In my humble opinion, it is incorrect to believe that any success is happening BECAUSE Shockey is out and was in some way hindering the team when he was playing.
Let's take a step back. On Sunday Dec 16 Shockey broke his leg in the Redskin game and is out for the season. On Monday Dec 17 I opined here (link) exactly what has taken place, that losing Shockey was not a news item at all! Coughlin and Gilbride TOTALLY WASTED THIS PROBOWLER'S TALENTS. And the proof is in exactly what HAS transpired, what has actually happened to cause this question to surface in the media. The simple MEDIA logic is that if we are doing the same or even better without Shockey, that he is not great, that he is not important. How can that possibly be? How can a Pro Bowl player NOT be missed? Easy! When you do not use him like a PRO BOWLER should be used. As I pointed out in the post almost a month ago, Shockey had one reception for FOUR FREAKIN' YARDS the previous week and two receptions for EIGHTEEN freakin' yards against Washington before getting hurt. He became a better blocker and was being used in the running game far more often than on pass routes. What a waste! Every time I watch a NYG game where Madden is providing color, I always seem to hear from him something like this: "You have to get Shockey involved early." The operative word here is early. Because if you get him involved late (or never, as a 1 or 2 reception game implies!), his production drops off and you are not utilizing his natural skills which make him such a force. You also allow the rest of the defense the numbers to press the rest of the offense.
Separately, Staple makes the error of assuming that the pick by Sharper vs Minnesota was about Shockey not going hot- wrong! The coaches pointed out that Manning was in error for going hot because the blitz did not happen. (And the fact that Manning telegraphed his pass to Sharper did not help either. Sharper went with Manning's eyes on the throw, NOT with Shockey's body.)
As far as the offense now hitting on all cylinders without him, I have already speculated that the Manning pump-fake might be partially responsible for that. Add Burress getting healthier and more productive, add Smith back as a viable 3rd WR, add Lightning Bradshaw... hmmm, I just wonder where the offense would be WITH Shockey?! I wonder where Shockey would be with a QB who used the pump-fake on his defender?!
BOTTOMLINE: Shockey's diminished role was the sin which we now do not feel because we were feeling it for so many weeks already.