Birds Under 24: Dallas Goedert

It’s a Julie Ertz’s husband’s world and we’re all just living in it, including Dallas Goedert.

But that’s not such a bad thing, is it? It’s hard to imagine a 6’5″, 256lb beast being in someone’s shadow, but I’m here to explain why this is actually a reason to have a lot of faith in a breakout year from Dallas Goedert.

Dallas Goedert warms up

It’s likely that due to the Ertz elite status that some fans may not be all that high on Dallas Goedert. The Eagles’ 2018 second round pick is slotted firmly behind Ertz on the depth chart, but that does not mean he is not due for a breakout season. Just think back to the 2017-18 season, you know, the one where we won the Super Bowl. How quickly some people forget…

Many will remember Ertz scoring the go-ahead game winning touchdown, diving forward, arm fully extended to break the plane to give the Eagles a 38-33 lead with 2:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. What many may not remember was that the Eagles tight end depth and their ability to run a high percentage of two and three tight end sets was a big staple of an offense that didn’t have tremendous wide receiver depth. Brent Celek and Trey Burton both played significant roles that season and even in the playoffs and the Super Bowl (Philly Special anyone?).

As far as 2017-18 went, Ertz played just under 70% of the offensive snaps, while Celek played over 40% and Burton over 25%. In comparison, only three wide receivers (Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith) played over 30% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. Doug Pederson has always been a matchups guy, and the athleticism, size, and speed that the Eagles have consistently maintained at the tight end position has often been a staple of the offense.

Zach Ertz looks to build on his 2018 season

Even with the loss of both Celek and Burton last season, and despite Goedert’s rookie status, Goedert played 48% of the offensive snaps in the regular season and 42% in the playoffs. The Eagles as a team used their 12 personnel (two-tight end set) on 35% of the offensive snaps last season, tied for second most in the NFL. He had 33 catches for 334 yards and four touchdowns even with Ertz breaking the single season NFL record for most catches by a tight end with 116 receptions (okay, okay, enough about Ertz, I get it).

A replenished roster actually helps Goedert

The Eagles bolstered their wide receiver depth this offseason as well, bringing DeSean Jackson back home and drafting another red-zone target in JJ Arcega-Whiteside (preview to come). The wide receiver rotation may be frequent due to both the nagging injury history of Jackson and Jeffrey, and also down, distance, and situation. While both snaps and targets may be scattered, the thing that makes Goedert my breakout candidate isn’t the depth at WR, but the fact that the Eagles replenished their backfield.

Alshon Jeffrey leads a replenished WR core alongside DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Goedert should see an uptick in snaps due to the substantial upgrades in the backfield of Jordan Howard, rookie Miles Sanders (also preview to come), and a healthy Corey Clement. Two tight end sets are a strong running formation, and also a strong play-action formation, something that Carson Wentz has thrived in early in his career. The threat of a strong run game is going to create space combined with the matchup nightmares that Ertz and Goedert create.

I’ve mentioned Ertz often in this article that’s supposed to be about Goedert for that reason. Ertz is the focal point of opposing defenses going into this season. All the more reason Goedert should capitalize and thrive. He is going to have to improve this summer as a blocker to ensure he can be utilized, but the Eagles coaching staff has a history of improving poor run blockers like Ertz and Burton, so combining that with Goedert’s size, I believe he will become at least an average run-blocking TE.

My predictions for Goedert for the 2019-20 season are as follows:

  • 53% of the offensive snaps
  • 47 receptions
  • 635 yards
  • 6 touchdowns (5 in the red-zone)

I project these numbers to put him 5th on the team in receptions behind Ertz, Agholor, Jackson, and Jeffrey respectively, 4th on the team in receiving yards behind Ertz, Jackson, and Agholor respectively, 3rd in receiving touchdowns behind Ertz and Jackson respectively.

There will always be a low ceiling on Goedert due to the presence of Ertz, but again, I don’t think anyone’s complaining about that. We saw the past two years, for better and for worse, that depth is important. The Eagles took a big risk and received a lot of criticism for taking Goedert so high with Ertz just hitting his prime, but I expect this season to further prove that Howie Roseman is playing chess while many play checkers, and that the Eagles made the right call taking “BPA” (best player available) over drafting for need in this scenario.

It’s weird to say it out loud, but it’s going to be a great year for hearing the words “Touchdown Dallas!” from Merrill Reese.