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Tim Graham, who covers the AFC East for ESPN.com, recruits Football Outsiders managing editor Bill Barnwell to dissect goal-line and short-yardage (1-to-2 yards) data for every AFC East running back.
The results, from this view, are surprising as Patriots running back Laurence Maroney tops the charts.
Graham breaks down the data:
"Maroney scored eight goal-line touchdowns, 1.65 more than the decade average would suggest. That was the division's best differential. Maroney also converted three more first downs than the average in short-yardage situations, third-best in the AFC East."
Maroney's standing on the Patriots has been the topic of much debate. Entering his fifth NFL season in 2010, Maroney has not reached the lofty expectations that followed him to New England as a first-round draft choice. Yet he has shown flashes of excellence at various points.
Most would agree that Maroney's 2009 season was up and down. When the Patriots had a run of injuries at running back, he stepped up and delivered with some of his most consistent running as a pro. Yet on the flip side, he had a string of fumbles that seemed to test the patience of coach Bill Belichick.
These statistics highlight some of the positives that Maroney brings to the Patriots.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Maroney bashers.
Paul, London - Patriot and Proud
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To call those of us who see Maroney for he is (a mediocre, second- or third- tier NFL running back on his BEST day) "Maroney Bashers" suggests we want the kid to perform poorly.
No, it suggests you ignore the evidence and production, and fo rsome reason known only to yourselves, continue to insist that 3.2 ypc Morris gets more yards per carry than 3.9 ypc Maroney, Plus Moroney is being used as the short-yardage back (you can't gain 3 yards on 3rd and 1) and Morris is used on draw plays where the average carry is much higher.
I don't understand it, it defies logic, but there it is.
Keep Morris, keep BJGE, cut Maroney. None so blind as those who will not see.
“When we look at the board, based on everything we want in a football player at that particular time, we evaluate them and take the player that fits best for our football team. That’s what we always do, and I think the last nine years we’ve put a pretty competitive team out there on the field every year. I think that’s how you do it – you get good football players. Sometimes they are not always at the No. 1 position, but I don’t think you pass up good football players to get the guys who aren’t as good just because they’re at a position that somebody feels you need.”
BB on his draft philosophy, April 2010