New Orleans Saints’ Jeremy Shockey has Drew Brees throwing fits

Posted by Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune November 09, 2008 10:16PM

ATLANTA – As Drew Brees frantically and futilely tried to pass the Saints back into contention against the Falcons on Sunday, Jeremy Shockey, the club’s high-profile offseason acquisition, found himself in a strange and decidedly low-profile place: on the sideline.

In the desperate fourth-quarter finish, Brees completed a remarkable 19 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns.
None of them was to Shockey.

Falcons defenders caught more passes from Brees (three) than Shockey did.

Instead, the two-time Pro Bowl tight end spent most of the wild final period parked in idle, alternating between standing with helmet in hand on the sideline or slumped alone on the bench with his helmet at his feet.

The Saints ran 36 plays in the fourth quarter — the equivalent of a normal half — and Shockey was on the field for three of them.

The official explanation was that Shockey had left the game with an injury, and indeed Shockey’s right ankle was swollen with fluid in the postgame locker room.

But that didn’t explain Shockey’s absence on the drive before the injury, which occurred on
the second drive of the fourth quarter. On the Saints’ first possession of the fourth quarter,
Billy Miller played almost every down at tight end.

“We rotated (Shockey) and Billy because of the nature of what we were doing route-wise,”
Saints Coach Sean Payton said.

If that was the case, the only rotation I saw was Miller rotating in and Shockey rotating to
the sideline.

Afterward, Shockey said anyone who thought he was out of the game for any reason other
than his injury “was wrong.” But clearly he was out of the game for some reason.

Perhaps it was fallout from his foibles on the Saints’ final offensive play of the third quarter.

Facing third-and-10 from the Saints’ 37-yard line and still within two touchdowns, Shockey failed to pick up a rushing Falcons defender, forcing Brees to unload a quick dump-off pass to him in the left flat to avoid a sack.

Not only did Shockey miss the block, he missed the ball, dropping it with a half-hearted
effort that spurred Brees to sprint toward him and emotionally voice his frustration. The
animated discussion continued on the Saints’ sideline.

“It was just a miscommunication on the protection from the play before, so we were just
talking through it,” Brees said. “It was not a big deal other than just trying to get on the
same page.”

Shockey fell on the sword, saying he misidentified the player Brees assigned him to
block at the line of scrimmage.

“I put that on me,” Shockey said. “It’s just one little play, but it should never happen. That
was really about the only miscommunication.”

Shockey said the heated sideline discussion with Brees was healthy.

“It’s very competitive,” he said. “Everyone wants to win; everyone wants to do well.
That’s how this league is. It’s a good thing that Drew wants to play well, and I want to do the same. No one was more disappointed in that play than myself.”

Whether Shockey was injured or just plain benched, it’s becoming clear that the Saints are
losing confidence in him.

Shockey and Brees engaged in a similar heated discussion after an incompletion in the sec´
ond half of the Chargers game two weeks ago.

Since returning from surgery to repair a sports hernia last month, Shockey has caught
eight passes for 72 yards in three games. That includes a two-catch, 16-yard effort against
the Falcons.

In six games, Shockey has caught 24 passes for a quiet 223 yards. He has yet to catch a
touchdown pass.

Clearly, this isn’t what either side envisioned when the trade went down two days before the start of training camp.

Indeed, this was the week we were supposed to see the “real” Shockey and Marques Colston, the players expected to be Brees’ top receiving threats this season.

Fresh off the bye week and a big win against San Diego, Colston and Shockey were expected to be back at full strength for the Falcons and ready to lead the Saints to a strong second-half finish.

Colston did his part, catching seven passes for 140 yards. He looked like the Colston of old.

And Shockey? He was M.I.A. — at least when it counted.

“It’s frustrating, but what can you do?” Shockey said. “I can sit around and mope about it, or I can come back stronger than ever.”

Sounds good.

But before you can come back, you have to arrive.

Saints fans are still waiting to see the real Jeremy Shockey. And with each passing game and frustrating finish, they’re starting to wonder if they ever will.

Comments are closed.