Despite hopes that things might improve this season, it looks like the cycle is continuing for New York Giants tight end Evan Engram. Each season it’s looking more like a change of scenery would benefit both the player and the team, and that idea is backed up by the outcome in Engram’s 2021 season debut.
The performance saw Engram record 2 receptions after coming back from injury, but it was spoiled by a fumble that quickly reignited complaints about Dave Gettleman’s decision to keep the tight end rather than trading him.
This negative reception showed up both online and at MetLife Stadium itself – Engram found himself becoming the target of boos, and it went as far as the fans cheering when he was substituted off the field.
Even with the increase in negativity, Engram has kept a cool head about the situation.
Evan Engram responds to being cheered off field
“Obviously, it’s not ideal and it’s something you don’t want to see or hear. But, that’s my focus – is playing better football for my teammates and my team and giving the fans and our supporters something to cheer about and something to be proud about on the field,” Engram said about the treatment from the fans.
At this point, it’s debatable whether the relationship between Engram and the fans will ever be a good one. Whether because of an injury history that has often kept him off the field, or because of drops and being involved in turnovers, a large part of the fanbase has written Engram off as a disappointment by now.
The remaining question is whether or not the front office and coaching staff will also come to see Engram as a disappointment compared to his draft position and expected role.
Engram, like Saquon Barkley, has proven himself to be a boom or bust player. He’s capable of putting up good numbers, such as in his rookie season when he scored six touchdowns or last season when he made the Pro Bowl with 654 receiving yards on 63 receptions.
But when he runs into problems, they tend to be bad. He only played 8 games in 2019 due to injury and missed the first two games of this season with a calf injury. Last season, Engram dropping a key pass from Daniel Jones played a massive part in the Giants losing to the Eagles – a loss that would come back to haunt the team after they narrowly missed out on the division title.
The Giants have tried making the Evan Engram experiment work for four full seasons. By now, they may be served better by tight ends with a lower ceiling who perform more consistently. There’s a strong argument that Engram fits better as a luxury player on a contending team, where the margins are often less tight and his problems would be less visible.
But whether the Giants do make the decision to trade Engram before the deadline or not, something that might not materialize simply because Engram’s trade value is significantly lower than it would have been a couple of seasons ago, it appears the tight end is still focused on his game first and foremost.
“I’ve been playing football for a long time. I’ve played in front of a lot of fans for a good amount of time. We’re trained to stay focused in between the lines. That’s the best way I tried to handle that yesterday was to stay in between the lines and stay in the game,” Engram told reporters.
Keeping that focus will likely get more challenging if there’s not a large step up on Engram’s part.