Looking it in. (Photo Source)
The 2008 season is over and while it may be pretty simple to narrow down the cause of death to a handful of obvious problems, one can never really know until all of the facts are completely examined. Now that the season is officially dead let's cut this bad boy open and examine some of the areas that may have caused the Saints unexpected and untimely demise last year. So let's get all Dr. Michael Baden on the pathetic four months we just called a football season and try to pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong.
First up on the examination table is Jeremy Shockey. We all remember that fateful afternoon on July 21st when Jay Glazer was the first to break the news that Shockey had actually been traded to the Saints after months of speculation. Feelings were mixed from the very start. Would Shockey be a difference maker in this offense and free up Marques Colston to make more plays? Was his leg going to be healthy? Would Payton and Brees be able to keep him in check or would Shockey become a locker room cancer? Do we actually want the Shock-meister on our football team? Now a year later, I think we've got some answers.
Let's first take a look at Shockey's stats for this season:
|Jeremy Shockey||Receiving||Kickoff Returns||Punt Returns|
While these aren't the worst figures I've ever seen for a tight end, they certainly seem pedestrian for a player with so much hype surrounding him and thought to be a savior for the offense. The Saints offense was the most powerful in the league but it surprisingly came from underrated players like Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Pierre Thomas and fellow tight end Billy Miller. In fact, compare Shockey's stats to those of Billy Miller, who played in the exact same number of games in 2008.
|Receiving||Kickoff Returns||Punt Returns|
Miller got more done with less touches. The fact is, Shockey made some plays but he never found the end zone and he was never a huge boost for the offense.
Shockey is notorious for his nagging injury problem and the 2008 season was no different. Though his questionable broken leg turned out to be okay, it was a sports hernia injury that kept Shockey sidelined for a few games and insignificant in a few more. The good news here is that Shockey is healthy this off-season and will be able to focus on football, not injury, and has expressed a desire to be more involved with the organization. There still may be hope for this one.
The other good news is that Shockey's personality hasn't torn this team apart. Sure there was that shouting match with Drew Brees in Atlanta that got a lot of publicity, but it barely caused a ripple in the lockeroom. Perhaps that speaks more about the the rest of the quality characters on this team but regardless, the squad is still unified with no distractions in sight.
Shockey's on a short lease! (Photo Source)
Dr. Michael Baden's Post Mortem Report: Shockey was a waste this season and Dr. Baden could take him or leave him. The Saints offense would have been just fine without him and the second and fifth round draft picks the Saints gave up to get him would be much more valuable to the team right now moving forward. Sean Payton's strong desire to bring Shockey to New Orleans and his judgement with this move is still questionable. On the other hand, the doctor is a patient man and he's willing to give Jeremy another chance next season. Hopefully he returns to his Pro-Bowl form in 2009; otherwise this trade can officially be labeled a bust. But as far as last season is concerned, Shockey didn't really hurt the team chances for success...he just didn't help. Therefore, Jeremy Shockey was not the cause of death for the Saints in 2008.