Stoll, Calcaterra Anticipate Bigger Roles With Goedert Sidelined
Seldom drawing media attention, Jack Stoll – the Eagles’ mullet-sporting, customarily-good-natured backup tight end – held court in front of his locker stall Thursday in the wake of Dallas Goedert’s injured forearm.
Known more for his blocking than as a pass-catcher since joining the team ahead of the 2021 season as an undrafted free agent, Stoll typically mires in anonymity most game days, launching himself into defenders and clearing the way for his teammates – the sometimes unappreciated role for a supercharged Eagles offense.
But with Goedert on the mend for at least the next few weeks, the initial limelight shifts its shine to Stoll, who’s primed to undertake a more prominent role until Goedert returns.
“As always, we just kind of view it as, next man up,” Stoll said Thursday. “And we’re gonna do everything we can. Obviously, Dallas is a huge part of our offense. And so, when he goes down, we gotta find ways to make up for it. So, you know, collectively, as a group, we gotta do everything we can to make up for that.”
The collection also includes fellow tight ends Grant Calcaterra and Albert Okwuegbunam.
But while Calcaterra and Okwuegbunam offer greater upside as receivers, both have largely remained non-entities on offense, combining for zero targets across 59 snaps.
Sans Goedert, the only tight end production has come from Stoll, who has accounted for just two receptions for 10 yards on three pass targets.
Scarce as the production has been, though, it hasn’t intimidated Stoll and Calcaterra, who found themselves in a similar position a year ago when Goedert missed five games following a shoulder injury.
Stoll assumed the brunt of the workload, starting all five contests, corralling all seven of his targets for 74 yards. He also averaged nearly 77 percent of the offensive snaps over that span.
Conversely, Calcaterra over that span totaled 41 yards on four receptions (eight targets).
Without Goedert, who had registered 43 receptions for 544 yards and three touchdowns prior to last season’s injury, the mid-range pass offense was glaringly absent.
The security blanket for quarterback Jalen Hurts, who often leaned on Goedert early in games to establishing a rhythm, was a notable omission.
The need for a viable third receiving option became increasingly evident as the Eagles schemed around the injury and conjured different ways to win, including a three-game stretch in which the team compiled 683 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
“I think last year, we schemed it up a little bit differently,” Stoll said. “We went out there, executed everything that we could as a tight end group and I think we played really well.
“I think this year, in my eyes, that means they should hopefully stack a little more responsibility on us and keep growing our roles, even with Dallas out. We’re excited to see whatever happens, and I know we’ll make the most of whatever opportunities we all get.”
While Stoll presumably assumes most of the snaps, Calcaterra – a 2022 sixth-round pick – figures to benefit even more from the uptick.
The second-year tight end, who has cleared concussion protocol after missing the team’s Week 9 divisional win against the Cowboys, offers the speed, soft hands, and route-running ability to maximize his opportunity.
The 25-year-old remains steadfast in showcasing the totality of his game.
“All the way around,” Calcaterra said. “I’ll be out there blocking, running routes and everything. I just hope to put my best foot forward. If the ball comes my way, I’ll be excited. But if not, I’m gonna play my best.”
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Calcaterra, initially viewed as little more than a moderately-framed pass-catcher buried on a superstar offense, alluded to strides he made toward adding dimensions, which includes his recent contributions on special teams and in the run offense.
“Probably just my run-blocking,” Calcaterra said. “I didn’t do a whole lot of it in college, so it was kind of new to me. I’ve tried to focus on that, among other things, and I feel like I’ve gotten better.”
Sure, Stoll, Calcaterra – and perhaps even Okwuegbunam – won’t solely be relied on to fill Goedert’s absence. Expect to see more of a piecemeal approach, which includes some combination of wide receivers Julio Jones and Olamide Zaccheaus – and maybe Quez Watkins, when he returns from injured reserve.
“It’s never just one guy’s responsibility to take all the brunt of that work,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “It will be by committee. We just don’t have another guy like Dallas Goedert sitting around. Have a lot of faith in the guys that have to step up in his absence.”
Playbook wrinkles should be expected to compensate, but for now – at least for Monday night’s game against the Chiefs – the onus presumably falls on Stoll and Calcaterra to coerce a fast-flowing Kansas City Chiefs defense into respecting the Eagles’ short-to-intermediate pass game.
There’s microscopic margin for error against the defending Super Bowl champs, who are 7-2 so far, but the newly minted tight end duo has an idea of what to expect.
“They’re just a really well-coached team,” Calcaterra said. “They play fast, they’re all on their assignments. They’re not letting offenses get big plays of them. They’re just a good group. Really good, really physical, so we’re gonna have to play our best.”
Stoll, an altruistic role player entrusted to carry out the grimy, often thankless, assignments is prepared to fulfill any role on offense, however big or small.
But that’s not to suggest the 25-year-old would object to a few more targets.
“I’d be lying if I said no to that,” Stoll said with a smirk. “But, as always, we’ll do exactly what we’re told to do, and we’ll do it to the best of our abilities.
“If that means more targets, hopefully, we’ll go out there and do that. If it’s blocking, we’ll go block. So, you know, we’ll just make the most of whatever role we got.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.