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Sports

November 7, 2006

Pats must simplify, ride the Big 3

Halfway through the 2006 season, it is apparent the New England Patriots possess three playmakers on offense: Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney and Ben Watson.

One layman's advice to Bill Belichick for the second half of the season - Ride 'em hard.

Scrap your multiple looks, your five-wides and most importantly, dump the platoon at halfback. Copy the Kansas City Chiefs playbook - which revolves around the quarterback, halfback Larry Johnson and tight end Tony Gonzalez - and ride your horses.

Unless somebody transforms miraculously - Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, Doug Gabriel and Co. have had enough time to get acquainted with the system, they're simply mediocre at best - or rookie Chad Jackson somehow learns the pro game, you are left with Maroney, Watson and Brady.

As linebacker Mike Vrabel stated, the secret to success on a grandiose NFL scale is, "Great players making huge plays in big games, and that's all it is."

Maroney would seem to be the key to the entire equation.

He's gotten the offense in position with his explosive work on kick returns, which currently leads the AFC.

The time has come to drop the rock in his hands 30 times a game, a la KC's Johnson.

Now before all you Belichickians start cooking up the e-mails, forcing all his "team" doctrine down our throats, remember that Belichick brought Corey Dillon in for the 2004 season and put the offense on his shoulders.

Dillon ran 23 times a game in '04, rolling up a team record 1,635 yards on the way to the club's third Super Bowl.

There was no talk of platooning then, and there shouldn't be now.

Maroney, through eight pro games, has absolutely outplayed an aging and slow Corey Dillon.

Running relatively the same plays behind the same offensive line, Maroney averages nearly a half-yard per rush more than Dillon. The rookie also has five runs of 20-plus yards, compared to one for his backfield mate.

It should also be noted that Kevin Faulk is taking touches away from the fabulous freshman from Minnesota as well, something that should end down the stretch, unless it's a third-and-long passing situation.

Speaking of Faulk, he spoke of how "consistency" was the one factor missing offensively in the loss Sunday night. He might as well of been talking about rhythm, or a lack thereof.

John Madden mentioned it on the telecast and we're seeing it first-hand.

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