Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Dec 2005

Saints Bench Aaron Brooks

Some people might want to create a conspiracy theory, that Brooks is being benched because of negative comments he made about the owner in an interview. Those people clearly didn't watch Brooks play against Atlanta. This is the end of his career in New Orleans, and likely the end of his career as a starter. He would make a good backup, perhaps for his cousin. (That would allow the Falcons to trade Schaub for a nice draft pick or two.) Brooks finishes the year with 281 yards rushing forward and 1,547 yards rushing backward. Well, that's an estimate, I admit. Meanwhile, the fans want Adrian McPherson, but they're getting Todd Bouman.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 15 Dec 2005

50 comments, Last at 31 Dec 2005, 1:00pm by Thorne


by fish shure (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:13am

I have never been an Aaron Brooks fan. He is way too inconsistent, in my opinion. I have to say though, having watched some of that game against the Falcons, that he is pretty much all the Saints have right now. His receivers were dropping passes and the defense certainly isn't doing anything. I'm not sure it matters too much who's under center at this point.

by Gatts (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:36am


I would agree if we were talking about normal people here. But Aaron wasn't even benched when he needed shoulder surgery. Haslett has stuck with him since 2000, I see no reason why this is different.

Meanwhile, Bouman's playing because Saints fans hate him. people might actually show up to see A-Mac.

Aaron, Benson's lied to Saints fans for as long as I can remember. I see no reason to start believing him now.

by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:38am

two years too late.

by andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:42am

I used to think Todd Bauman had a lot of potential, but he's been buried on the Saints bench for quite some time now. He was fantastic in a couple appearances for the Vikings his last year with them before he went to the Saints, hoping to find playing time because he wasn't getting any behind Culpepper.

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:51am

The third and one pass in the first half to DeAngelo Hall (at least, it looked like it was to Hall - hit him in stride) that went for a touchdown that was, because of a roughing the passer penalty, brought back had to be one of the dumbest plays I've seen this year.

It's third and one, Brooks gets flushed from the pocket to his right and runs towards the line of scrimmage. He has three to four yards in front of him, enough to safely get the one yard needed for a shift down. But no, he's running laterally, along the line of scrimmage. He's looking for a receiver. Looking ... looking ... why doesn't he just run forward 4 or 5 feet and get the first down.

He throws the pass, Hall steps in front of the receiver and returns it for a TD. The only thing which saved Brooks was an idiotic play by a Falcon lniebacker forcing the roughing penalty. Regardless, it was an insanely baffling play (to me).

by Gatts (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:51am

Apparently Haslett tried to resign but Benson "wouldn't let him." He plans to quit at the end of the season, according to rotoworld.

by Vince (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:05am

As a Falcon fan, the thought of Aaron Brooks as Vick's backup scares the hell out of me.

by charles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:19am

It's a shame that mike shanahan isn't looking for a quarterback to salvage because brooks we be perfect in a ball control, run heavy offense like jake plummer is in right now.

Brooks DPAR, 2005=19.4, 2004=23.2, 2003=57.1, 2002=35.5.

Plummer DPAR, 2005=67.4, 2004=56.4, 2003=49.6, 2002= -19.7

Note that Plummer joined the Broncos with Portis as his running back and still Brooks had a better DPAR in 03. I say that to say this, first the decline of deuce mccalister is bringing down brooks play, because he is a quarterback that needs minimum throws a la a roethlisberger or a plummer.
Mccalister's DPAR 2005=5.0, 2004=8.9, 2003=19.2, 2002=23.5.
Second Aaron is right, Brooks would be great as Vick's backup because the falcons have a dominant running game and would not have to lean on 35-40 Brooks passes to win the game. Brooks 2005 DPAR is better than mike vick's right now. The only other team i can think of with dominant defense and running game and crappy qbing is chicago, but you can't replace orton's swagger with aaron brooks.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:21am

Aaron wrote about it in the power rankings at FOX, but it bears mentioning again. The play on Monday where Brooks could have walked backwards for a first down, because he was so alone, and instead he tossed the ball into a Falcons' defender's chest, who returned it for a touchdown (it was subsequently called back), might have been the single worst play I've seen all year. Unbelievably, indescribably, terrible. Red lining the ol' crap-o-meter. Really bad. I think I'd start Tommy Maddox after seeing that.

Bouman's got a strong arm, and perhaps not a whole lot more.

by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:39am


But was it Krenzelian?

by Vash (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:44am

Oh bloody hell.

