Destined For Dallas
Birds TE Should Be Top Target
If the Eagles are to emerge from a crowded NFC playoff picture, they need to establish a rhythm in the passing game that complements their top-ranked, versatile rushing attack.
The late-season offensive blueprint could closely resemble the one that yielded 262 total yards and 24 points in a commanding first half against the Jets two Sundays ago at MetLife Stadium.
Running backs Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell combined for 65 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries by the break, while quarterback Gardner Minshew rolled up 188 passing yards, a pair of touchdown tosses, and a perfect quarterback rating.
The standout, however, was tight end Dallas Goedert, who reeled in all five receptions for 98 yards and both Minshew touchdown passes. Goedert, whose production has been inconsistent at best throughout the season, turned in a timely rebound following game against the Giants in which he had managed just one reception for zero yards.
Minshew, making his first start in nearly a year in place of an injured Jalen Hurts, developed an immediate rapport with his big-bodied tight end, despite limited practice reps throughout the season.
Preparation and opportunity finally aligned for Goedert, who served as a safety valve for Minshew on his way to a career-high 105 receiving yards.
“Just the way they play their defense, we kind of knew what to expect,” Goedert said. “We had some good calls against good defenses, and we just took advantage. I just told Gardner, ‘When you’re in doubt, just throw it up to me and I’ll go get it.’ And he did that a few times. But it was a play call, and he was just trying to find me. Anytime I can catch the ball, I feel like it puts us in a good position.”
Although Minshew didn’t have an opportunity to establish timing and continuity with Goedert in training camp or during the season, the third-year quarterback crammed in as many reps as he could in the days leading up to the game.
“You know, [Gardner’s] in the meetings the whole time,” Goedert said. “He sees how everybody runs their routes on film. He’s out there with us at practice, so he’s seen it all along.
“It’s just a credit to him that he was able to pick a target, throw it to it, and hit it accurately. But we did some stuff on the side, in between periods, different things to just try to get our level of connection up.”
While it’s not yet known who’ll be starting at quarterback against Washington on Sunday at the Linc, the Jets game served as a helpful reminder of just how dominant Goedert can be, and the mismatches he presents when heavily integrated into the game plan.
At 6-foot-5, 256 pounds, Goedert is a welcoming target. The South Dakota State product fits the description of the modern NFL receiving weapon – a big-bodied target with size, speed, and versatility.
He’s too fast and explosive for linebackers or safeties to stick in coverage, and too physical for cornerbacks to contain.
The Eagles, who sport a largely undersized contingent of pass-catchers, must involve Goedert more in the red zone, over the middle, and in contested-catch situations down the stretch for defenses to respect that dimension of their offense.
Goedert also hurts defenses when he’s running free across the middle, and his athleticism and physicality can help turn short and intermediate catches into bigger gains. His 14.5-yards-per-catch average is second on the team only to shot-play specialist Quez Watkins.
Against a decimated Washington Football Team in a pivotal divisional matchup, the Eagles must revert to the blueprint that unlocked a stationary offense and established an identity.
The Eagles should be able to breeze through an undermanned Washington defensive front, setting up play-action opportunities for Goedert, who needs to undertake a more amplified role, even when defenses attempt to curb his impact.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.