The reported signing of first-round pick Laurence Maroney to a five-year deal could be the most important development of this pre-season. By locking up a young impact running back, the Patriots may be laying the groundwork for a new Super Bowl strategy.
While we are all lamenting the holes in the wide receiver corps (even assuming Deion Branch ends his hold-out), the new formula for success may be more of a running-back, tight-end-oriented offense. With arguably the best cadre of tight ends in the NFL, one can forsee a lot more of Tom Brady faking to the new signee and hitting the big powerful trio of Ben Watson, Daniel Graham and rookie David Thomas (an average of 253 pounds worth).
In the meantime, a receiver group of Branch, Troy Brown, and rookie Chad Jackson might be enough of a threat to keep opposing secondaries honest. And, if the rumored return of David Patten from the Redskins is true, another veteran who understands the system would make for almost unlimited offensive options.
Remember how much more effective the offense was when Corey Dillon could be counted on to rumble through defensive lines? It could be that way again with Maroney in the fold. Once again, the Pats will be under-estimated by all the experts. That suits me just fine.