First I lose a running back for the season and drop from 28th to 76th in Loser Leage in one week as the two others rebound insanely.
Now I lose a QB too? This is painful.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 4:40am

I would love to see a video of that play if someone could rustle it up. It was not in the NFL recap video. :(

by adwred (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 10:25am

This shouldn't be unexpected but it kinda is for this Saints fan; they've put Brooks out there on the field for five years based on his potential.
I've always had a soft spot for Brooks since I saw him in the Praline Connection eating lunch with some guy pitching business investments to him, while Brooks morosely looked out the window, presumably thinking of better days for the Saints.
Anyway its Haslett's fault for running the same damn downfield offense year after year without the personnel.

by Al (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 10:49am

What does the team get by starting Bouman? He's 33 and has been stuck on the bench for his entire career. If they thought he could be a starter, why not give him a chance befor now? Throw McPherson out there for a couple of games to see what he can do and so you have a better idea of what to do this off-season.

Unless, of course, this is some sort of plan to drop as far down as possible so they can possibly get the #2 pick in the draft and grab Vince Young. Then starting Bouman makes sense.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 11:40am

Yes, but how does the NAACP feel about this decision?

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 11:40am

The thing I will remember most about Brooks is a story one of my friends told me when he met him at an sports collectors show. My friend's wife worked for Mounted Memories and she was able to get him some good autos at discount prices, if you catch my drift. Supposedly my friend was talking to Brooks and Brooks told him that during the offseason he likes to hunt and drink. My friend told him not to drink too much because he had Brooks on his FF team. I guess Brooks didn't heed his advice...

I don't know if the story is true or not, but I always thought about it when I thought of Aaron Brooks.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:09pm

Re #11: same here, down a QB. I hope Carr doesn't get hurt ... it's too bad, we were doing so poorly so far ... at least I didn't pick Brooks and Collins.

by B-spectacled (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:11pm

This is just too coincidental with the interview he gave to Jim Gray before the MNF game.

If any of you heard the interview, do you think Brooks was bashing the team and/or ownership? To me, it sounded like he was just telling it as it is (although I did sense a minimal aire of superiority complex).

BTW, down with Jim Gray! The "Pete Rose" episode....

by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:50pm

Yes, we can't have a sideline reporter actually asking provocative questions. Let's get rid of Jim Gray and replace him with one of the legions of sideline reporters with one question, and one question only, in their repertoires: "Coach, what do you guys need to do in the second half?"

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 12:57pm

Self-reference: scratch that. I see Collins will be starting this week after all.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:08pm

I think people are missing the big story here. (I've been waiting for Brooks to lose the starting job since about Week 5.) Jim Haslett wanted to resign and Benson wouldn't let him? And other teams are interested in him as a head coaching candidate?!?

Let's remember this is the same guy whose teams have come apart and played undisciplined for how many seasons? Who most observers were surprised he kept his job after the last 2 years? And, if this report is right, with his team in a very tough situation and playing out the string, tried to bail on them? (I actually do understand why Benson wouldn't let him go now.) I wouldn't hire this guy to coach a Pop Warner team!

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:12pm

I think Brooks has a chance to be a starter on another team. While his play in the second half against the Falcons was iffy he threw a laser beam of a pass in the first half. If Kerry Collins and Drew Bledsoe can constantly find starting gigs in the NFL there's no reason to doubt at his age and ability that Brooks will get a look.

by B-spectacled (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:37pm

MDS - note that I specifically talked about the Pete Rose "interview" during the All Star game back in wheneveritwas. On the field right after the announcement of the all-century team and Gray is badgering Rose about betting on baseball -- ON THE FIELD, DURING THE ALL-CENTURY TEAM PRESENTATION. Man, let Pete have *some* time in public w/o asking about that.

The other i-views Gray has done have definitely shown higher levels of tact, and the Brooks interview was very well done.

I'm not even a Falcons troll and I get bashed because someone isn't reading closely -- and a FO mainstay at that!

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 1:48pm

21: I understand the Texans want him as thier head coach, helping guarantee they can get the top pick in the 2007 draft, too.

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 2:53pm

If Rose didn't want to be asked the question he shouldn't have shown up and disgraced the ceremony the way he did. He didn't belong on the all century team let alone deserve the loudest ovation of any player on the field. I'm glad someone was there to remind the "fans" why Rose is banned from baseball.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 2:55pm

I think Brooks could be a great bargain for somebody. Although he's made some all-time blooper reel plays this is still a guy who's 6'4" with mobility and five years experience as a starter.

