Like all of the offensive players who are returning to the Giants this season, this is Evan Engram’s second year in the system. It allows the tight end to have a better base of knowledge regarding the plays ands the philosophies that were new to just about everyone when they were first introduced a summer ago.
But with Engram, Year Two is not just about being familiar with the offense.
It’s also about having the offense – and the offensive coaches – more familiar with him.
Which is just one of the reasons why Pat Shurmur and the Giants are expecting big things from the third-year player in 2019. After a season spent trying to figure out just how best to use Engram and his skillset as a non-traditional tight end who plays better as a receiver than an in-line blocker, Shurmur seems to think he now has a better grasp on his abilities and how to employ them.
“We’ve really defined how we want to use him as a coaching staff,” Shurmur said on Monday.
And how is that?
Like the rest of the league, we’ll have to wait and see. Engram is one of several key pieces on the offense who has sat out the first two preseason games and is likely to sit out the next two as well. Some of that may be to protect the valuable asset from injury in meaningless contests; Engram did miss several games and parts of the offseason workouts recovering from injuries. But part of it may also be about saving him and his new definition for when the regular season begins.
Better to spring him on opponents when the games count.
Judging from the buzz from and around Engram this summer, there should be a lot to spring.
“That’s the thing about being in the second year of the offense, everybody kind of has everything down so we can explore,” Engram told Newsday. “We can put guys here, put guys there, and everybody knows what’s going on… We’re definitely going to have more opportunities and some more unique stuff is going to come through.”
The Giants struggled to harness Engram’s abilities last season. While he has improved as a blocker throughout his career, they relied heavily on using tight ends to sure up weak pass protections and run pushes in 2018. That was not playing to Engram’s strengths. He wound up catching 45 passes for 577 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games.
When Shurmur and his new staff came to the Giants, Engram was one of the players with whom they were most intrigued to work.
“He was kind of hindered by his injuries,” Shurmur said. “There’s not a real process when you’re in the lineup, out of the lineup, in the lineup, and then out of the lineup.”
This year, they want to keep him in the lineup. And, apparently, keep him moving around the field.
“Everybody has a lot on their plate, everybody is going to get a bigger opportunity this year within the offense,” he said. “It’s my part, it’s my job, to come here each and every day to get ready for when those times come and when my number is called…. We have a lot to learn and we have a lot to know. We’re going to have a lot of opportunity to make plays and make this offense a lot better.”
And maybe, for the first time in his career with the Giants, provide a better definition of what Evan Engram can produce.