New York Giants: Could Evan Engram Total 1,000 Yards In Jason Garrett’s Offense?

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants made a splash hiring on their coaching staff this offseason, hiring former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as their offensive coordinator. Garrett spent ten years as the head coach of the Cowboys. The Cowboys had a top offense in the league nearly every season with Jason Garrett running the show.

One of the key components to Jason Garrett’s offense is the emphasis on the tight end position. Garrett was fortunate enough to have Jason Witten as his tight end in Dallas for all those years and the two collaborated on some of the best seasons by a tight end in NFL history. In 2012, Jason Witten received a career-high 147 targets in Garrett’s offense. 2012 was the last season that Garrett called plays for Dallas.

Calling plays for the Giants in 2020, could Jason Garrett feature Evan Engram in such a prominent role?

Jason Garrett and The Tight End Position

Witten, as the long-time tight end of the Cowboys, received 80 or more targets every year he played under Garrett, including multiple 120+ target seasons.

Between the ages of 25 and 31, Jason Witten was targeted in the Cowboys offense an average of 127 times a year–and that was despite their having a legitimate No. 1 receiver and a top rushing attack. – Gene Clemons of Giants County

Jason Witten had four 1,000 yard seasons in his career with the Cowboys. In each of those seasons, he received a total of targets greater than 120. Evan Engram will inevitably see his role expand with Garrett in town, and could see over 120 targets. But is he ready for an expanded role?

New York Giants: Kaden Smith Has Breakout Potential In 2020

New York Giants, Kaden Smith

The New York Giants will likely run a lot more twelve-personnel in 2020. With the recent hiring of Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator, the team’s offense is set to emphasize a heavy usage of the tight end position.

Luckily for the Giants, they have just the personnel to run two-tight end sets. The Gmen have two capable tight ends on their roster: Evan Engram and Kaden Smith. Engram is an explosive, versatile receiving threat who can be a matchup-nightmare at the tight end position. Kaden Smith is quite the opposite, however, his playstyle might be even more fitting to the Giants’ new offensive scheme.

Kaden Smith Stats and Highlights

Kaden Smith is a solid, reliable tight end. He is not the fastest guy nor the best route runner, but he has dependable hands and good run-blocking skills. Jason Garret utilizes a run-heavy offensive scheme that leans on the tight ends to make key blocks. Evan Engram has struggled as a run-blocker in his career, but Kaden Smith might flourish in this role.

Kaden Smith, the undrafted rookie out of Standford, is an excellent blocker from the tight end position. He did a superb job as a lead blocker once he was put into the starting lineup in Week 12. Take this block against the Washington Redskins as a perfect example:

Jason Garrett is a bright offensive mind and he will carve out a defined role for Evan Engram in 2020. This role will maximize his athleticism and receiving talents. But a role will also be carved out for Kaden Smith as he enters his second season. Throughout Garrett’s time in Dallas, he coached one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the sport: Jason Witten.

Witten was never an extraordinary athlete or explosive route runner. But he was always a dependable receiver with a high football IQ that allowed him to find soft spots in defenses and get open. Witten was also an excellent run-blocker. This is similar to Kaden Smith’s playing style. He could fit that Witten role in Garrett’s offense with the Giants.

In his 5 games as a starter in 2019, Kaden Smith caught 22 of his 30 targets (73% catch rate) for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was one of the most dependable receivers on the field for the Giants. Likely receiving an expanded role in 2020, Kaden Smith could have a breakout season in store for the Giants.

Be sure to check out our Kaden Smith highlight video on YouTube here:

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New York Giants: Jason Witten In Play For Tight Ends Coach?

The New York Giants are continuing to fill out their coaching staff this week. The team’s new head coach has already hired his three main coordinators. New York is retaining Thomas McGaughey as special teams coordinator. Patrick Graham will be the team’s defensive coordinator in 2020 after holding that same position with the Miami Dolphins in 2019. However, the Giants’ most interesting hire came at offensive coordinator.

Jason Garrett, former Dallas Cowboys head coach, has agreed to join Joe Judge’s staff as the Giants’ offensive coordinator. Garrett was an offensive coordinator for the Cowboys before being promoted to head coach in 2011. The Cowboys had numerous top-ten offenses under Garrett as both head coach and coordinator.

Many have speculated that Garrett will be bringing some colleagues to New York with him. Bill Callahan is someone the Giants are considering for their vacant offensive line coach position. Now, a new and utterly unexpected name has entered the discussions. Chris Mortensen of ESPN has reported that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is considering reuniting with Jason Garret in New York.