I don't follow the Saints closely but my impression is that he has not been well coached as a pro at all. Match him up with a coach who will demand more disciplined play and he could be one of these QBs who blossoms in their 30s.

Dallas, anyone?

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:15pm

In fairness to Rose, the fans voted him on the team and wanted to see him there, so it's hard to blame him for showing up. In fairness to Gray, asking Rose about it once wouldn't have been out of line, and at that time he was still maintaing his innocence (which we now know was a big fat lie).

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:16pm

If my team hired Jim Haslett as its coach, I'd find a new team. I would lose all faith in the organization and could not support that team.

I'm just not as loyal as MDS.

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:25pm

I sometimes wonder about this (below) strategy and wonder why coaches don't use it with young quarterbacks. I think I would work with Brooks.

I would seem like, in almost every playbook, there would be a subset of plays that Brooks's skillset, unique as it is, would make him the most capable player in running. Of course, the main problem with Brooks's skillset exists between his ears, but if you gave him 8-10 pass plays in the book, had him only practice those and get him executing those with a high proficiency, it would seem like you could minimize the problems he could present.

And, as I said before, I think this strategy would also work for rookies, either for the same reasons or just as a means to bring them along slowly.

Each week the coaching staff could make an assessment as to whether those plays were viable against the opponent. Along with running plays and the limited exposure you'd be giving the opposing defensive coordinators in previous games' films, you would have enough of a playbook to keep teams from knowing which play your sub-QB is going to run.

by jimmo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:30pm

ha B #15, I was thinking along those same lines; Brooks didn't run for the first down on that play because that's what we'd expect a black QB to do!

by Sara (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:32pm

#7 - as a Carolina fan, I'm *totally* behind the idea. ;)

by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 3:44pm

A couple years ago I heard an interesting story about the 98 Viking team that went 15-1. Sorry if this is old news to anybody here.

Brian Billick, who was the OC at the time, didn't trust Randall Cunningham to read defenses. So the Vikings worked on cutting down their play calling language and getting in and out of the huddle as fast as possible.

Why? Because if the Vikes came to the line with 15 seconds on the play clock Billick was able to survey the defense from the booth and give a final instruction to Cunningham via his headset before the communication was shut off (which I believe happens with 10 seconds on the play clock). Billick's instruction would usually be as simple as "left" or "right", and Cunningham would know not to even bother looking to the other side of the field. The Vikes rode this method to getting within one kick of going to the Super Bowl.

I guess I bring this up for two reasons. 1, I just think it's an interesting story about the game within the game. 2, it illustrates that there are ways to overcome a QBs limitations if they struggle with the playbook or with their reads.

Give Brooks a stripped down playbook and a little extra help from upstairs and who knows what he might be capable of?

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 4:45pm

RE #32:

If that story is true, then Kyle Boller must be the worst QB in the history of mankind.

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 4:57pm

re: #33

If that story isn't true, Kyle Boller might still be the worst quaterback in the history of mankind.

by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 5:04pm

Re #33 - but he's got good arm strength.

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 5:36pm

RE #35:

So did Clubber Lang

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 6:12pm

re: #36

So did Sylvester Stallone's character in Over the Top.

Was the kid in that the same kid who was in Flight of the Navigator? I guess I could go look.

by Gatts (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 8:35pm

Brooks came to the league as a running QB, but Haslett et all pretty much beat it out of him. I think Haslett gets pissy when he runs now. He was taking off earlier in the year..

by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 8:59pm

Aaron mentions that Brooks might be a good backup for Vick, but his own stats seem to indicate that the opposite may be true:

Brooks total DPAR: 32.4
Vick total DPAR: 27.7

The same is true for DVOA (Brooks ranked 23rd passing & 1st rushing; Vick ranked 25th passing & 3rd rushing).

