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tiggerpolice 05-20-2005 08:08 AM

PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
Saints coaches say Aaron Brooks prepared better this offseason than ever before, determined to improve
Friday, May 20, 2005
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer
For Aaron Brooks, especially, it seems the momentum of the Saints' final four games of last season has carried over into the NFL's dog days of spring.

Coaches have noticed Brooks inspired and engergetic this offseason, citing his health, maturity and even his two-year marriage.

"He's had a tremendous offseason, I think the best one since I've been here," said Mike Sheppard, who is in his first season as offensive coordinator after three years as the Saints' quarterbacks coach. "It's his whole approach. Aaron Brooks took the approach this year that he was going to get better in the offseason. Physically, mentally, personally, the whole thing, his whole demeanor about things.

"He's bigger. He feels better. He's throwing the ball better. He's prepared better than ever before."

Sheppard and Coach Jim Haslett specifically noted Brooks' training with strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson. Haslett said Brooks is stronger than he has been since before he injured his shoulder late in the 2002 season.

"Aaron's really done a good job of maturing and being a leader," said Haslett. He said Brooks, 29, has not been vocal about making changes. "No, he's not that type of guy. He doesn't say it; he just shows by example. But I think he's just different."

Brooks, who met with the media Thursday for the first time since the Saints' season-ending victory over Carolina on Jan. 2, said he hasn't changed his approach this offseason. He said the team has just worked well together, and participation has been high in offseason workouts.

"I'm always feeling good, man. My workout regime will never waver," Brooks said. "I think coaches are probably recognizing that fact a little more because everyone is doing well. And when everyone does well, the quarterback gets more publicity.

"I do think I've been doing a fantastic job in the weight room. But again, I can't take all the credit. I think Rock, with his workout schedule, has really made a difference in all of us."

Brooks' production dipped last season, following his career-best performance in 2003. He completed 57 percent of his passes for 3,810 yards, 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

But heading into his fifth full season as the Saints' starting quarterback, Brooks said his comfort level improves every year, especially now with so much continuity on offense.

Only receiver Jerome Pathon and tackle Victor Riley are gone from last season's contributors. The team has added two hefty quarterback protectors on the right side of the offensive line in first-round draft choice Jammal Brown and free agent Jermane Mayberry.

Former offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy is gone, now serving the same role in San Francisco, but Brooks said he was very pleased that Sheppard became his replacement.

"I think there couldn't have been a better guy given the job than Shepp," said Brooks, who also said he likes new quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert. "I'm very happy with the transition that's been made."

It doesn't hurt that the Saints have spent the offseason stripping down their playbook and terminology -- a quarterback-friendly change that the team started during its four-game winning streak at the end of last season.

"It's a great situation that they worked their butt off to reduce as much vocabulary as possible, and it's really worked well for all of us," Brooks said.

Sheppard said the coaches went through the entire playbook and abbreviated the names of every play and formation -- no small task. For example, Sheppard said, a formation that was once called "stronger right slot" is now "deuce right."

Sheppard also is experimenting with plays printed on the quarterbacks' wristbands, an expanding trend in the league. Both changes should help the team get out of the huddle faster.

In the past, Brooks and McCarthy were sometimes fighting against the clock to relay the play call through Brooks' earpiece, which shuts off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock.

"Everybody likes it," Haslett said of the abbreviated terminology. "It puts a little more learning on the players, if you're going to say one word and they have to learn what it means, instead of spelling out everyone's duties. It puts a little more on the players and takes a little bit off of the quarterback and the play-calling."

. . . . . . .

WhoDat 05-20-2005 08:40 AM

RE: PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
This new terminology requires our players to be smarter? Oh brother. ;)

ScottyRo 05-20-2005 09:32 AM

RE: PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
I want to believe this, but really...don't we hear this same line every year. Maybe not just about AB, but about this player or that player or the team as a whole. They're doing so much better this year? It's no wonder so many people, myself included, get over hyped and then let down so hard.

papz 05-20-2005 10:14 AM

RE: PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
It's still always good to hear something positive though.

WhoDat 05-20-2005 01:39 PM

RE: PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
You're exactly right Scotty. Every year we hear about how much better these players look - how the coaches are really impressed with so-and-so's progress, how X will be an integral part of the team's success this year... blah blah blah.

My mantra for this team until it shows me a winner is going to be "Prove it!"

o1higuy 05-20-2005 01:45 PM

RE: PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
What would Brooks do with Gruden's terminology?

Tobias-Reiper 05-20-2005 01:52 PM

RE: PROCEEDING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
on a related note, Brooks has been issued an Etch-a-Sketch to sandlot diagram plays in the huddle... they would've given him a stick, but Saints officials say that it is very hard to draw plays in the Dome's turf...

saintswhodi 05-20-2005 03:46 PM

Quote:

on a related note, Brooks has been issued an Etch-a-Sketch to sandlot diagram plays in the huddle... they would've given him a stick, but Saints officials say that it is very hard to draw plays in the Dome's turf...
ROFLMFAO!!!!

spkb25 05-20-2005 04:11 PM

the team was working great together last year also. then came that seatlle game. i will wait to see. they are selling their owners product. im sure ill get caught up in it again. but right now i get excited when i hear theese things then i think how it sounds very familiar

Tobias-Reiper 05-20-2005 04:46 PM

..in all seriousness, I do have a question/concern about this "simplified' playbook..

..in the article, they cite an example of a play:
Quote:

Sheppard said the coaches went through the entire playbook and abbreviated the names of every play and formation -- no small task. For example, Sheppard said, a formation that was once called "stronger right slot" is now "deuce right."
ok... you know the other teams are listening to your plays, right?

... "stronger right slot" doesn't tell the other team much.. "slot" could be a slot on the line, or the slot receiver going over the SLB, etc... so the defense would have to react...

"Deuce right" tells me Deuce is getting the ball and going to the right... then the defense can act...

..so unless all of the sudden the Saints turn into the '69 Packers when every one knew they were going to run a sweep but no one could stop it, this "simplified terminology" is also going to benefit opposing teams' defenses...


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