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Friday, January 05, 2007

Giants Playoff coverage#2

NY Times Reporter David Picker tells us the difference between Vishante Shiancoe and Jeremey Shockey

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Jan. 4 — There is nothing subtle about Jeremy Shockey. His hair is surfer-dude blond, his arms are emblazoned with tattoos, and he barks at opponents and officials when things do not bounce his way.
Shockey’s teammates would not change him one bit.
“He’s our emotional leader,” center Shaun O’Hara said before practice Thursday. “Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. But you know you’re going to get the same thing from him every time, and I love him for it. I wouldn’t want anybody else out there.”
There is a chance the Giants will have to play with the backup tight end Visanthe Shiancoe instead of Shockey in Sunday’s wild-card game in Philadelphia. Shockey, who practiced Thursday for the first time since injuring his left ankle against the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 24, was listed as questionable. Coach Tom Coughlin said Shockey was making progress.
When Shiancoe has started in place of Shockey, the Giants’ offense has changed considerably. Shiancoe is widely regarded as a blocking tight end; Shockey led the team this season with 66 receptions.
But in terms of confidence and self-promotion, Shiancoe and Shockey appear to be on equal footing.
“Look, man, I’m 6-5, 255 pounds,” said Shiancoe, who is listed as 6-4 and 250 pounds in the Giants’ media guide. “I run a 4.5. I’m strong as — excuse me — hell. So I can basically do anything the coaches tell me to do, and they know that.”
He added, “If Shockey is not able to go, of course I could get 100 yards.”
That would be a first. Shiancoe had a career-high 12 catches this season for 81 yards and no touchdowns. He has never caught a pass longer than 17 yards in his career.
But Shiancoe might be a better blocker than Shockey, who was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl this season. And he certainly seems to be more durable. Shiancoe has played in every game since being drafted by the Giants in the third round in 2003, while Shockey has missed 11 games in five seasons.
The swollen ankle forced Shockey to miss last Saturday’s regular-season finale in Washington.
“I just felt like I couldn’t compete as hard as Visanthe Shiancoe and the other guys,” Shockey said Wednesday when asked about not playing against the Redskins. “They got an opportunity and they did very well.”
Shiancoe started in Washington and had 1 reception for 8 yards in the Giants’ 34-28 victory. Tiki Barber rushed for a club-record 234 yards on 23 carries. Coincidence? Shiancoe said he did not think so, and he may have had a point. The Giants appeared to stick with the running game longer than they would have had Shockey been available.
The Giants also did not miss a beat when Shockey was limited by an injured right ankle at the start of the season. They won six of their first eight games with Shiancoe occasionally filling in. With Shockey sidelined in the overtime of the Giants’ 30-24 victory in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, Shiancoe wrested away a 9-yard pass from safety Brian Dawkins, sustaining the game-winning drive.
But Shockey is clearly a better fit in the offense. When Barber was asked Tuesday about the impact Shockey’s absence had in Washington, he said: “We were forced to run the ball. It hurts our intermediate pass game, and this is not a slight on Shiancoe at all. But he’s inexperienced in there.”
Barber, who ran for touchdowns of 15, 55 and 50 yards against the Redskins, added that Shiancoe was a good blocker.
“I try to maul people, man,” Shiancoe said about the subtleties of blocking. “Tiki’s all over the place, man. You don’t know where he’s going to go. And usually, for some reason, he follows behind me.”
Even if Shockey is healthy enough to play Sunday, Shiancoe will likely work up a sweat. He started three games in which the Giants opened with dual tight-end sets, and he is a fixture on special teams, playing on most kickoff returns and field-goal attempts.
But if Shockey is on the field, Shiancoe’s role will be limited at best. Still, he insisted he was not bothered by being overshadowed by Shockey.
“Everyone thinks that they’re starters,” Shiancoe said. “Nobody wants their whole career to not be really a strong part of the offense. But it’s my role here — the backup tight end.”

Jets Playoff coverage#2

NY TIMES Jets Beat Reporter Karen Crouse's take on this weeks Wildcard game-My Slant at the end...


Punishment Laps Help Jets Kick Penalty Habit

By KAREN CROUSE
Published: January 5, 2007
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Jan. 4 — The realization came during training camp. The Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson, was watching a practice from the sideline when his franchise quarterback, Chad Pennington, jogged past while running a punishment lap for making a rare mental error. It was then that Johnson knew that his new coach, Eric Mangini, would be a stickler for correctness.