Disclaimer: I do not actually believe that Brooks is a better QB than Vick. Just pointing out an oddity.

by David (not verified) :: Thu, 12/15/2005 - 11:58pm

29- Are you basically advocating the Texas Tech philosophy of having only a few actual plays, but lining up in a variety of formations? I'm not sure that would work in the NFL, where teams and individual players have far more time to devote to preparation than the average college team, let alone divisional opponents would get a chance to play that rookie twice in the season. I think the bigger problem with QB development in the NFL is that coaches REFUSE to ease their young players into the mix. Guy won't play unless he's The Starter, which makes no sense to me. Don't let a guy start for the first half of the year (to pick an arbitrary amount of acclimation time). Then, give the guy one series per game for the next few games. If he does well, and the team is crappy enough that the season is a lost cause by the final quarter, give him more time. There's an educational principle called scaffolding, which basically holds that you don't simply throw students into the water and expect them to swim. Rather, you should create a controlled learning process with reasonably attainable goals at each step instead of expecting total success right away. You might instead go through and demonstrate whatever skills you want them to learn (film, classroom study), then have them work on those skills with your (the coach's/teacher's) close guidance (practice), then have them work on those skills with peer help (more practice), and only after they have mastered that final stage throw them into the water (game action).

by Raul Amargosa (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 5:53am

I like that idea. For all the thought that goes into running an NFL team, do coaches just not think of it? Think of it then write it off immediately?

by weezee (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 7:01am

It's about time Haslett saw the light and benched this sorry excuse for a qb.

by Sam B (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 7:42am

#40: Meet Romeo Crennel. That's pretty much what's been done with Frye: he had a few series in a couple of games after the halfway mark (although with slightly odd timing of when Frye was put in), then because of Dilfer's injury he was chucked in as the starter, did the job, and will remain so (barring injury) for the season.

Crennel is definately a very slow introducer of rookies - Edwards was brought along slowly - from 3rd WR, to 2.5th WR, to 2nd WR - even though he had the playmaking abilities from the get go (see TD at Green Bay). Similarly, at NT, everyone could see that Fisk was rubbish and our run defence was lots better when Ethan Kelly was in, but initially Kelly was just given a few series, then he alternated series (by mid-season) then he pretty much started, then he got injured (and Cleveland got gashed by Rudi).

Sorry to bore you with the Cleveland NT battle, but it does illustrate the point. Apparently Crennel is very Parcells-like in his treatment of rookies.

PS - does anyone else find Parcells weirdly attractive?

by mactbone0 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 11:19am

Yeah, playing a rookie for a few plays every week works really well. Just ask Cade McNown.

As a fan, the worst thing in the world is to watch a bad QB leave the game for a series or two to watch a bad rookie. You can't tell whether the rookie is actually that bad and you get frustrated watching the bad starter flounder his way through games.

I'm glad it's working for the Browns though. I respected them until they went with orange helmets, hired Butch Davis and drafted a bunch of scrubs.

by DGL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 12:17pm

mactbone0: You mean you respected the Brownies until 1950?

by mactbone0 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 12:25pm

Hmmm, must come from growing up and playing football games on the older consoles. I thought for sure their helmets were actually brown until they became Cleveland 2.0

For some reason they look a lot more neon orange now than they did before. Maybe it's just perception? I can't handle the franchise which had Bernie Kosar looking this bad?

by Richard (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 12:27pm

re: #40

No, that's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying you have a playbook for however many plays you have - let's just say 80. You have a quarterback roster that either a.) has two very differnt style quarterbacks (let's say Pennington and Brooks) or b.) has one or more quarterback which need development.

In both these scenarios, you have a main quarterback. They take most of the snaps. However, there's a subsection of the playboook whether the other quarterback's skillset makes them a more viable option. You assign those plays to that QB to practice, develop him skills in running and playing out the potential scenarios which could be thrown at it by an opposing defense, and you use that quarterback in the game when running those plays.

The caveats I see to this approach I addressed in #29.

But you do not limit your playbook. In fact, in a way, your extending the utility of your playbook.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 12:32pm

39: I think what those numbers prove is that Joe Horn and Dante Stallworth are better receivers than the scrubs Atlanta has.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/16/2005 - 3:07pm


The Patriots tried this with Michael Bishop in 1998/1999 (or was it 1999/2000?). Granted, they weren't a very good team then, but it had very limited success.

by Thorne (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 1:00pm

As a lifelong Saints fan, this year has been a painful one. The decision to bench Brooks made him the fall guy based upon the comments from fans who never accepted him. Back in the days of Buddy D, who sought to identify the problems with the organization, the base never accepted the obvious. The talent base is in place for the team to be tops in the NFC South. Unfortunately, Brooks will be in Detroit or Chicago next year & put up Pro Bowl numbers