Not Missing Shockey

It’s a good day to be a Giants fan. There’s really nothing quite like it when your team is appropriately an underdog and they win anyway.

The Giants have come together at the best possible time, and whatever happens in Green Bay this Sunday, it’s been a very successful season and a very nice post-season run.

There was a number of Giants who did not get to partake in the fun in Dallas this past Sunday. One who was not missed in the slightest was tight end Jeremy Shockey.

The Giants have not missed a beat since Shockey went down with a broken leg in week 15. In fact, they’ve gotten better since his departure. That improvement is probably coincidence, but it is not coincidence that the team hasn’t missed its alleged star end.

Ever since Shockey was drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft, he has basked in enormous attention, form the media, but more importantly from opposing defenses and Giants offensive coordinators. And much of that attention has been misplaced.

Shockey has had some good years, and some good games in other years. In 2002 and 2005, Shockey was an impact player, albeit one who was considerably less than the star he seems to think he is. But Shockey has also hurt the team with his stupid penalties, dropped passes, blown plays and indifferent blocking.

Shockey is a big tight end who also has well above average speed for the position. He is very difficult for any but the very best linebackers to cover, causing matchup problems for the opposing defense. But his execution often leaves a lot to be desired.

Shockey drops a lot of passes, and when he does catch the ball, he has a hard time staying on his feet, usually due to his own clumsiness, not because he is hit by a defender. He shows flashes at times, where he catches a ball and carries a couple of defenders for extra yardage, but these plays are few and far between.

Shockey is an ongoing distraction with his antics both on and off the field. While so many Giants have rallied to support oft-beleaguered quarterback Eli Manning, Shockey routinely showed his frustration with Manning’s inaccuracy for the entire world to see on the field. One can live with prickly personalities from top-flight players, but Shockey is far from that.

Shockey’s size and strength have gotten him a reputation as a solid blocker, but close observation shows frequently poor blocking technique, laziness about getting downfield for his teammates and releasing his blocks too early when he does make them. He drops a lot of passes, but he whines openly when Manning shows reluctance to throw to him or the coordinator doesn’t call what he deems enough plays to his number.

Kevin Boss has already demonstrated better hands than Shockey and a better ability to run routes. Boss doesn’t have the ability to block as well as Shockey, but that’s not as important as one would think since Shockey’s physical ability to block far exceeds his actual performance as a blocker. Boss, of course, does not have Shockey’s speed, so he doesn’t present the matchup problems Shockey does. The Giants seem perfectly capable, however, of devising an effective attack without that aspect.

There are, to be sure, things that Shockey brings that are helpful. But when Shockey is credited as a leader because of his histrionics and screaming, I don’t buy it. Shockey is often hurt, even when he does play; he displays a lot of selfishness and often defies the team’s wishes when it comes to his rehab and training regimen. Considering how often he is either out or playing at a severely diminished capacity, that doesn’t show leadership. It shows stupidity, as do many of the yellow flags thrown at him.

The Giants have been a more cohesive unit since Shockey went down. As I said, that’s probably coincidence. But what is clear is that the Giants don’t miss Jeremy Shockey. Chances are the Giants won’t win the Super Bowl this year, and when they re-tool for 2008, they’ll have a few decisions to make. Those could include replacing Michael Strahan, improving their defensive backfield and possibly replacing Amani Toomer as well. They should seriously consider allowing Kevin Boss to remove the headache that is Jeremy Shockey among all those choices.

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