With concerns surrounding the availability of their top three wide receivers, the New York Giants have every reason to be worried. After trading away one of the best wide receivers in the league this offseason, the next three on the depth chart will all likely miss time in the preseason and/or regular season (pending Golden Tate‘s appeal results). Rather than turning to the top free agents available or to the trade market, the Giants remained calm and steady.
The Giants’ front office signed T.J. Jones, a former sixth-round pick with the Detriot Lions, and Amba Etta-Tawo, a former Giant practice squad player from last year. While these signings may seem insubstantial, especially considering the lack of experience the latter has in the league, the Giants have faith their offense will stay afloat. Here’s why they had good reasons to do so.
Saquon Barkley will free up the wide receivers
Every team that faces the New York Giants this season will put primary focus on stopping the run. Limiting Saquon Barkley in the run game will be necessary for teams to win. Defenses will dedicate linebackers to the middle of the field to clog the running lanes. However, this opens up more opportunities for the receivers to have 1-on-1 matchups in the passing game. If the receivers are able to win their matchups, they should see plenty of opportunities to stretch the field.
Evan Engram will play a major role in the offense
There are many players who have something to prove on the New York Giants’ defense in 2019. However, there is no player on the offense with more to prove than Evan Engram.
The 6’3″ tight end is entering his third season, with his first two producing mixed results. However, when Engram returned from injury last season, he was limited to about 60% of offensive snaps. Despite the limitations, Engram had the four biggest games of his career after Odell Beckham Jr. went down with an injury for the last four games of the season. His 320 yards over the final four games were the second-highest by all tight ends and 10th highest among all eligible receivers.
With an upgraded offensive line and a lack of established targets, head coach Pat Shurmur should prioritize Engram in the passing game. If he remains healthy, look for Evan Engram to have as good of a stretch, if not better, than he had during the 2018 season. Considered one of the best young players on the Giants’ roster, Engram still has much to prove. This is the perfect opportunity for the former first-round pick to live up to expectations while salvaging the Giants offense in the meantime.
‘Next Man Up’ mentality will lead to a breakout star
In professional sports, sometimes it takes a single opportunity to show you have what it takes to be a star. Just look at divisional rival quarterback Dak Prescott. He was a third-string quarterback who was able to showcase his talent when both the quarterbacks ahead of him went down with injuries. Kurt Warner, a Hall of Fame QB, was UNDRAFTED, yet was able to shine when given the opportunity, leading to a Super Bowl win and an MVP title in his first season as a full-time starter.
The wide receivers remaining know this is their best chance to prove they belong in the NFL. Russell Shepard, the wide receiver who will be on the top of the depth chart if Sterling Shepard is unable to play, stated he wants to “make this a Cinderella story”. Everyone in the organization is hoping for just that.
Big Blue was already expected to be one of the worst teams in the league this season. Controversial trades, concerning draft selections (okay, maybe just one concerning selection), and a divided fanbase has not helped their cause. With all the concerns on the roster, the front office believes wide receivers is not one of them. While the rest of the world may disagree, the New York Giants believe their wide receivers stand a chance.