Known for his fiery temper and extreme competitiveness, Shockey’s arrival in New Orleans was met with bitter skepticism.
Before he could even slip on his new number 88 jersey, fans questioned his character and desire to be a team player.
This was only the natural thing to do. After all Shockey’s tenure with the Giants was a rocky one. Reports had him alienating himself from teammates, questioning his quarterback play - Coughlin’s coaching, and it was even rumored he got into a shouting match with Giants GM Jerry Reese.
On top of all of this Shockey’s debut as a Saint was less than stellar. He played in only11 games in 2008 - posting career lows in yards (483) and touchdowns (0).
He also accused the Saints training staff of misdiagnosing his sports hernia, an injury that plagued him the majority of the season.
It’s hard not spit out the old “here we go again” slogan as we dread the impending Shockey affect.
But wait! All reports have Shockey healthy, happy, and participating in all non-mandatory team activities. Yes that’s right, non-mandatory team activities! Could it be? Has Shockey turned the corner in an effort to revamp his once promising career?
YES - the answer is a resounding yes. I think there is more to Shockey than meets the eye and I know he can be a phenomenal tight end - especially with Drew Brees throwing him the ball.
I also think he realizes that if he doesn’t get his career back on track with the Saints it could be the last straw.
So here are the top five reasons why I think Jeremy Shockey will have a pro bowl caliber with year with the New Orleans Saints:
1. Shockey wants a new contract.
Its no secret that he is after a new deal with the Saints. In the NFL you don’t get the money without the performance. The only measuring stick the team has is his performance in the 2008 season—which was dismal at best.
It’s obvious he must step up his play in '09 if he wants to step up his pay.
2. Shockey is healthy.
For the first time in a couple of years he is completely healthy - 100%. Injury has slowed him down over the last few years and no more so than in 08. He was visibly slower on the field and seemed to be in pain every time he turned to run.
I’ve never had a “sports hernia” but I’m sure it sucks. Barring any setbacks through training camp the Shockey we see on the field next season should be the Shockey of old, a fierce competitor and a hell of a route runner.
3. Shockey now knows the Saints offense.
His arrival in New Orleans was unexpected and late into the offseason. He never truly had the opportunity to get accustomed to Payton’s system and the injuries only increased his time away from the field.
There were several occasions last season that Shockey ran the wrong route and it was obvious he was not very comfortable with his new offense.
With almost a full season under his belt and full participation in this years off season program he should be back to pro bowl form.
4. The Shockey and Brees connection.
If you look back at any of the games Shockey played in last season it was pretty obvious Brees had little to no chemistry with him. Brees is the perfect example of a quarterback that covets the familiarity and trust he develops with receivers that “work” with him.
Lance Moore benefited from it last season as clearly Brees developed that trust in the once backup after Marques Colston went down. Moore totaled career bests in receptions (79), yards (928), and touchdowns (10) because of this.
Shockey’s newly found dedication to the team and Brees will show as the deadly accurate quarterback will hit him over and over again next season. Chemistry is a wonderful thing.
5. Shockey is competitive.
The NFC South now houses some of the NFL’s most elite tight ends. This off season has seen the Falcons acquire perennial pro bowler Tony Gonzalez through a trade with the Chiefs and the Buccaneers acquire the talented Kellen Winslow via a trade with the Browns.
Seriously, what other division is as stacked as the South at tight end? There is absolutely no way that Shockey wants to play second fiddle to either one of these guys. Expect him to play harder and better than he ever has before—I guarantee you he will not be upstaged by either one.
Keith Null is the Lead Writer at whodatdish.com