The New England Patriots have not had a great running game this season. For the past few weeks, they did start pulling it together by giving Fred Taylor more carries against the Jets, Falcons and Ravens. Taylor was averaging 4.5 YPC with 2 touchdowns while his counterpart, Laurence Maroney is averaging 2.9 YPC with no TD's. Mike Reiss of ESPN reported yesterday that Fred Taylor injured his ankle on the last carry of the game against the Baltimore Ravens last week and Taylor is going to undergo surgery on his injured ankle and barring complications, will not be out for the entire season. There is no timetable for Fred Taylor to return yet, but this means that Laurence Maroney is now going to carry the load for the Patriots in the running game with short yardage help from Sammy Morris and receiving help from Kevin Faulk.
I was one of the hopeful few that suggested trading Laurence Maroney for a third or fourth round pick this season and making Fred Taylor out starting tailback along with Morris and Faulk for their respective talents. With Taylor being out, I obviously don't think that trading Maroney for a draft pick is going to be helpful for the Patriots this season. I do still hate the fact that Laurence Maroney is afraid to hit the hole and doesn't show that he has the ability to be a star running back in the NFL for the first round draft pick New England spent on him. I will definitely support Maroney as our sole starting back at this point, but I also did some hunting in the free agent market to see who else was available as a better option.
The Free Agent Market
Walterfootball provided a list of the 2009 NFL free agent market for running backs and I decided to pull a few that would fit well in New England:
Warrick Dunn - Fits the Patriots mold. An older player with great knowledge of the game that can produce well with enough support from our other backs.
DeShaun Foster - Similar to the east/west running of Laurence Maroney, only Foster isn't afraid to hit the hole once he finds it. He even has the ability to make a hole if it isn't there.
Ahman Green - Obviously over the hill, but similar to Corey Dillon when we needed that plodder back in 2004.
There are a few other backs on the Walterfootball list, but those would be the top three fits for New England if Laurence Maroney can't manage to handle the load and get the job done. With a big game against former coordinator Josh McDaniels and the undefeated Denver Broncos this weekend, Belichick better figure out something for the running game, even if that means more short passing and screens to open things up. Let's see if the Patriots splash the market before Sunday. Let us know what free agent running back the Patriots should begin speaking with, if any, in the comments section below.
Thanks to FLC for the picture of Laurence Maroney.