Giants Would Be Better Off Without Shockey

There have been seven games since the start of last season in which Jeremy Shockey has had fewer than three catches or not played. The Giants have won six of those games, including their first two wins this season.

You can chalk it up to one of those wacky, statistical anomalies that clog sports all the time. Or you can take a good hard look at the injury-prone headline-seeker who occasionally makes his name as the Giants' starting tight end.

The Giants are long past relying on Shockey to dig them out of a hole. They have one of the top receiver tandems in the game in Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, the team's top player through the first month. Tim Carter is playing well as a third receiver and even special-teams star David Tyree can catch the ball in a pinch.

Visanthe Shiancoe has been pretty good this season backing up Shockey. Shiancoe had a big game in Philadelphia. He assisted Carter's fumble recovery in the Eagles end zone and recovered a late Eli Manning fumble that helped the Giants eventually win the game. Shiancoe has held on to everything thrown his way and never complains about blocking too much. It's what tight ends do, even ones as deluded as Shockey.

Once more Shockey has been little more than talk-radio fodder. He took an ankle injury into the season. Tom Coughlin kept sending him out there instead of giving Shockey a week off. Shockey should have sat out the Seahawks game, which with the bye week would have given him almost two weeks to heal. Now Shockey has a foot injury to go with the ankle injury. Maybe now Coughlin and Shockey can get together on a recovery plan that doesn't include playing each Sunday.

The unspoken truth, though, is that the Giants don't need Shockey. They have won six of seven games since 2005 with him as a non-factor. Shockey is, at best, an average blocker. He's still prone to dropping passes. His most recent injuries join the list of various ailments throughout his career. There are people in the locker room that you can count on. Shockey isn't one of them.

And boy does he whine. Shockey has become a Terrell Owens-like character who, when adversity strikes, can be counted on to make things worse. He reacted to the team's worst moment of the season, the blowout loss in Seattle, by breaking into a group interview with Luke Petitgout. Shockey wanted to make a point about the coaching staff – we were outcoached – when he was really just making another point about himself.

Tiki Barber made a similar statement after last season's playoff loss to Carolina. But teammates respected Barber's opinion because they respect Barber. In Shockey, they heard a typical rant from someone who must be one of the most immature 26-year-olds in sports. Other Giants have come to tuning out Shockey. Some of them wonder why Coughlin, the tough-guy coach, hasn't disciplined Shockey for his behavior.

Shockey insists his meltdowns are the product of his obsession to win. Owens uses the same line after saying something stupid or yelling at teammates on the sideline during games. Like these guys have some kind of superior thirst for winning and a license to act outrageously because of it.

Yeah, right. Tell me Shockey wants to win more than Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, a few lockers down from No. 80. Tell me he wants to win more than Amani Toomer, who helped the Giants beat Philly on rubbery legs in overtime. Tell me he wants to win more than Barber, who played with a broken arm a few seasons back, or all the other players who go straight from the trainer's table to the field.

If Shockey wants to win as much as he says, he'd join the team for offseason workouts. He'd act like a teammate instead of acting like an individual.

No doubt his injuries have cut into Shockey's numbers this season. But Shockey's numbers aren't all that important anymore. The Giants don't need him to win. That is one Shockey-related headline based in logic.

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By the way, The New York Post has made a huge mistake thrusting itself into the uneasy position of both covering and employing Shockey. The Post has found space for his weekly ramblings, often a forum for his rationalizations. The opinion pieces are known in journalism as columns. But calling Shockey's cluster of words columns would be like years ago calling George Plimpton a Detroit Lions football player.

It's hard to imagine The Post taking the same hard-hitting stance on Shockey's antics than the paper does with others. At the very least, the affiliation creates a perception that Shockey will be given a pass when he deserves criticism.

If creating ethical questions is worth selling a few extra newspapers, The Post can have Shockey all to itself. It's only a matter of time before Shockey, like Owens in his own book, claims he's misquoted.

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LaVar Arrington has been a joy to cover by answering criticism with thoughtful analysis instead of sophomoric brooding. He is playing better every game and finally showing glimpses of his Pro Bowl talent. His knee feeling better each week explains part of his improvement.

Arrington can still play. Focus on him for a full quarter or a half and that becomes apparent. It's up to the coaching staff, namely defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, to employ schemes that both suit Arrington's talents and help the defense succeed. Coughlin and his coaches on defense would have been forgiven for using Arrington conservatively had the schemes resulted in defensive dominance. But the Giants "D'' did little to distinguish itself through the first three games.

The Giants deserve to take a huge hit if Arrington doesn't work out. They threw him millions to become a major impact player and bring stability to the unit. If Arrington doesn't become that player, whether because of schemes or because of an aching knee, that's on the Giants, not Arrington.

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