New York Giants: How Daniel Jones has elevated the play of his top two pass catchers

New York Giants, Evan Engram
Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) gains yards after catch during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After the preseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Redskins matchups, it’s clear that New York Giants rookie passer Daniel Jones is one thing, he is an athlete.

He can extend plays, utilize his arm strength, and run the ball. Because of all of these factors, he will elevate the quality of the players around him, especially tight end Evan Engram and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. What Daniel Jones brings to the Giants is the option to run the RPO offense.

Why the New York Giants can succeed by using this idea:

A lot of teams in the NFL fail when it comes to the RPO offense solely because their quarterback is not a good enough passer, or he is not a good enough runner. What Jones has shown so far is that he can execute both and will thus, make his receivers around him better.

This type of offense, when executed by a quarterback like Jones, will make the linebackers bite. They will be scared that he will take the ball and run as he did multiple times against Tampa Bay and Washington. It will make the linebackers take a step forward when they should be taking one back.

Football is a game of inches, and with the speed of Engram and Shepard a simple step in the wrong direction could open up the field for these two receivers to make a play. Engram and Shepard need the ball in space, and when they are gifted with that opportunity, anything can happen.

When defenses are in man coverage instead of zone, the ability of Jones to maneuver around the pocket gives Engram and Shepard an extra second or two to beat their man, an essential factor that has led to the rookie throwing for 561 yards in his first two NFL starts.

An RPO play was called on Engram’s 75-yard touchdown against the Bucs, allowing the offense to open up and put the pass-catching tight end in man-coverage. There is nothing special about this play. Jones faked a handoff and only threw the ball 12 yards to Engram. But the magic of this play is when the linebacker bit on the run, allowing Jones to throw the ball right over his head and lead Engram to run 75 yards and score.

According to Next Gen Stats, Engram is the only tight end in the NFL to have three-plus plays where his speed reached 20.8 MPH. There are only a few linebackers in this league that can cover Engram, and when one can’t, they need to be exposed by this new offense.

It has only been two regular-season games for Jones so far, but football is a game of inches and any inch that Jones can get his receivers will make increase their productivity and efficiency. This was shown by Shepard and Engram both having 100-yard games in week three. As the Giants look forward on this season, they need to use Jones’ athletic ability as much as they can so that this offense can be a top tier unit.

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