New York Giants get huge offensive boost against Chicago Bears

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have battled injuries on both sides of the ball this season, with essential players missing ample time with individual ailments. Rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly suffered a torn ACL in week four against the Washington Redskins in the waning moments, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard has suffered two concussions this season, forcing him out for multiple games.

While Connelly is out for the remainder of the year, Shepard has teased the injury report numerous times with full-participation statuses, despite not making it to the active roster on game-day. However, the BYE week did the Giants’ top receiver well, giving him enough time to heal correctly from concussion symptoms and practice fully for the entire week.

Shepard will finally be activated against the Bears, giving the Giants their best pass-catcher back and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones an essential weapon. Shepard’s return doesn’t come without bad news, though, as starting right end Evan Engram will miss Sunday’s game, along with backup, Rhett Ellison.

Engram’s inability to remain healthy has plagued his career, as he’s already missed time this season. A mid-foot sprain is the latest culprit, suffered in week ten against the Jets. Engram did state he was ahead of schedule in his 2-4 week timetable for return, but he did not practice this week.

In his absence, Scott Simonson, who was recently re-signed to the team, will get the start. Simonson suffered an ugly ankle sprain during the pre-season, which justified his release from the Giants, but the slew of injuries at the position gave them a reason to bring him back.

Having already been familiar with the offense, Simonson should slot right in as the primary tight end. He’s a capable blocker and pass-catcher.

The New York Giants need Daniel Jones to build a rapport with Sterling Shepard:

Shepard and Jones haven’t spent much time together on the field. In his three games active with Jones under center, he has recorded 195 yards and one score on a 70.4% catch-success rate (pro-football-reference). His chemistry with Jones is essential for the Giants’ offense to operate at a high level, especially considering Shepard’s ability to create separation, something the wide receivers have struggled with this season.

Getting him on the field and catching passes from Jones will only benefit the offense in the long-run.

New York Giants news, 11/24 – 3 keys to beating the Chicago Bears

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

Overcoming the Chicago Bears will be a challenge for the New York Giants, especially considering their inability to beat teams like the Jets, who were arguably worse before week 10. The Jets were coming off a disappointing loss to the winless Miami Dolphins, and the Giants were expected to perform better than they subsequently did.

The Bears represent a far more significant challenge, despite quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s struggles this season.

Here are the three keys to beating the Bears in week 12:

1.) The offensive line

The front five for the Giants has been decimated with poor play the past few weeks, and against the Jets, they were without center Jon Halapio, right tackle Mike Remmers, and left tackle Nate Solder left the game early with a concussion. This week, they will gain back both tackles, which should open up the door for a better run game and more time for Daniel Jones in the pocket. However, even when the line was healthy, they were still playing poorly.

Khalil Mack will line up opposite the Giants offensive line this Sunday, which will be bad news for Jones. They must step up and show they can play as a cohesive unit for the sake of their rookie quarterback.

2.) The pass-rushers

Only Markus Golden has shown any support in the pass-rushing department, as he’s logged 6.5 sacks and 15 QB hits this season. Putting Trubisky under pressure is a priority, so we should expect an array of blitzes from defensive coordinator James Bettcher. However, the outside linebacker must come to play against Chicago, or their offense will find its rhythm, similar to the Minnesota Vikings, who were stalling before pummeling the Giants defense.

3.) The tight ends

With Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison both scheduled to miss week 12, the Giants were forced to bring back Scott Simonson, who was cut after suffering a high ankle sprain during preseason.

Simonson is a capable blocker and pass-catcher, but he doesn’t have the elite speed Engram does to open up the middle of the field. We can expect him to garner a good percentage of offensive snaps and play a significant role in the run game, but his average skill-set will be the most he has to offer. I expect the Giants to work around him and focus on both Sterling Shepard, who’s returning from concussions symptoms, and Golden Tate.

Nonetheless–

Your top news of the day:

Paul Schwartz – Why Giants aren’t pushing the DeAndre Baker panic button

Anthony Rivardo – New York Giants: Can Darius Slayton Develop Into A No. 1 Receiver?

Matt Lombardo – Golden Tate creating explosiveness in new ways for Odell Beckam-less Giants
Mike Lupica – It’s just wrong for the Giants to be this bad for this long
Matt Citak – Giants vs. Bears Preview: 10 Things to Watch

New York Giants: Evan Engram could miss weeks with newest injury

New York Giants, Evan Engram

When New York Giants tight end Evan Engram left a week 10 matchup against the Jets, it was thought that he just tweaked his foot, but a mid-foot sprain was revealed after the game concluded.

