Boo-Birds Show Their Dissatisfaction

Sammy Morris had a banner day Sunday. Fred Taylor was his usual productive self, and Kevin Faulk was Mr. Reliable once again. So why were the fans booing? 6 yards on 7 carries, that's why. Patriots running back Laurence Maroney struggled to gain positive yards on all but one of his runs and the fans voiced their displeasure.

The frustration Patriots fans have been feeling toward running back Laurence Maroney, the team’s 2006 first round draft pick, reached its zenith Sunday.

When Maroney attempted an early fourth quarter run off left tackle but was dropped for yet another one yard loss, a deluge of thunderous boos rained down upon him. Whether it’s his continuous tap dance routine at the line-of-scrimmage each time he took a handoff or his sideline-to-sideline running style, Maroney continues to fail on the football field and he continues to fall far short of the high expectations of being a first round pick.

Now maybe it’s time to refer to Maroney as a first-round bust, because he just seems to be getting worse and the patience fans had with him has just run out.

What’s more frustrating is that with Fred Taylor running for more than 100 yards the previous game against Atlanta, he started on the bench with Maroney getting the call to start the game. Maroney’s first carry of the game was indicative of his day. He tiptoed behind the right guard for only one yard. On seven attempts in the game, he ran for only six yards, averaging 0.9 yards per carry. It was ugly and the fans let him know it.

On the Patriots’ second series, Maroney had two carries for zero yards and it wasn’t until Kevin Faulk, Taylor, and Sammy Morris got into the game when the Patriots ground attack began to get rolling. With the ball on the Ravens’ 22-yard-line, Faulk ran the ball straight up the gut for eight yards on his first carry. Taylor then pounded up the middle for two yards for the first down. After an incomplete pass, three more plays, two ran by Taylor and one by Morris to set up first and goal. Two runs from Tom Brady put the ball in the end zone.

The difference between Maroney and the other running backs is clear; the other three backs don’t dance around the line, they run straight up field and hit the holes. When there are no holes available, they continued to run forward, take the hit, and fight for the extra yard. Maroney seemed to run away from that kind of contact.

What’s even more frustrating with Maroney is that he has the talent to be great. During the 2007 playoffs, Maroney was huge rushing the ball, compiling 280 yards on the ground and three touchdowns in three playoff games. Unfortunately, that play seems to be more of an aberration. The following year he was out after three games with a shoulder injury and only 93 yards.

Perhaps he’s afraid of being injured. Maybe that explains the tentative running. Whatever the reason, it just looks bad when his teammates are willing to give up their bodies for the extra yard. Taylor also had only seven carries, but he ran for 25 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Faulk had only five carries for 22 yards and an average of 4.4 yards per carry and Morris finished with six carries for 21 yards, which included picking up a first down on a fourth and one play and he also had a 12 yard touchdown scamper.

Brady even got into the action with five rushes for 11 yards, an average of 2.2 yards per carry and a touchdown. On the touchdown, Brady took Ray Lewis head-on when he pushed the ball up the middle over the goal-line. Maroney must realize, when Tom Brady out runs you, it’s a bad game rushing the football.

Maybe it’s time to call Maroney the bust that he is. With the solid production the Patriots are getting from Taylor, Faulk, and Morris, it’s a wonder why the Patriots keep calling Maroney’s number. It’s just a wasted play giving him the ball. It’s bad enough they are wasting the roster spot.

Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former New England beat writer, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin here.
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