Evan Engram made two important fourth-quarter catches in the past two games, both of which led to touchdowns that either produced or secured a victory. It would seem as if he is establishing himself as a force in the Giants’ offense.
Actually, it’s been just the opposite.
For the past two weeks, the Giants decreased Engram’s role significantly. On Sunday against the Bucs, he didn’t even start and played just over a dozen snaps. It’s one of the major tweaks the Giants have employed since the bye week, and Engram is trying to come to grips with it.
“It’s an easy position to get frustrated,” the second-year tight end said after the 38-35 win Sunday. “It’s an easy position to kind of let doubt come in and question when your mind should be on other things.”
Yet Engram has fought hard not to let sinking on the depth chart sink his concentration.
“I knew something was going to come, I knew my time was going to come,” he said. “It does feel good when those times do come, especially in big moments.”
Pat Shurmur said the Giants have reduced Engram’s snaps in order to keep him fresher at the end of games. That may be part of it. The other element undoubtedly is the Giants’ new identity of using big personnel groupings. That includes fullback Eli Penny, and when they have two tight ends for blocking, they usually are Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson.
That has helped the running game (along with 47 carries by Saquon Barkley in the past two games). Engram, whose blocking always has been suspect and never a big part of his skill set, finds himself on the bench.
“If that’s the plan, and that’s what it’s looked like, it’s been best for the team these past two weeks,” Engram said. “I’m not going to let it get to me. I’ve been in situations before where I was frustrated, and then when I do get my chances, I can’t deliver. So it’s just the mindset, being ready, supporting the guys and making the play when it happens.”
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for him in the offense.
“The last long pass on the last scoring drive, that’s something that of those three [tight ends], only Evan can do,” Shurmur said of the 54-yard catch-and-run to the 11 with 4:09 left that set up Barkley’s 2-yard touchdown run to make it 38-28. “Catch the ball in the open field and run for a very long way. Those other two guys would have got hawked, they would have got run down. But that’s OK. They did other things well. That’s the challenge each week to try to use them in a way that makes the most sense.”
In Engram’s case, that seems to mean using him less overall.