Engram has been a force on offense, when active, but injuries continue to plague his career, forcing the offense to adapt and rely on options like Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson, who was recently re-signed.

Through three seasons, Engram has not played in all 16 games, in fact, he has missed a total of 15 games since his inception in the league. That’s nearly an entire year’s worth of games the Giants have had to compensate for.

The New York Giants will likely be without their top tight end:

With Big Blue preparing to face off against the Chicago Bears on Sunday in week 12, the expectation is that Engram will miss the contest after failing to practice on Wednesday morning. The recovery time for the sprain was a scheduled 2-4 weeks, but Engram stated he was ahead of schedule to return earlier in the week. That statement has yet to come to fruition, and having the BYE week should have given him ample time to heal.

“[A return] this week, towards the end of this week, that’s the plan. Just keep building on that,” Engram said. “It’s definitely possible, I feel good. We’ll see where we’re at (in the) middle to the end of this week. I’m staying locked in in meetings, game plans and stuff like that, that’s very important as well. I think as long as I stay prepared mentally and continue to do what I do with my foot, I could be ready to go.”

If the pass-catching tight end is unable to go on Sunday, Ellison will get the start in his place. It will also indicate that Engram could miss more time than previously anticipated. With the Giants sitting at 2-8 on the season, there is no rush for Engram to return. Ensuring he’s 100% healthy should be the priority.

New York Giants: Eli Manning Needs To Take More Risks

The New York Giants desperately need the old Eli Manning to take over the imposter who wears #10 for the Giants. The quarterback who would frustrate fans by forcing balls down the field, but also energize his team by taking risks to generate big plays down the field. They need the quarterback who took risks, hung in the pocket and let his receivers make plays down the field. The organization needs that guy back for them to salvage this season.

Eli has become too conservative. He reads the field looking for the safe throw first before looking at his deep read. The defense is going to be poor all year, he has to take shots for the Giants to compete in 2019. Last season, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers all had a higher INT % than Eli Manning.

There has been a lot of scrutiny on the strength of Eli’s arm, but what good is it to have a healthy arm if you aren’t going to use it? On Sunday against the Cowboys, Eli attempted a deep pass (20+ yards down the field) on only 6.8% of his dropbacks, according to Profootballfocus metrics.

After rewatching every non-screen pass play called through the first three quarters, it became evident Eli left a lot of opportunities out there for the Giants. Let’s dive into the film.

Film Review

Q2 8:38 – 3rd and 12

The Giants struggled to convert third downs all game, converting only two out of eleven third-down opportunities. Midway through the second quarter, the Giants faced a third and 12 from their own 33. Dallas left the deep middle of the field exposed, if Eli holds the ball a half-second longer, he has the time to hit Russell Sheppard on a deep crossing route. Instead, he opts to check down to Ellison and the Giants punt.

Q2 1:13 – 1st and 10

The two-minute drill was unwatchable. The Giants gained 31 yards in the 1:04 they had the ball. The Cowboys played cover 3 on this play, which should have been advantageous to the Giants given they ran a flat curl combination to Eli’s left. The cornerback in the slot to Eli’s left should be Eli’s first read to dictate where he wants to go with the ball. As soon as the slot corner sprints to the flat, Eli knows he’ll have the curl route, which he did. Instead, the ball comes out quickly over the middle for a short gain.

Q2 0:54 – 2nd and 4

The Giants dial up the perfect play design against the Cowboys covers 2 defense. To Eli’s right, Engram sprints to the flat to occupy the corner, giving Sheppard room to make a play over top between the corner and the safety. This should have been Eli’s first read, but once again he gets rid of the ball too quickly and doesn’t take advantage of what the coverage is giving him.

Q2 0:30 – 1st and 10

This was one of Eli’s most egregious misses. He completes an accurate ball to Latimer on the sideline but misses a great opportunity to hit Engram up the seam matched against a linebacker. It’s possible he was spooked by the safety in the middle of the field, but given how much time was left in the half and where the Giants were on the field, this was a risk worth taking.

