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Vacchiano: No Shockey means Giants can exhale

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News has penned an awesome piece for Pro Football Talk on how subtracting Jeremy Shockey has been good for the New York Giants.

Vacchiano reaches back well beyond last season to make his case.

‘Twas the night before Christmas in 2005 and the Giants were one win away from clinching the NFC East, but they were losing early in the game to the Washington Redskins. They were struggling and things were tense until late in the first half when they were finally able to exhale in the offensive huddle.

Because Jeremy Shockey wasn’t around.

He had injured his ankle (while committing a pass interference penalty) and his backup, Visanthe Shiancoe, was forced onto the field.

“There were plays where (Shiancoe) was running free down the middle of the field (and) Shank would come back and say, ‘I think you had me, but don’t worry, we’ll get it,’” former Giants backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck says in my new book, 'Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback.' “If that’s Jeremy, he’s thinking ‘I just had a 60-yard touchdown that Eli didn’t throw to me. I’m pissed.’ Then he comes back saying, ‘I’m wide open!’”

Added one of their teammates, who preferred to remain anonymous: “There was a calm on the sidelines that was never there before.”

There is more.

Shockey, as it turned out, was more of a disruptive force for the team and for Manning than anyone ever knew.

That should be clear to anyone who watched the Giants win a Super Bowl without him last season, after he broke his leg in Week 15, or to anyone who’s watched the Giants calmly avoid a Super Bowl hangover and get off to a 3-0 start in 2008. It’s not that they and their quarterback are better off without Shockey’s enormous talent – even Manning calls that a “stupid” theory.

It’s that they are both better off without his tired act.

Just look at what they were able to do in Weeks 2 and 3 of this season, when they struggled to put away inferior opponents. It was in situations like those, when the offense would be struggling to score points against teams they knew they should beat, that Shockey would be slamming his helmet, waving his arms, cursing at his teammates and demanding the ball.

Without him, when things get tough, the Giants can do what Manning does best – calmly analyze the situation, regroup, and get their act together.

It's a subject we have probably beaten to death, but still great work by Vacchiano.

Ralph, by the way, seems to be all over the place lately giving interviews to various blogs and radio shows and making TV appearances. As I did with the wonderful Mike Garafolo Friday, I wil try to catch up with Vacchiano around the mid-point of the season and get him to answer some questions for us.