New York Giants: Sterling Shepard an underutilized red-zone weapon

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have completely overhauled their red-zone offense this offseason. In 2020, the Giants had the second-worst ranked offense in the NFL. New York averaged only 17.5 points per game last season, a truly putrid number.

One of the reasons why the Giants struggled so badly to put points up on the scoreboard was their inefficiency in the red zone. Their red zone scoring percentage ranked 31st in the league in 2020 at 46.34%. Time and time again, the Giants got into scoring range and failed to convert. NFL teams will not find great success without a competent red zone offense.

When the Giants did convert in the red zone last season, more often than not it was thanks to one receiver: Sterling Shepard. Many think of Shepard as a scrappy slot receiver that runs exquisite routes in the intermediate range of the line of scrimmage. But Sterling Shepard is actually a tremendous, yet underutilized red-zone weapon, too.

Sterling Shepard red zone stats

One big criticism of the Giants’ offensive personnel last season was the lack of a dependable red zone threat. The signings of Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph obviously change that narrative. The Giants now have two big-time red-zone threats in Golladay and Rudolph. But don’t sleep on Sterling Shepard as a viable option in scoring range.

Sterling Shepard was as reliable in the red zone as he possibly could have been in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus’s 2021 QB Annual, Daniel Jones’s top red-zone receiver by far was Sterling Shepard. Check out how purely efficient Shep was in the red zone in 2020:

  • 9/9 (100% completion), 3 Touchdowns, 56% First down conversion

Every time Daniel Jones targeted Sterling Shepard in the red zone last season, it resulted in a completion. Daniel Jones only threw 11 touchdowns in 2020. Three of those eleven scores (27%) went to Shepard in the red zone. All three of Sterling Shepard’s touchdown receptions in 2020 were scored in the red zone.

The Giants’ red zone offense will improve drastically in 2021. Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph give Daniel Jones two big-bodied receivers that excel in making contested catches. Sterling Shepard gives his quarterback reliable route running and high IQ that allows him to expose the soft spot in the defense and capitalize with points on the board. The New York Giants’ offense will get a lot more points on the board this season with this new and improved group of playmakers.

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