Q3 11:12 – 2nd and 9

On this play-action rollout to Eli’s right, it takes him too long to come off his first few reads along the sideline. If he had looked up, he would have seen a wide-open Rhett Ellison in the back of the end zone. These kind of misses are inexcusable.

Q3 8:39 – 2nd and 3

First, let’s give the Giants credit for actually sending Barkley on a wheel route and trying to free him up with a pick play. Eli has a fairly clean pocket to throw from, but seems to panic and get rid of the ball too early before Barkley was expecting it. If he tries to hit Barkley in stride further down the sideline, this is likely a touchdown.

Conclusion

The Giants desperately need Eli to elevate the offense. 2011 Eli wouldn’t have won Sunday against the Cowboys, but 2011 Eli can carry this team to a wild card birth. The offensive line looks strong, he finally has as running game and a few weapons among his receivers and tight ends. If Eli forces a pick downfield next Sunday you will hear a lot of groans from the fans in the stands, but that could also be a signal that Eli is back and ready to elevate this offense one last time.

New York Giants: Evan Engram Growing Confidence In His Blocking Abilities

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants have a new offense in 2019. They made a serious change in their receiving corps trading away superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and replacing him with veteran slot machine Golden Tate. They also rebuilt the offensive line and drafted their next franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones.

One offensive position that has remained constant in the 2019 offseason is tight end. The Giants will be starting Evan Engram at tight end as he enters his third season. The young versatile playmaker has had an up and down career thus far. When Engram is on the field, he is one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL.

Evan Engram Is A True Receiving Threat

Unfortunately, Evan Engram has yet to play a full sixteen game season. He was mostly healthy his rookie season and went on to total a monstrous 722 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games. This was Engram demonstrating his true potential. But his sophomore season featured more injuries and missed games.

Engram dealt with a plethora of injuries causing him to miss five games. He still posted respectable stats, 577 yards and 45 receptions with 3 touchdowns, but he needs to stay healthy. Aside from his health, there is one other area that Evan Engram can work on, and apparently he has been.

Evan Engram Improving As A Blocker

Evan Engram has not been a great blocker so far during his time in the NFL. There has been multiple occasions where Engram has gotten no push in the run game and allowed the Giants’ running back to get tackled in the backfield. Take this clip as a perfect example:

The Giants were aware that Evan could be a liability as a run-blocker, which is why they employ Rhett Ellison, a premier run-blocking tight end. According to Evan Engram, his run-blocking has improved, and in great part because of his teammate Ellison.

Here is what Evan Engram had to say about his improved blocking:

“I was talking with one of my family members about how my blocking game has evolved playing with Rhett,” Engram explained. “Watching him each and every day, and working alongside him, it’s added a lot to my plate in the blocking game. With the steps, it’s the small details. I’ve always kind of had the punch, I’ve always had the heart to get in there and fight, but it’s been a lot of details. I really feel like I’ve taken my game to another level in that aspect, just through the coaching and playing with the guys.” – Evan Engram, via SNY TV

If what Evan Engram says is true, this will be key for the Giants’ offense in 2019. The Giants are shifting towards a run-first offense behind Saquon Barkley this year. It will be crucial for New York to put out capable blockers at every position possible this season.

We have not been able to get a glimpse of Engram’s new and improved run-blocking abilities, because he has sat out of both preseason games. It is likely he will not play in the presason this year to avoid injury risks, but we will get to see Engram week one of the regular season.

Evan Engram can set himself as one of the best tight ends in the NFL this season. He will need to stay healthy and prove that he did improve as a run blocker. If Engram can do this and sustain the production levels he has put out the past two seasons, Evan will cement himself as one of the best tight ends in the league.

New York Giants: CJ Conrad can’t stop impressing

New York Giants, CJ Conrad

The negativity surrounding the New York Giants wide receiver corps has cast a dark shadow over the team during training camp. However, there’s plenty of positivity to go around — one player that is taking advantage of this opportunity is CJ Conrad from Kentucky. The rookie tight end took first-team offensive reps on Friday and hauled in an impressive catch from Eli Manning.

While he did drop one or two passes from Daniel Jones, he did finish strong connecting with Kyle Lauletta on a pair of touchdowns.

With Evan Engram returning after struggling with a hamstring issue, the tight end group is full of talent and potential. They currently have Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, and CJ Conrad.

I anticipate Conrad eventually emerging as the number one option given his dual capabilities as a blocker and pass catcher. While on Kentucky, he was a trusted option in the passing game but also influenced the run game as well.

