The first Training Camp practice is nine days away. Between now and then, we will look at the biggest Training Camp storylines facing the Eagles. Today, the topic is tight end Dallas Goedert's role for the 2019 season.
Dave Spadaro: It's exciting to think of all the possibilities that could exist with an Eagles offense that is dripping with talent. The Eagles have all of the pieces to confound defenses in every way, and the tandem of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert is intriguing. The Eagles have talked about this since 2018 ended, about how they want to further incorporate the second-year tight into the passing game. So, is that going to be the case in 2019? I think it's going to be a week-by-week situation, based on the matchups against that particular defense.
Everyone with the Eagles understands Goedert's abilities and how far he's come since the team selected him 49th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Goedert is a flat-out stud – big and strong and sure-handed as a receiver who runs well, who has worked hard to improve his routes, and who is a good and improving blocker in the running game. The Eagles are going to use two-tight end sets quite a bit this season, just as they did last year when they employed "12 personnel" (one running back, two tight ends) on 35 percent of their offensive snaps, according to reported analytics. Goedert ended up playing 48 percent of the snaps in the regular season and 42 percent in the postseason, and his percentage was up around 60 percent in the final six weeks of the regular season.
So, the idea that the Eagles are going to suddenly revamp the personnel packages and become more of a tight end-centric attack really isn't accurate. They're already there, for the most part. My sense is that the Eagles want to take advantage of the Ertz-Goedert duo, especially when they look to attack a defense's linebackers and safeties in coverage. Who can run with both of those tight ends? Who can match up physically against two tight ends who have it all? Not many teams.
Bottom line: Goedert is going to get his touches and Ertz is going to get his, but there is only one football and the Eagles have a plethora of weapons offensively. This is a spread-the-wealth concept that works when every player buys in and the team is winning games.
Fran Duffy: I look at Dallas Goedert and, to me, my eyes just light up with the possibilities for the Eagles' offense in 2019. Why? His presence alongside Zach Ertz in the Eagles "12 personnel" grouping provides Doug Pederson with a grouping that defenses will have trouble matching up with.
It's first-and-10, and the Eagles come out with this look. Will they run it? Or throw it? Will the defense respond with a smaller nickel subpackage? If so, the Eagles can try and run the ball. Will the opponent go big with its base defense to defend the run? If so, the Eagles can throw and take advantage of matchups in space. Not only that, but when you have a running back who can be moved around and used as a versatile chess piece (like how Miles Sanders can, in theory), that opens up the possibilities of going into hurry-up mode and really throwing the defense for a loop.
There is a lot that I can write on this topic, but make no mistake about it, opponents have to prepare for this two-tight end look from the Eagles, and Dallas proved why last year as a rookie in flashes.
Chris McPherson: I recall when Doug Pederson met with reporters at the Scouting Combine in February and he said that incorporating Goedert more in 2019 was on the coaching staff's to-do list.
"I think that's gonna be a source of topic for us as a coaching staff moving forward," Pederson said. "He's a big piece to our success."
Ertz, as a rookie in 2013, posted numbers of 36 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns, playing 41 percent of the snaps. Goedert's rookie year totals were quite similar. He had 33 grabs for 334 yards and four scores, in 48 percent of the snaps. Goedert also had two clutch catches in the Wild Card win over Chicago, including a touchdown.
And those numbers don't include the 75-yard touchdown in Dallas that was mistakenly taken away.
It turns out, despite that call, Goedert's performance in that game earned the highest rating of ANY NFL tight end in 2018, per Pro Football Focus.
If Goedert didn't have a hamstring injury leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, he probably doesn't last until the Eagles' pick in the second round. This offseason, Goedert was a stud, as Coach Pederson called Goedert one of the top players this spring.
Goedert and Ertz complement each other so well. The odds are pretty favorable that this will be the best 1-2 punch at the tight end position in the league when the 2019 season is over.