4. Evan Engram plays Houdini
The NY Giants were extremely thin at the wide receiver position before coming into the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. After losing Cody Core for the season with an injury, and cutting Cory Coleman, the GMEN were left with only Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate III, and Darius Slayton as wideouts with any real experience.
That group of receiving options became even thinner prior to the game against the Steelers when the Giants announced that Tate III would be scratched from the game due to a hamstring injury. With a lack of depth at receiver, Daniel Jones and the Giants offense needed tight end Evan Engram to step up.
Engram, who has shown flashes of brilliance in the past when healthy, represents a dangerous weapon at the tight end position for Jones. He has great speed and athleticism for a tight end of his size and is a mismatch for defensive opponents.
Unfortunately, Engram had a brutal game. Engram would receive a team-high seven targets from Jones but would catch only two of those passes on the evening. He had a few brutal drops on passes that looked very catchable.
If Engram is not playing a viable role in the receiving game, his role in the offense is not very valuable, as he is a liability as a blocker. Despite his athleticism, Engram is frequently beat by both power pass rushers and speed rushers alike and gets manhandled when attempting to run block. Those liabilities were on full display against the Steelers, as Engram routinely had defenders beat him to get to the running back and the quarterback when attempting to block.
I still firmly believe that Engram’s talent will translate into big stats this season. He is typically sure-handed and there is no doubt he presents mismatches for defenders. Additionally, when he’s been healthy, his offensive metrics have been right up there with George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz, who represent three of the best tight ends in the National Football League.
One has to wonder if missing most of the second half of last season and not having a preseason to knock the rust off played a role in Engram’s poor performance against Pittsburgh. Hopefully, he is able to rebound and have a big game against the Bears. If he is, it should allow the wide receivers to get open more, as well as open up the running game a bit.
That said, if the issues persist for Engram, Joe Judge and the NY Giants may opt to go to Kaden Smith with greater frequency, as Smith represents a more traditional option at tight end. He is a significantly better blocker and has shown to be a viable receiving option. Even Levine Tiololo, who is primarily known as a blocking tight end, could receive more looks, as he has been a solid receiver in the few times he has been targeted.
It has become make-or-break for Engram. The ability is tantalizing and difficult to move on from. However, if he doesn’t start showing up in big spots and can’t remain healthy for the GMEN, they will have to move on from him. Next week represents a perfect opportunity to atone for his sins.