“He’s a tough, competitive guy, and I think those are necessary traits to play our game,” said head coach Pat Shurmur before Saturday’s afternoon workout. “So that’s where you start. He’s a good learner. I would say he’s a notch better blocker than he is a route-runner at this time, which is a good thing. He’s becoming a little bit of a fan favorite out there. He’s made some nice catches in practice. But then he’s also made his mistakes. I like the way he competes, and I think he’s a tough guy. I think he has a bright future.”

The New York Giants should expect a learning curve with CJ Conrad:

Of course, Conrad will endure struggles while he develops. His rookie season will be full of mental mistakes, but the potential he’s shown so far proves that he can be an influential player down the road. As a primary blocker, he can help right away in the run game. Imagine the Giants will still utilize Ellison as the primary blocker in that facet of the offense, but Conrad is a quality back up.

His grit and hustle make up for his lack of quality at the moment, but that is a good thing as he has plenty of time to grow and show that he’s capable of being a starting-caliber player.

My concern, though, is that the Giants will be carrying four tight ends if they elect to keep Conrad on the final 53 man roster, and that seems like a waste of a roster allocation. However, letting a player of his potential go is inadvisable.

New York Giants: Tight end unit may take an interesting turn this offseason

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants have plenty of talent at the tight end position, so much so, they’re likely to cut at least one player to address other positions of need.

Having Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, and rookie CJ Conrad at tight end is rather unnecessary. All of them serve a different purpose, while Conrad is the only true dual-threat (potentially). Ellison is capable of catching passes and holding value in that sense, but he’s a primary blocker that serves mainly a single purpose.

I’m really intrigued by Conrad and what he has to offer coming out of Kentucky. He’s a big body in the run game and can be an impact player in the passing game — I believe he will steal starting time away from Ellison and Simonson.

Ellison is my cut candidate from the group as he holds the biggest cap hit and is seemingly becoming less of a necessity as the Giants add youth to the position. Counting $5.75 million against the cap, Rhett also has a $2.5 million dead cap hit, so the team would save $2.75 million if they cut him, a nice chunk of change that could make a difference at a weaker spot.

How will the tight ends factor in for the New York Giants offense?

Engram, a primary receiver, will be a frequent flyer on the offense as per usual. His consistent injuries pose a problem and I’m convinced he will miss more time during the season as he’s currently dealing with a hamstring issue. His injuries will give options like Simonson and Conrad more time to develop and play with the first team.

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Again, I see Conrad making an impact this season after earning 318 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2018. He was Kentucky’s primary threat through the air but opposing defenses allocated a ton of resources towards limiting his production. He was one of two players to earn reps with the first team this offseason, Darius Slayton being the other.

The Giants could use a good amount of two tight-end sets this season, as head coach Pat Shurmur will look to cause confusion in the defensive secondary and unpredictability with receivers out of the slot. It will be interesting to see how the offense operates without Odell Beckham Jr.

New York Giants News, 6/27 – CJ Conrad can surprise us all

New York Giants, CJ Conrad

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

If there’s any player capable of surprising us all, it’s Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad. The undrafted player was unable to participate at the combine due to a heart ailment that was previously undiagnosed. However, he passed physical tests and is able to play at the NFL level.

The Giants might have secured a steal with the versatile tight end, given his size and speed off the line of scrimmage. He was one of two players, the other being Darius Slayton, to earn first-team reps during mini-camp OTAs.

While his size is certainly exciting, it’s his offensive capabilities that have been excited. He was one of Kentucky’s top targets in 2018, hauling in 30 passes for 318 yards and three scores. He has the skill-set to be a fantastic red-zone target and potentially steal playing time away from Scott Simonson. He could also prove to be the catalyst in the cutting of Rhett Ellison if he continues to show improvement this offseason.

Conrad is a player to keep your eye on as he’s a very talented athlete with plenty of potential. I would love to see him earn playing time in 2019 and showcase his abilities with the first team. Eli Manning could use a tight end that can do it all, it’s been awhile.

Nonetheless–

Your Giants top news of the day!

Dan Benton (Giants Wire) – Giants have found stability, are on the upswing

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Dan Schneier (247 Sports) – Contrary to popular belief, analytics has shaped the 2019 Giants

Matt Lombardo (NJ.com) – Giants WRs insist ‘vibe’ hasn’t changed without Odell Beckham Jr.

