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saintz08 12-08-2003 05:13 PM

Sporting News
Jeff Duncan /
Posted: 17 hours ago

Brooks a mystery

For all of his big-play talent and ability, QB Aaron Brooks still makes too many head-scratching, critical mistakes. It has reached a point where the staff runs the risk of losing the confidence and commitment of the team if it continues to stick with him. Equally troubling, Brooks, a three-year starter, appears unable to recover from the miscues. True, mistakes are a part of the game. But when they are repeated over and over, the blame must fall on the club's decision makers for allowing them to happen.

Even though team officials have been disappointed by WR Donte' Stallworth's poor season, they're not ready to give up on him. Stallworth has a good attitude, and his teammates like him. And he has a huge upside. The Saints will be patient with him and hope he puts it together next season.

MLB Orlando Ruff is a solid tackler who has the size and strength to make plays between the tackles. He's smart and is good at line adjustments. He's not a great athlete or particularly agile so he struggles at time to make plays in space. He's not particularly strong in pass coverage, which is why the team substitutes LB Darrin Smith on passing downs.

Problem spot

The run defense has ranked near the bottom of the league all season and continues to cost the team in critical situations. Of the linebackers, only Ruff is considered a strong run defender, and Ss Tebucky Jones and Jay Bellamy tend to miss tackles. Opponents have had success running on the team's undersized nickel and dime personnel packages. The defense's inability to stop the run prevents the team from playing to its strength: turning loose DEs Charles Grant and Darren Howard to rush the passer

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