Philadelphia Eagles News

Tight Ends Carry Load For Shorthanded Offense

In Carson Wentz's first drive of 2018, the offense wasted no time in executing the game plan: spread the ball out to the tight ends.

Wentz found Zach Ertz for 17 yards over the middle for his first completion of the season. He then found Joshua Perkins for 10 yards, Ertz for 7- and 8-yard receptions, and finally Dallas Goedert for a 13-yard touchdown.

There were completed passes to all three tight ends, and the offense made it look easy. In a game where the Eagles missed plenty of key offensive weapons, the tight ends filled the void.

"We've talked about it the last couple weeks. We had the potential to do it, and this week, with Mike Wallace going down last week, it was kind of more of an implemented thing," Goedert told reporters after the game. "We knew we were going to start in it and it was early on in the week, so we knew what was coming. We were able to prepare for it, and I think we executed it really well."

Wallace, wide receiver Mack Hollins, and tight end Richard Rodgers are all on Injured Reserve, and Alshon Jeffery remains out as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. In addition, other offensive weapons like running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles sat out Sunday due to injury.

So, the tight ends were used prominently and interchangeably, sometimes with all three on the field at once. Goedert and Ertz led all receivers with 73 yards apiece, Goedert on seven receptions and Ertz on five. Perkins added a catch for 10 yards and was used often as a blocker.

"It gives us kind of an advantage sometimes," said Perkins on the Eagles' three-tight end sets. "If they come out in nickel, we can run the ball a little more. If they come out in different sets, we can spread them out and do different things, so it just gives us a lot of variety on offense to have three tight ends that can be interchanged like that."

Head coach Doug Pederson told reporters after the game that with the size and ability of the team's three tight ends, having them out there as much as possible presented a personnel advantage.

"Teams want to play a base defense," Pederson said. "They eventually went to nickel defense. We still had some success doing that. Then we began to run the ball. Just bigger people, athletic people on the field. It really worked for us on the opening drive and we just wanted to get the quarterback in a rhythm too with that."

Goedert's 13-yard strike on the opening drive was Wentz's only touchdown pass of the day, and it was the first NFL touchdown of Goedert's career. It came following two weeks in which Goedert had just one reception for 4 yards in two games despite high expectations from an impressive preseason.

Goedert said the touchdown was fun, especially at home, but it wasn't something he needed to get out of the way. He didn't let his lack of production weigh on him going into Week 3.

"I never know when my number is going to be called, but I'm always going to be ready," Goedert said. "Today we used tight ends a lot. Depending on the week, it might change. But it was fun being out there a lot, glad I can do whatever I can to help the team win."

Ertz said it was big for Goedert to have a big day against the Colts and that he was happy for him. Ertz knows that having two dynamic tight ends on the field will only make his job easier.

"I've pretty much played in the same spot for the previous two years that Doug (Pederson) has been here," Ertz said. "And so the ability to get me in different positions and the defense doesn't know where I'm going to be pre-snap could be huge for us and huge for the offense. And hopefully, I can make plays when my number is called."

The Eagles will hopefully be able to add more of the pieces they missed on Sunday back into their offense in the coming week, so there is less of a reliance on the tight ends for production. The tight end trio, however, is prepared for whatever change comes and just enjoyed the role they played in the win against the Colts.

"It's really fun because I get to spend a lot of time out there with Zach and Perk," Goedert said. "It's fun to be out on the field with them, communicating with them, we like to pride ourselves on execution and things like that so it's fun to have them out there. ... I'm sure next week it might change and we might not go with as many tight ends but no matter what we do, I'm going to be ready when my number is called and I'll give everything I can."

Check out all of the best photos from Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts on September 23, 2018.

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