Check out the best news from yesterday!

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New York Giants: Tight End Rhett Ellison Talks Receiving Skills

New York Giants, Rhett Ellison

The New York Giants could sure use all the receivers they can get this season following the highly publicized departure of Odell Beckham Jr., a move that will likely be remembered in history and will have some controversy around it for years to come barring an immediate turnaround by the Giants in 2019. In fact, the move is still being talked about. The team isn’t without talent just because of the trade, however.

Aside from bringing in Golden Tate and drafting Darius Slayton for help, the Giants can say that they already have some alternate options in the receiving game… One of those happens to be tight end Rhett Ellisson, one of the last players that most would consider when receiving is brought up. However, Ellison has been undeniably reliable and even beat out the much hyped Evan Engram at times for playing time in 2018.

The latter is surprising, of course, but makes some sense when you consider the context of Ellison having less drops than any other player on the Giants while Engram struggled with both injury and with holding onto the ball, the second problem being one that also plagued him during his rookie season – leading fans, of course, to believe that Engram would improve in that area in 2018. But there were few improvements for the tight end last season, leading to Engram losing some playing time and Ellison getting more time in the first team.

How did Ellison win that game time last season? Part of it was through being consistent in both the blocking and the receiving parts of the game, and Ellison spoke about that recently with NJ Advance Media.

“Catching the ball, I think some guys put a little too much emphasis on it. I put more of the focus on the blocking so the catch is more of a reward. Like, ‘Oh, I get a ball coming my way? This is great.’ React like a dog in the park,” Ellison said about receiving.

That focus on blocking may also be part of the explanation for Ellison’s increased playing time during the second half of last year. Engram is a pick of the former front office regime, and under Dave Gettleman, the Giants moved to a more running based style with the addition of Saquon Barkley. It adds more value to players that add something to the blocking game.

“I’m not putting that pressure on myself: It’s a mental thing for sure. But also I’m getting under routes. I’m not getting deep balls over the shoulder, the complicated catch,” Ellison added about the subject of making catches. “They are across the middle and there is traffic, but focusing on blocking has somehow helped. The hard stuff is the blocking, in my mind.”

It remains to be seen what the split of playing time between the team’s two main tight ends is going to be like this year, but it looks like as long as Evan Engram struggles with making catches, – interestingly enough making him the opposite of Ellison in more than just playing style – the answer to who the first team tight end is might not be as clear cut as we think going into training camp.

New York Giants gained a steal of a tight end in C.J. Conrad

The New York Giants signed Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad as an undrafted free agent.

Some believed that Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad was one of the top seven tight ends in the NFL Draft, expected to be taken in the first five rounds. However, the New York Giants grabbed him as an undrafted free agent later in the process and may have gained a steal at a position where they have plenty of depth.

The Giants feature Evan Engram, a primary pass-catching tight end, Rhett Ellison, a premium blocker, and Scott Simonson, a dual option that can equally block and catch passes. A solid blend of alternatives opens up the offense for quarterback Eli Manning and head coach Pat Shurmur. Ellison and Simonson played integral roles in 2018 helping Saquon Barkley break 2,000 all-purpose yards.

Why did CJ Conrad fall out of the draft?

During the NFL Combine Conrad was diagnosed with a heart ailment during his pre-combine medical examines. This reality hurt his stock significantly, but it didn’t take him out of contention for the NFL and he’s preparing to show why he’s more than capable of success.

Conrad sacrificed plenty of personal gain by playing with a young Wildcats offensive line last season. Although, he caught 30 passes for 318 yards and three scores. He will act as a developmental prospect for the Giants early on in his career, but there’s hope he can blossom into something more. He has a solid frame to aid his growth – 6’4″, 248-pounds.

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How will the New York Giants utilize Conrad?

Being an elite blocker should earn him some minimal playing time to get a sense of where he’s at in terms of production and value on the field as a rookie. With three solid players in line before him, there’s little evidence that points towards playing time, but I imagine Shurmur will want to see all of his rookies play in limited roles at the very least.

In addition to his tangible traits, Conrad is also a leader and positive voice in the locker room. He’s extremely intelligent and will bring that new sense of success-driven culture the Giants are so keen on adopting. An instinctual player with heightened athleticism and a knack for being a good all-around person, the perfect fit for the Giants.