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tiggerpolice 08-08-2005 09:02 AM

Saints look for consistency from Aaron Brooks
 
Saints look for consistency from Aaron Brooks
New Orleans stands by its quarterback despite his mental lapses.
Gannett News Service


JACKSON, Miss. -- New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett rarely goes through an entire media interview session without getting asked about starting quarterback Aaron Brooks.

Saturday night after the Black and Gold Scrimmage was no exception.

"If he can be more consistent, I think he's going to have a good year,'' Haslett said. "He just has to get away from making those dumb plays here and there.''

That's a big "if'' where Brooks is concerned. Entering his seventh NFL season, sixth in New Orleans, Brooks remains one of the league's biggest enigmas.

He can look brilliant one play, clueless the next. In a word, he's inconsistent.

Brooks' numbers often don't look so bad. In fact, he has 30 games in which he's thrown for 250 or more passing yards. And he's moving up on Archie Manning in most passing categories in the team's record book.

But, a lot of times, when the Saints need Brooks to make a play, he doesn't deliver.

Throw in an occasional fumble -- Brooks has fumbled 55 times, losing 19 -- and an interception here or there -- Brooks has been picked off 67 times -- and it's enough to leave many Saints fans scratching their collective heads while exiting the Louisiana Superdome.

How can a guy with so much athletic ability -- at 6-foot-4 Brooks runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, vertical-jumped 40 inches while in college at Virginia, and has a whip of an arm -- look so bad at times?

That erratic nature has some inside and outside the organization questioning whether Brooks is indeed the quarterback to take the Saints to the Promised Land. That question drew even more merit when Brooks' former backup in New Orleans, Jake Delhomme, directed the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl two years ago.

Still, Saints brass stands by their man, even though the team has finished above .500 only once since Brooks' rookie season with no return trips to the playoffs. They realize Brooks has thrown for more than 16,000 yards and 107 touchdowns and rushed for 1,129 more in four-plus years as a starter. They realize he's the quarterback who led the Saints to their first and only playoff victory in their 39-year existence as a rookie.

"Our feelings haven't changed about Aaron Brooks,'' Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. "We've been excited about him since the day he arrived in the trade from Green Bay. Can he get better? Absolutely. But we all can.''

The quarterback usually gets more credit than he deserves, and on the flip side also gets more blame than he deserves. Brooks is no different. He's been booed on numerous occasions by Saints fans.

In an effort to take some of the pressure off Brooks this season, and to help him realize his scary potential, the Saints have decided to simplify the offense. The plan is to rely more on the running game, more specifically Deuce McAllister, and utilize more play-action.

Brooks agrees. He likes the new approach, all the way down to the wristband he's wearing which bears the plays.

"It's very convenient,'' Brooks said. "It's going to help us play faster.''

The New Orleans Saints didn't quite make the $200,000 in ticket sales they needed to cover expenses for the annual Black and Gold Scrimmage Saturday night.

"But we had a good crowd and it was close enough,'' said Arnold Fielkow, the Saints executive vice-president.

Mississippians Deuce McAllister and Fred McAfee had agreed to underwrite the scrimmage, but Fielkow said the Saints were satisfied with outcome and would cover whatever expenses weren't covered by ticket revenue.


http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/...30/1001/SPORTS


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