When the Giants traded Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey to the Saints for draft picks (2nd and 5th-round), there was a contingent that wondered if GM Jerry Reese had gotten a little tipsy off the Super Bowl Brew.
Sure, the team got hot and rode the wave all the way to a Super Bowl championship without him. Kevin Boss, the young Giant employee who replaced Shockey at tight end, looked more than serviceable making big plays down the stretch.
But still, you don't trade the Blonde Agitator. He was clearly one of the G-Men's Big Boys. Even Plax frowned on the deal saying , "The guy walks on the field and he demands a double-team. Before he even straps it up and goes out to play, he's already made the team better."
Much like the NBA, NFL dynamics on offense and defense are predicated on mismatches. Talent so imposing that opposing coaches have to spend extra time in the lab to try and neutralize it. LeBron, Shaq, Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson -- these guys are game changers. Jeremy Shockey, at least in terms of pure talent (as opposed to productivity), was a guy defenses had to gameplan for.
As the Giants offense has matured under Eli Manning, they have been in possession of three dominant forces: a power running game (first with Tiki, now with Earth, Wind & Fire), the 6'5 Plaxico Burress, and Jeremy Shockey The Big Blue offense could manage losing one of those elements for a few games, but removing a key cog permanently, sans a definite replacement, was a system downgrade.
So the question initially seemed to be whether Giant employee Boss could keep his playoff buzz going over the course of a long season. And despite hauling in the game-winning TD Sunday, the answer has been a fairly convincing no.
But lo! There is a savior! From the wide receiving corps comes a sticky-handed beacon of light to save the day and convert wine into first downs: #12 Steve Smith.
Through seven games Smith leads the teams in receptions, and since coming on in the playoffs he's been as consistent as anyone else in delivering big plays in big moments. Bottom line: defenses will have to start accounting for him out of the slot, just like they did with Shockey at tight end.
In fact, the second-rounder may even prove to be an upgrade. Considering the divatude coming from Burress these days, it's getting even more critical to have guys who can keep the offense moving, without all the extra baggage.
All that, plus a couple draft picks! As long as Smith keeps catching for the 6-1 Giants, and Shockey keep talking for the 4-4 Saints, Jerry Reese will have easily gotten the better of this move.