Shockey/Saints Update


One of the bigger names left on the trade market heading into the NFL Draft is Jeremy Shockey of the Giants. New Era’s Luke Chandler analyzes his future with the team.
By Luke Paul Chandler
The NFL talent evaluation process, by most accounts, is more of a gamble than an educated guess. Teams scour over tape and project out how well a player may end up transitioning to Sundays, often looking for upsides, and possible tweaks to make to a player’s game. If the game were that simple, just watching tape and making projections, then the risk factors would be taken out of the game. Many times, physical skill and production outweigh potential character concerns.
Gambling on character has turned into the NFL’s greatest roll of the dice. In the case of Jeremy Shockey, the New York Giants tight end, it is becoming tiresome for all parties involved. He’s running himself out of options.
The enigmatic star has been caused teammates and coaches to pull their hair out since his rookie year, in 2002. Shockey came out early, making comments on the Howard Stern Show about his distaste for the potential of homosexual teammates in the shower. While it was an early sign on his later troubles, much was forgotten due to the promise he showed, winning the Rookie of the Year Award. Shockey has trouble matching the success of his rookie year, where he achieved personal bests in receiving yards, receptions and health. Throughout the early portion of his career, he was matched up with strong-willed and vocal quarterbacks Kerry Collins, and then Kurt Warner. With the later ascension of quarterback Eli Manning to starter late in the 2004 season, a tumultuous relationship began.
He is a steady receiving threat at tight end who had the athleticism and hands to recover from bad throws, and rescue his quarterback. In fact, Manning by all accounts has always been troubled by the presence of Shockey on the field with him, although the two would seem to be a match made in Heaven. Manning is a strong armed, but mistake prone quarterback who can be coaxed into bad interceptions in tight situations.
Shockey had never played with a quarterback of Manning’s caliber and makeup. Manning had the kind of zip and timing on his ball that could get Shockey the ball deep against the zone, and then Shockey would fight for yards after the Shockey has very little give in his game, and at times appears to be a tight end that many quarterbacks beg for. Especially early in his career, general manager Ernie Acorsi felt that he had given Manning a steady to help him along as he developed.
The two have never hit the right cord, and are in a constant state of disarray. No further proof is needed than Week 10 against Dallas, where Shockey posted a 12 catch, 129 receiving yard day with a touchdown. That game alone represented more than 20 percent of Shockey’s receiving yards for the season. With an elite receiving threat like that, the Giants still managed to lose by 11, with Manning only able to put together a 72.7 passer rating for the day. That day surmised the entire nature of Shockey and Manning’s relationship, one that would never turn out for good. Shockey’s demanding, prima-donna type attitude never fit well with the laid back, relaxed Manning.
In many games, Shockey would demand the ball in tight situations, often ignoring the fact that he may not have been open in those situations, or that he was not a primary target. After Shockey went down with a broken fibula in Week 15, the rest became history. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl, with rookie Kevin Boss as their primary target at tight end, and Manning played the football of his life.
It’s no shock now that the rumors are flowing of a possible Shockey trade. There are strong indications a draft day deal involving the New Orleans second round pick and third-year safety Roman Harper for Shockey will go through, although both teams are denying it at the moment. Shockey has even been rumored to say that he’s looking forward to being on the Saints, and has started to put interest on real estate in the region.
On paper, like most of Shockey’s career, this move makes sense. Sean Payton’s offense would greatly benefit from the presence of a reliable receiving option at tight end. Shockey would draw down a safety for coverage, which would not allow teams to double cover Marcus Colston over the top, or to bracket him. Throughout his career, Shockey has also done a good job of moving the chains in the past, and is a flawless route runner. The Saints red-zone packages would also benefit from the presence of Shockey who would increase their options down in enemy territory, and limit their predictability. Also, quarterback Drew Brees has a high comfort level in his tight ends, and loves to distribute the ball to them. Not since his time in San Diego with Antonio Gates has Brees had such a capable tight end.
One piece of the puzzle that remains to be seen is how the Saints leader on the field, Brees, and Shockey would co-exist. Brees is a no-nonsense kind of player who would not take kindly being told how to do his job, a task that Shockey frequently undertook while working with Manning in New York. Shockey’s demands for the ball would not get far with Brees, who distributes the ball very well in Payton’s West Coast offense. Brees’ quick reaction skills allow him to get the ball to the best target for that play, no matter the player. Shockey often feels he’s open, or can get open on any play. Those two attributes would mix like oil and water.
For all of the hoopla and media that surrounds Shockey, he still remains a viable deep threat, when healthy. His athleticism and steady hands make him an elite player at tight end, but he’s his own worst enemy out on the field. The longer Shockey lets himself get in the way, the less likely it is he ever finds a true home in the NFL. The best thing for Shockey to do now would be to accept a trade, and move on to a team like New Orleans. He could learn a great deal if he no longer allows his ego to get in the way. Time will tell if his ego is bruised enough to embrace a change in this league.

2 Responses

  1. I agree: The best thing for Shockey to do now is accept a trade. If he is indeed traded to the Saints, this will allow him to make a fresh start with a new team. He needs that, because Shockey has caused problems for himself with the Giants.

  2. Good grief! A tight end with Shockey’s physical ability and wonderful hands would be explosive in the Saint’s offensive sets. Shockey can outrun any linebacker and most of the safeties in the NFL. This one is a no-brainer, especially for Shockey himself.

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