Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Where's the Pony?

During the Patriots' methodical victory over San Francisco on Sunday, we saw plenty of things from the comfort of our homes, an entire country away.

We saw the incomparable Kevin Faulk catch screen after screen and turn them into first down after first down, while adding two big touchdowns to his effort.

We saw LaMont Jordan resume his weekly ritual of stomping over defenders before leaving with an apparent leg injury.

We saw Sammy Morris come up big with several first down runs en route to 63 yards on 16 attempts.

What didn't we see? Laurence Maroney.

Oh sure, Maroney the Pony (a nickname I can't take credit for, sadly. My dad came up with it in 2006) was there. He ran the ball 10 times, for a hardly robust 26 yards. He was just a non-factor, whose dances behind the line of scrimmage went nowhere, and whose frequent stops at the line of scrimmage threatened to single-handedly derail Patriot drives.

Maroney was there. He just didn't show up.

Even Maroney's best carry, a five-yard rush, was perplexing. The third-year player ran left, neared the first-down marker, and inexplicably continued out of bounds, rather than turning upfield for the crucial additional yard that would have awarded a new set of downs.

Is this the type of production we should expect from a first-round draft pick? Considering the success Maroney has had in the past, the answer is a resounding "no". This is, after all, the same guy who struggled through nagging injuries for most of last year also, though it went largely unnoticed with the Patriots experiencing unprecedented success through the air.

In the playoffs, though, the Pony, out of nowhere, showed up. He ran for 100 yards in both the divisional and conference championship rounds, and scored one of the team's two Super Bowl touchdowns.

Which brings us to this year, his supposed break out year. But we haven't seen it. The Patriots' coaching staff hasn't seen it. And unless he figures out how to get back on track, we won't be seeing the Pony too much in the future.

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