Under Mangini’s predecessor, Herman Edwards, the Jets did a good job when it came to self-discipline. They led the N.F.L. in fewest penalties during Edwards’s rookie season, in 2001. And last season, despite a 4-12 record, the Jets inflicted relatively little harm on themselves, finishing with the fifth fewest penalties in the league.

But this season has been even better, with the Jets ranking No. 3 in the league in fewest penalties (70) and No. 2 in penalty yardage (560). Of the 12 teams in the postseason, no one has better penalty numbers than the Jets, a testament to their self-control and a clear factor in their surprising success.

In a season in which the Jets were breaking in a rookie head coach, using coordinators who had never called plays in the N.F.L. and relying on a backfield bereft of Curtis Martin, there was virtually no margin for error, no way for the Jets to succeed if they tripped themselves with repeated penalties. They didn’t.

Mangini’s message of playing smart was reinforced through the running of extra laps for practice infractions that fell under the category of self-destruction, like turnovers, penalties and mental errors. All those laps later, the Jets are getting ready for a first-round playoff game on Sunday against New England.

“Those laps have a lot to do with it,” safety Rashad Washington said Thursday with a wry laugh. “Those things get tiring, especially after you’ve been practicing twice a day and you end up having to run a lap in the middle of practice, then come back and jump right back in. You try your best in practice not to make dumb penalties so you don’t have to run, and it carries over to the game.”

The discipline displayed by the Jets received mostly lip service from the playoff-bound Giants. Despite having a coach, Tom Coughlin, with a reputation for being a disciplinarian, the Giants were among the most penalized teams in the league this season. They ranked No. 22 in fewest penalties, with 101, and were 23rd in fewest penalty yards (881). Last season they were even worse.

In fact, each New York team has been a reflection of its coach, with the Jets playing with the dispassionate poise of the poker-faced Mangini and the Giants (8-8) playing with the questionable composure sometimes displayed by Coughlin.

The Giants were called for 18 personal fouls in 16 games this season, the worst number of any team. The Jets had five, which was tied for the second-fewest in the league with five other teams.

The Jets were also one of five teams that did not incur an unsportsmanlike penalty during the regular season. Jets tight end Doug Jolley was called for one in a preseason game against the Giants, when he head-butted defensive back Sam Madison.

After that game, a 13-7 loss, Mangini talked about Jolley’s foul being “really unacceptable” and “selfish.” Within days, Jolley was gone, traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a seventh-round draft pick.

If the laps did not drive the message home about penalties, Jolley’s banishment probably did. “The coaches emphasize not making stupid penalties,” Washington said, “and being focused and committed to what we’re trying to get done.”

There are at least two people with officiating experience at every practice, and at Mangini’s behest, they call practice as tightly as any game crew. “It is a significant emphasis,” Mangini said.

Erik Coleman, the Jets’ third-year safety, gave an assist to the practice officials for the feat the Jets pulled off of going nearly eight games this season without drawing a defensive pass-interference penalty.

The streak was snapped when safety Kerry Rhodes was called for interfering with Oakland tight end Courtney Anderson in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 23-3 victory last Sunday. “I didn’t think it was pass interference,” Rhodes said, smiling.

Corwin Brown, the Jets’ defensive backs coach, said during a chance encounter in a hallway Wednesday that he was not aware of the streak. His players are positive that his fingerprints are all over their success.

“Corwin’s been working with us on being patient and calm when the ball is in the air and just looking at the receiver,” the rookie cornerback Drew Coleman said. “We call it not losing your moxie.”

What does the moxie mantra cover? “Playing with a little poise instead of getting rattled when stuff goes bad and getting all out of whack,” Washington said. “Just calming yourself.”

Moxie by proxy: it is the Jets’ way. The question to be answered Sunday is if the Mangini-mirroring Jets are disciplined enough to defeat a team that is heavily favored to beat them.

EXTRA POINTS

Eric Mangini tried to make light Thursday of the cold-fish handshakes that he and his mentor, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, exchanged after each of their regular-season meetings. “We do a lot of self-scouting after the game: what we did well, what we did poorly,” Mangini said. Breaking into a smile, he added that he thought his handshake was strong and firm. “I’ve experimented with a couple other different kinds that haven’t worked for me,” Mangini said with a laugh. ... Center Nick Mangold did not receive any votes for offensive rookie of the year despite making 16 starts and few mistakes. But, Mangini said, “He got center of the year for us.”

So Karen Is Right: The Jets are one of the Least Penalized teams in pro football. When we attended Training camp in July, They ran 2 laps in the 90+ degree sweltering heat(that made my wife pass out after a panic attack) for every Penalty incurred.

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