Chuck’s Corner: NY Giants Week One prediction vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sterling Shepard #87. (Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images)
Sterling Shepard #87. (Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images) /
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Daniel Jones
Evan Engram of the NY Giants  (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

NY Giants’ X-Factor player of the week: Evan Engram

You’d be hard pressed to find a player NY Giants fans are more down on right now than Evan Engram. While it’s true he’s struggled to stay on the field due to many nagging injuries over the span of his three-year NFL career, I’m as high on Engram’s potential in 2020 as I ever have been.

New offensive coordinator Jason Garrett loves getting the ball to his tight ends, and as solid as Jason Witten was over the course of his almost two decade career, the former Cowboys head coach never had anything close to the athletic ability at the position that he’ll enjoy with ‘Easy E’.

The former Ole’ Miss star has started just 25 out of a possible 48 games in his career while playing in a total of 34. However, Engram was a full go throughout traning camp and seems primed to have a breakout season.

When he has been on the field, Engram has flat out produced. Even last year in 2019 when he played in a career low eight games, the tight end still managed to put up 44 catches for 457 yards and 3 touchdowns — those numbers translate to 88 catches for over 900 yards and 6 TD’s over a full season which would put him in the upper echelon of NFL tight ends.

There was no play that showed off what Engram has the potential to be more than his monster 75-yard TD against the Tampa Bay Bucs in Big Blue’s epic Week 3 comeback last season, as he gave up a glimpse at what could be while revitalizing the offense in the span of seconds in what was the key play in the team’s 18-point comeback.

Via @NFLBrasil on Twitter:

There might not be another tight end in the entire league – all due respect to Travis Kelce and George Kittle – that could outrun an entire defense like that, as Engram’s 4.42 40 speed was on full display here.

If he can just stay on the field this season we should expect more plays like this and he has a solid shot of breaking a big one tonight against the stout Pittsburgh defense.

One negative aspect of the Steelers’ exotic/agressive 3-4 defense is that the ‘D’ is sometimes forced to put linebackers on an island in 1-1 coverage against skill players which bodes well for Engram’s chances of having a big game tonight.

If Jason Garrett can find a way to isolate him on one of those linebackers Engram will have a big advantage on every one of those reps — youngster Devin Bush is the only Pittsburgh linebacker that could reasonably be expected to stick in coverage against him.

You can expect that stud safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will be shadowing Engram for a solid portion of the game, and if the Steelers were smart that’s the strategy they’d employ.

With Golden Tate’s status still up in the air due to a hamstring injury, we could also see Engram working out of the slot quite a bit with Kaden Smith on the field as a blocker in two tight end sets.

I think Engram busts at least one 30+ yard gain tonight and reminds NY Giants fans why the team selected him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Official statline prediction: 6 catches, 87 yards, TD

Next up, let’s get to my official prediction for tonight’s game!