A Player Or A Coach?

Mortenson’s report includes the critical detail that Jason Witten “hasn’t ruled out” playing next year. It is possible that Witten’s reunion with Garret would be as a player. However, the Giants have a couple of tight ends on the roster that they are excited about.

Evan Engram and Kaden Smith have both shown flashes of great potential. Engram’s only knock is his injury problems, missing 5 games in 2018 and 8 games in 2019. But his explosive receiving ability is bound to keep him around.

Kaden Smith was an unknown name heading into 2019 but quietly made his presence known by season’s end. Smith started in 6 games for the Giants and caught 31 passes for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns. Smith is also a great run-blocker, though, he does not possess Engram’s athletic prowess.

With two talented tight ends already on the roster, it is hard to see where Jason Witten could fit into the equation as a player. However, a coaching role might make much sense for the veteran tight end.

Mike McCarthy, the Dallas Cowboys’ newly hired head coach, had “no on-field coaching spot” on his staff for Jason Witten (Mortenson). This report indicates that Witten was initially looking for a coaching job, but is open to playing if he cannot find one. Witten’s familiarity with Garrett and the Giants’ talented but young tight ends group could make Jason Witten a good fit as New York’s tight ends coach.

Jason Witten is a 37-year-old tight end that has already retired once. He came out of retirement for one last go with the Cowboys this past season, but the team seems ready to move on. Witten’s time in the broadcast booth was not much of a smashing success either. Maybe coaching is the best possible option for the future Hall of Fame candidate.

The New York Giants Must Shut Down Their Old Kryptonite In Week One

The New York Giants will face off against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. The highly-anticipated matchup should be a great game to kickoff the 2019 season. The Giants and Cowboys have a historic rivalry with multiple classic games.

However, there is also a plethora of awful games in the long storied rivalry. Each team has dealth with their fair share of blowout losses and even close heartbreakers. For the Giants, many of those painful losses have been handed to them by one man.

Jason Witten has hand-delivered losses to the Giants throughout his career. Last year, Witten retired from the NFL and joined ESPN to be in the broadcast booth on Monday nights. This was a huge win for the Giants fans as they would not have to watch their team incompetently blow a game due to their lack of ability to cover old man Witten.

Now, one year later, he’s back. Witten unretired this offseason and rejoined the Dallas Cowboys. Giants fans will once again have to worry about their team forgetting how to cover a tight end in AT&T Stadium.

How Deadly Has Witten Been Against The Giants?

Jason Witten is not exactly a stat-sheet stuffer, but he always seems to show up in the clutch against the Giants. In 2017, at 35 years old, the Giants still allowed Witten to score a touchdown in each of the contests on the season. The Giants were blown out in each of them.

In 2016, the Giants swept the Cowboys, beating them in both matchups. Witten went without a touchdown in both games. In 2015, Witten scored the game-winning touchdown (his second touchdown of the game) in the final seconds of the game during the first matchup of the season. But in the second matchup of the season, the Giants emerged victorious after holding Witten scoreless.

There seems to be a correlation between Witten scoring touchdowns and the Giants losing games. Witten is now 37 years old and is still a chain-mover for Dallas. New York needs to shut him down in order to win in week one.

How To Shut Down Jason Witten And Why The Giants Might Struggle

One thing that the Giants seriously lack is a solid coverage linebacker. Alec Ogletree was spotted missing assignments in coverage multiple times last year. He struggled in coverage against running backs like Tarik Cohen and also against tight ends like George Kittle.

This is where the Giants’ new safety comes into play. Jabrill Peppers, a former Cleveland Brown acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, will need to shut down Jason Witten. Peppers is a Swiss Army Knife on defense. He can defend the run, play in coverage, and even occasionally rush the passer.

Against the Dallas Cowboys, Jabrill Peppers needs to prove that he is an upgrade in coverage over Landon Collins. The Giants let Collins walk in free agency, despite him being one of the best run-defending safeties in the NFL. However, Peppers is a better defender against the pass.

According to Pro Football Focus, Peppers had a solid coverage grade of 77.3 in 2018, a 15.6 point improvement from his 2017 rookie season. Additionally, Peppers recorded an even higher coverage grade of 87.2 (third best in the NFL) when the Browns were in man coverage.

Jabrill Peppers’s ability to play man coverage is the Giants’ key to shutting down Jason Witten. Peppers will need to stick with Jason Witten and take away the Cowboys’ safety blanket on offense. If Peppers can stop Witten, the Giants’ chance of winning this game increase tremendously.