In the first six quarters of the Giants’ 2020 season, Evan Engram caught two passes for nine yards.
But in the two most recent quarters, played last Sunday in Chicago, the multi-talented tight end had six receptions for 65 yards, both team-leading figures for the entire game. That included four catches in the fourth quarter of the Giants’ 17-13 loss to the Bears.
So, did the light come on for Engram?
“I definitely kind of got going. I got into a rhythm, kind of got settled in,” Engram said today. “That was our mindset as an offense coming out for the second half. To get going, make some plays, get the ball rolling. That was just me kind of getting opportunities and cashing in on them, doing my job.”
Engram ‘s revival was due to old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.
“You just have to keep banging away, you really do,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “There were some plays in the first game and the early part of the second game that certainly Evan would like to have back. You keep playing, you keep banging and he’s done a really good job working hard in practice. He’s playing hard. He had some opportunities as that game wore on and he took advantage of them. He won some one on one matchups, he made some runs after the catch that were impressive for us. Big, explosive plays like we’re talking about.”
Engram’s personal revival began modestly, with a seven-yard reception on the first play of what became a 95-yard touchdown drive. He later caught a six-yarder that advanced the ball to the Bears’ seven-yard line.
Engram had three catches for 30 yards on a fourth-quarter possession that ended with Graham Gano’s 37-yard field goal. And he accounted for the longest play on the game’s final series, a short pass that Engram turned into a 22-yard gain. But the Giants couldn’t get into the end zone and walked off the field without that desired first victory.
But if Engram can continue to be a big threat in the passing game, the Giants will improve their chances of earning it this week against the San Francisco 49ers in MetLife Stadium.
“He’s certainly going to be a big part of our offense going forward,” Garrett said. “Just love his approach, love everything about it. He’ll get better and better and better the more he plays.”
Coach Joe Judge has remained a strong supporter of the fourth-year pro.
“You know what I look at him as? As a developing player,” Judge said. “I think Evan’s young enough where we have not seen his best ball. But he’s a guy that works every day tirelessly. You guys (reporters) saw him through training camp. This guy really empties the tank. You see him every day in practice. This guy, when you look at his GPS reports after practice in terms of yards and speed and all of that stuff, he’s a guy you have to monitor and kind of back off a little bit because this guy has no governor on himself. He goes full speed all the time. He works tirelessly.”
“The guys respond to him. He does a great job preparing himself. He’s very mentally tough. He’s improving all the time. A lot of guys got on him after that first game in terms of where the production was. I think we saw a glimpse of that last week. He really made some good plays for us at key times, and he’ll continue to do that throughout the season when the opportunity comes his way. He doesn’t have to force it. He doesn’t have to do anything outside of his own responsibility or job. When the play comes his way, he has to be in position to go ahead and finish it. We have confidence he will.”
So does Engram, who refuses to pin his slow start on trying to get comfortable in the offensive system Garrett installed in the team’s virtual offseason.
“I don’t want to make any excuse,’ Engram said. “I think everybody is in the same boat. Everybody has had a different offseason and had to overcome some things with the circumstances that COVID has kind of presented.”
Now that he’s made his first substantial contribution this season, Engram expects to accomplish much more.