After a rookie campaign that suggested Giants tight end Evan Engram would be used as a focal point, the past two seasons have seen him fall short of that feat due to injuries and usage.
However, with new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett coming to town, Engram could be poised for his first 1,000-yard season if he can stay healthy and if he ends up being used similarly as Jason Witten was used in Garrett's offenses in Dallas.
Over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old Engram's targets have been almost cut in half, though it does need to be noted that in his rookie season, he played in 891 snaps whereas in the last two seasons, he played in 482 and 445 snaps respectively.
During his rookie season, Engram was targeted 115 times; due to injuries, he's been targeted just 132 times in the past two seasons.
Between the ages of 25 and 31, Jason Witten was targeted in the Cowboys offense an average of 127 times a year--and that was despite their having a legitimate No. 1 receiver and a top rushing attack.
Now that Garrett is in charge of deploying the Giants' offensive talent to the best of its abilities, we are all very much looking forward to seeing what he has in mind. When it comes to Engram, who, despite his injury history, is still a highly talented individual capable of inflicting damage in the passing game, we'll probably see him get more targets.
Whether he gets to a Witten-like level of targets depends heavily on his production early. Engram's catch percentage has improved from his rookie season, and his blocking has made tremendous strides.
This will help in a Garrett offense that favors tight ends that can run-block and catch. But again, durability will be another key to Engram’s production. Witten was able to show up every Sunday and perform. Engram has yet to do that.
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You can also expect to see Engram utilized more in two-tight end sets. With Engram's versatility and a runner like Saquon Barkley, Garrett will likely want to employ personnel alignments that says "run," but which allows them the option of passing.
The 12-personnel formation (one back and two tight ends) might end up being a favorite of Garrett’s and is a formation that would work well with the Giants' current talent.
Garrett will also probably make a conscious effort to exploit Engram’s athleticism by getting him the ball quickly in open space so that he can run after the catch. He will also use him as a deep threat and set up coverage mismatches against linebackers and strong safeties.
In the video below, you can see a whiteboard demonstration of a couple of play designs Garrett used to get the ball into Jason Witten’s hands that he will probably call to utilize Engram’s skills.
While Witten is a certified future Hall of Fame tight end, there is no denying that a healthy Engram’s athleticism is on another level.
It is also interesting that Garrett became the Cowboy’s offensive coordinator when Witten was 25 years old, the same age Engram happens to be as he prepares to work with Garrett for the first time.
The possibilities of what Garrett's full offense might look like are endless and intriguing, and this might be the marriage needed to help the Giants become more dynamic offensively and allow Engram to reach his full potential.