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moving on - Gilbride, Pope: Life after Shockey

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moving on - Gilbride, Pope: Life after Shockey

Post  Big_Pete on Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:28 pm


Moving On
The Giants must move on after the Shockey trade

By Mike Eisen,

JULY 23, 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The member of the Giants organization who was closest to Jeremy Shockey said today he is sad to see the demonstrative tight end leave the team, but is philosophical about his departure.

“We had quite a bond together,” said Michael Pope, who is beginning the ninth season of his second stint as the Giants’ tight ends coach. “But this league has always been full of change and full of people retiring and people moving on. No one stays with the team much anymore for the whole career. The Michael Strahan/Tiki Barber roles of being with the same team for their whole career are a little bit unique in today’s football. But as has been said I think by everybody in the organization, we so much appreciate his contribution, a unique enthusiasm that he provided for the offensive side of the ball, but times change and people move on.”

Shockey moved Monday, when he was traded to the New Orleans Saints for second and fifth-round choices in the 2009 NFL Draft. Pope had been Shockey’s coach since the latter was the Giants’ first-round draft choice in 2002. Shockey was a four-time Pro Bowler whose 371 receptions are the fourth-highest total in franchise history. With several talented young tight ends on the roster, including second-year pro Kevin Boss, the Giants accepted the opportunity to add two valuable draft choices for Shockey.

The Giants’ assistant coaches spoke to the media today, 24 hours before the players report for training camp – and both offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Pope had high praise for Shockey.

“I guess that the best thing I can do is make an analogy between this year, with Jeremy, and the loss of Tiki (Barber) last year,” Gilbride said. “I wasn't sure how we were going to replace him, I was looking forward to finding out what the answers would be, who would step up and fill the void. The same thing certainly exists this year. I don't know how we're going to fill it. He was a good player and did a lot of good things for us.”

“He is in a point now in this system where he could virtually coach the position,” Pope said. “That is what he did, he helped these young players a great deal and he would correct them sometimes before I could run out there and correct them. That is the thing that is going to be missed and the thing that will be difficult to replace and so, yeah it would have be nice if that had worked out (and Shockey had stayed).

“Did I speak to him and encourage him to try to do what is best for his career and for the Giants? Yes, very obviously. As I say when you put that many years into players and you are pretty much the prime of your career from a knowledge standpoint, from knowing the teams, the players in this division that he competed against, no one knew them better than he did. He studied them and had a hell of a rivalry with guys like (Brian) Dawkins down in Philly, those guys had so much respect for each other, that part would be nice if you could continue that, but it just didn’t happen.”

Pope said he will also feel absence on a personal level.

“I will miss him, sure, but he didn’t go to another planet,” Pope said. “He is going to be somewhere in the vicinity. We don’t play them, but yeah, we did have a rather unique relationship because of some absence that existed in his upbringing. He is at an age now where I think a lot of that is probably behind him and he is pretty much able to move on on his own. If we chat in the offseason or he calls for advice or something like that, we will continue to communicate in some way, shape, or form, probably not at all about football.”

*In addition to Boss, the Giants have Michael Matthews, Darcy Johnson, Jerome Collins and Eric Butler at tight end.

“Certainly Kevin Boss emerged as a very viable, legitimate passing threat (at the end of last season),” Gilbride said. “I don't think that there is any question that he will just be better in that role this year. We have to work on other aspects of his game, but certainly Mike Matthews, having Darcy Johnson back, all of those things. I don't know what the roles will be, but I don't feel badly that we don't have somebody that can step up and do some things for us. There may be some adjustments we have to make, maybe instead of doing scheme blocking on certain plays we work in conjunction with the tackle and zone block. There are certain things that we can do that we did do last year. As always, you have to make continual adjustments depending on how your guys are doing. I really don't know. Kevin Boss has gained twenty pounds of strength and hopefully he will be able to do all the things that are required at the tight end position, but until we put the pads on, we certainly couldn't make that assessment.

“I'm excited and looking forward very much to see our young guys have the opportunity to play and fill the role and see what adaptations or modifications we have to make with the tight end role. What do we do? Do we move it? Do we play less two tights? Do we have certain restrictions in certain players that maybe in other players they can do certain things and they can't do other aspects of the tight end position, of the tight end requirements that we're looking for? I don't know the answer, but I'm excited about seeing our young guys on the field. I feel good about them. I know they will compete hard, I know they'll work hard, and I know that they will be trying to the best at we are asking them. That part I'm excited about.”

“These young players now are going to have to listen to this old silver-haired fox a little bit more and take in some of the things,” Pope said. “When (Jeremy) came here as a rookie we had older players in Dan Campbell and when Mark Bavaro came here as a rookie, we had Donnie Hasselbeck, so we don’t really have that mentor guy right now so these players are really going to have to push and encourage and compete with each other and somebody has to step up and take a lot of these roles.”

*Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said his unit has candidates who can replace Michael Strahan’s leadership. Strahan retired last month, ending a stellar 15-year career that included seven Pro Bowls.

“I think I mentioned this in the spring, one of the exciting things in this league or any league when you lose a leader is to sit back and watch and see who are the guys that are going to step ahead and become the leaders,” Spagnuolo said. “In this league and any athletic team organization somebody steps up, so we will keep our eyes open. If I was a betting man I have some guys in mind, I am not going to reveal them now, I will just be interested to see who does that and it will be important that somebody does.”

*Spagnuolo and secondary/cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta said Aaron Ross and Corey Webster will line up as the first team corners when practice begins on Friday.

“That’s how we ended the season and they started the Super Bowl, so they earned that right,” Giunta said. “However, after the first practice it’s an open competition.”

Asked about the potential of the young corners, Giunta said, “The sky is the limit. As long as they continue to grow, work hard, and stay healthy, they will have great futures. They have the size, speed, and athletic ability to be very good. They have the emotional and psychological make-up and they are both very smart.”

*The Giants have four front-line safeties in veteran Sammy Knight, young vets James Butler and Michael Johnson and first-round draft choice Kenny Phillips. So who is going to start?

“I have absolutely no idea,” said David Merritt, the secondary/safeties coach. “Honestly, when I look at it right now, I see four starters. Don't rule out the other two rookies that we have. Nehemiah Warrick, I can't wait to see this kid in pads, because that's what he is known for, for being an aggressive type tackler. Terrance Stringer, the kid from Tuskegee, I tease him all the time about Frank Walker, but he is smart, this kid showed range, so I'm looking forward to see him in pads as well. I feel very good with our first four and hopefully these last two rookies can push up and maybe take a job.”

*Gerris Wilkinson will line up with the first team at weakside linebacker.

“He has been here and is familiar with the system and based on that merit I don’t think there is anyone more deserving,” linebackers coach Bill Sheridan said. “He knows he is fighting for a job, as do the rest of the guys.”
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Re: moving on - Gilbride, Pope: Life after Shockey

Post  Big_Pete on Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:32 pm

That is probably the best thing about the whole Shockey trade.

The Giants can put to bed the entire Shockey saga and the media circus that follows him and head into the 2008 season with a fresh slate.
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