The trend in recent years in the NFL seems to have carries split among two or more running backs. Apparently the thinking is that it serves as both a change of pace between the backs, as well as reducing the wear and tear on this critical position.
To this end, the Patriots have assembled a stable of running backs, in hopes that they can have consistent production in this area of the game and keep defenses honest so that they’re not pinning their ears back and aiming for Tom Brady’s knee on every play.
What I Like
Depth – between Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, and Kevin Faulk you’ve got a pretty nice collection of talent. You’ve also got the immortal BenJarvus Green-Ellis who scored five touchdowns last season and had a 105 yard effort against the Bills in his rookie year. He might not even make the team.
Versatility – Morris will pound it, Taylor will grind it, Maroney will bounce it and Faulk will catch it. That just about covers everything, I think.
Experience – There’s a lot of it here. Morris, Taylor and Faulk have just about seen it all in the NFL.
What I don’t Like
Who’s the Big Dog? – Is someone in this group going to establish themselves as the go-to guy when the team needs to run out the clock in the fourth quarter with the lead? Who will emerge in that role?
Health – None of these guys are exactly Cal Ripken Jr in terms of staying on the field. That’s why depth is good, but it can also quickly be depleted.
Breakaway – With the possible exception of Maroney, none of the backs have the ability to really break a long one. Maroney’s health and mental state are a huge question mark heading into the season.
It’s funny how this group seems like it could be a huge factor in their success this season… and, a nice way to limit some Brady dropbacks on a surgically repaired knee…. and yet, at the same time it seems like there is vulnerablity- in that even if healthy, you wonder how Morris, Maroney and Taylor will respond sharing carries. (not worried about Faulk… his role is as DEFINED as one can get)
RB’s talk often about getting a ‘rhythm’ and this arrangment apears to not provide that opportunity unless someone breaks out and becomes that clear ‘big dog’. Not a huge concern, but something to think about as it relates to RB’s.
I think they’ll run Taylor to start and spell him with Maroney as a change-of-pace type back (with Faulk keeping third-down duties). Morris looks like the odd man out, but as a top-rated backup.