Twenty-eight years after his father donned an Eagles jersey for one season,
“Right after I got in, (on my second snap), I was able to slash in and hit Eddie Lacy in the backfield,” Goode said. “It was kind of a statement play that I was going to be here all game.”
Goode would not slow down until the final whistle. He was frequently deployed as a run blitzer and disrupted plays at the line of scrimmage, totaling five total tackles (one solo).
Now Goode faces the prospect of perhaps starting his first game in the NFL on Sunday against Washington if Kendricks, who is officially listed as day-to-day, is out.
“I played in the Green Bay game and upheld my part of the deal by making the plays I was supposed to make and doing the things I was supposed to do,” Goode said. “Now I have the chance to go out there and start and do the same thing, so now it’s, ‘What can you do with it?’ A lot of guys start in the league, but you have to have an impact once you get on the field.”
The transition from backup to starter in a pinch is never easy, but it is the kind of opportunity players live for, one that can launch a career. Goode has been lauded by head coach Chip Kelly as a bright individual who picked up the scheme quickly, has excelled in the classroom and prepared himself for this moment.
“One of the things about (Najee), he’s a really sharp kid,” Kelly said. “I mean, real smart guy. I think he was an industrial mechanical engineer major. He has a really good grasp. When he got here, that’s one of the first things that struck us, this guy is an intelligent football player.”
“I majored in engineering, mechanical and industrial (at West Virginia),” Goode said. “It just came from growing up, just learning, you have to be a learner. Guys learn in different ways, but I like to think that’s one of my big advantages. I don’t mind sitting back, watching a little extra film, sitting down and looking at things a little bit longer and visualizing what I have to do.”
The Eagles’ player personnel department puts together a big board every Training Camp and preseason, just like it does during the draft, of players around the league who might get cut and would be of interest to add to the roster. Goode was right at the top of the list.
“We thought we had guys (currently on the roster) who were instinctive, but had the same body type and same traits,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “So we were looking for somebody, ironically, who could come in if Kendricks got hurt and add some speed. We felt like that’s the dimension (Goode) brought that was different from the other guys.”
There is one play from the Packers game, however, that Goode would like to have back. He took a few steps back into coverage at the snap and read quarterback Scott Tolzien’s eyes, flashing in front of the intended receiver just as the ball arrived. It was a sure interception, one Goode would have returned for a touchdown – except he dropped it.
“I beat myself up because I dropped one or two (sure interception-for-touchdowns) in college,” Goode said, “and I was like, damn, I caught one in the preseason for a pick-six and then come (last Sunday) I had some Vaseline on my hands or something. Honestly, when I made the break I saw the ball, saw it down low. It was just one of those things where I should’ve looked the ball in. I’m definitely going to catch the next one.”
“He did a great job of just playing downhill (against the Packers),” Roseman said. “He actually had a play in the preseason where he jumped that same route and took it to the house, so when he got that route in the Green Bay game, he had that same opportunity. Next time he’ll get it.”
Hopefully that “next time” comes sooner rather than later. Sunday would be preferable.
As for Goode’s father, John, his one season in Philadelphia was enough to fall in love with the Eagles and their fans forever. It is something his son already feels.
“He said to embrace everything in the city because the fans, they take the game to another altitude,” Goode said. “Coming out and the things they do for the city as far as supporting the team, people might say fans boo this, this and that, but they support the team and we love them for it. That’s why it’s such a great place to play because … here, in this city, no matter whether it’s cold or hot, I can already tell the fans are up and at it.”