Much like the workload in the New York Giants‘ backfield, running back Saquon Barkley has shouldered much of the criticism on the G-Men’s behalf over the last week. With just six-rushing yards vs. the Steelers and ever-growing pass-protection concerns that led Tiki Barber to question Barkley as an every-down back, Barkley’s faults vastly overshadowed a fellow Giants ex-first-rounder who also put forth a poor 2020 season debut.
However, Evan Engram’s struggles in Week 1 did not go undetected by former 11-year NFL veteran Brian Baldinger. The current day NFL Network and FOX Sports analyst called out Engram’s lackluster blocking skills during the Pittsburgh game, as well as the Giants’ bullishness to continue to put their tight end in positions that don’t fit his skillset.
.@Giants a suggestion that might help; you have a tight end who can’t block..run or pass block…so don’t ask him to do it. Put someone else in that position.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 15, 2020
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Giants Don’t Waver in their Faith of Engram
Engram’s struggles as an in-line blocker are nothing new to Giants fans, as his mishaps in this facet have popped up readily since arriving in New York back in 2017. A tight end by designation only, Engram was a glorified slot receiver in Ole Miss’ spread offense and was rarely asked to stay in as an extra blocker.
However, despite history pointing towards Engram being better suited as a receiver-first and potentially only, the Giants continue to show faith in their tight end.
“We believe Evan can be a complete tight end. He’s demonstrated that at different times throughout his career, and certainly during our time together in training camp up to this point. We don’t see him as a one-dimensional player who’s only a receiver,” Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett told reporters on Thursday. “We also see him as someone who’s willing to do the stuff that tight ends do. Play on the ball with his hand on the ground, block the different ways that we’ll ask him to block. . . I thought there was good evidence of us being able to do that at different times collectively as a group, and other times it wasn’t good enough.”
Engram is well aware of his poor performance in Week 1, which included a statline of just two receptions, nine receiving yards and one dropped pass, and is eyeing a rebound performance in Week 2 vs. the Chicago Bears.
“The expectations I have for myself, I definitely want to and need to be better on all phases,” Engram said. “I definitely hold myself accountable to improving this week and to come out with more better details and things like that against Chicago.”
Engram was asked how he would put those words into motion, and here’s how the tight end responded:
“Just fixing some details that I needed to get fixed,” Engram stated. “Just some small things in the game that I could have been better at. When we broke down the film, we highlighted those and I added that to the emphasis of my practices throughout the week, and then we moved on.”
Engram finished Week 1 with a horrendous 30.9 overall Pro Football Focus grade. Engram’s backup Kaden Smith, on the other hand, played just 29 snaps vs. the Steelers but finished with a PFF grade of 82.0, the fifth-highest mark handed out to a tight end across the NFL in the opening week.
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