With just a shade under a month before the Eagles open the 2018 NFL season against Atlanta, it’s important to remember that this season is unlike any other. There have been numerous highly talented Eagles teams over the years, many with lofty expectations, but none even remotely as high as the bar set for the Birds this season.
The Eagles are Super Bowl champions, and while that’s a fun sentence used with regularity amongst Eagles fans to praise their beloved Birds, it also carries a lot of weight. By now, every coaching staff in the NFL has already scoured through the tape of last year’s Eagles, looking for what gave them that championship edge. Heck, some teams were using Philly’s tape before they won Super Bowl LII:
The 2017 Eagles season has been studied several times over before the season even begins, in all likelihood, and teams have already started changing their roster construction in hopes to compete with the World Champions. On top of teams working tirelessly to emulate the Eagles success from last season, the Birds will also be tested relentlessly on the field. As reigning champs, the Eagles aren’t taking any team by surprise this season and will get the absolute best of every opponent they face. Of course, members of the Eagles staff and roster have already acknowledged the increased heat and expectations that comes with being champs, and seem to be handling it well.
While even a minimal increase in production from last year would likely result in another Super Bowl berth for Philly, the best chance to repeat is to add a completely new element to the team. This ensures that even if a team studies the 2017 tape religiously and goes all-in on building the personnel to stop it, such as the big-spending Rams, they’ll never be fully prepared for the Eagles attack. Admittedly, finding a player that could considerably elevate the play of the reigning champs is difficult, but it should come as no surprise that the savvy trio of Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson, and Joe Douglas found a way to do just that. That player’s name? Dallas Goedert.
Famously drafted by the Eagles to the dismay of the Dallas crowd in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Goedert is a big body tight end (6’5, 260 lbs) known for his superb pass catching ability. And, if the reports out of camp are any indication, Goedert has been as advertised:
Dallas Goedert made an impressive one-handed TD catch against Sidney Jones in the red zone. #Eagles
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) August 1, 2018
Dallas Goedert absolutely owns red zone drills. His catch radius and ability to withstand contact shines.
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) August 1, 2018
Nate Sudfeld w/ good ball to leaping Dallas Goedert up the seam. Kamu Grugier-Hill didn’t have bad coverage but Goedert just outjumped him.
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 2, 2018
— Garry Cobb (@GarryCobb) August 7, 2018
Dallas Goedert, red zone touchdown catch. It’s like clockwork. #Eagles
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 6, 2018
Guess who scored another red zone touchdown?
Dallas. Goedert. #Eagles
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 7, 2018
While it’s been fun to troll Cowboys fans and claim the Eagles moved ahead of them in the draft just to take the tight end they desperately needed, it somewhat diminishes the value of landing Goedert in the second round. The former South Dakota State star is an absolute mountain of a man at 6’5, 260 pounds who makes highlight reel catches with regularity. To say with regularity is even somewhat of an understatement- it’s almost as if catching is so natural to him that he is just experimenting with various angles at this point.
It’s also important to note that Goedert isn’t the ‘typical big body prospect’ that scouts claim NFL teams could teach to use their hulking frames more in the pros, a la wide receivers Brandon Coleman or Dorial Green-Beckham, that enter the league unaware of how to use their wide catching radius to their advantage. Goedert used his size to absolutely dominate his collegiate competition, and seems primed for more of the same in the NFL.
There were a ton of directions the Eagles could have gone with their first pick in the draft, most with the potential to make the Eagles at least minimally better, but only Goedert presented a completely new aspect to the offense. I think that’s what separated him on the Eagles draft board and why they made the move up to get him. With his rare blend of size, athleticism, and otherworldly catching ability, Goedert could completely transform the Eagles red zone offense, which is no small task considering the team ranked highly at second in that regard last season. I just can’t envision any team has the personnel to stop Jeffery, Agholor/Wallace, Ertz, and Goedert when their lined up in the red zone more than maybe two times a game, and even that’s a stretch. Goedert should have little to no trouble plucking 3-5 scores in Pederson’s high-octane offense this season and has the potential to form the first dominant tight end duo with Ertz since the Gronk-Hernandez tandem in New England further along in his career.
Simply put, if Goedert can continue his recent string of dominance, the Eagles offense will be about as close to unfair as you can get in the NFL, and Doug Pederson and co. should be commended for spotting the discrepancy between his potential impact for the team as opposed to other rookies. Yes, there were likely more talented players on the board when the Eagles took Goedert with the 52nd overall pick. Yes, there were positions on the team’s roster in worse shape than tight end. Both of these things hold truth, but the potential impact of Goedert was unrivaled by any prospect available when the Birds were on the clock and his potential was simply too high to pass up.
Another truthful statement, albeit not as spirited, is that superstar starting TE Zach Ertz has never started and finished a full 16 game slate in his career- 13 being the most he’s ever started in a season in five years in the NFL. For one reason or another, the sure-handed Super Bowl hero finds himself out of the lineup with an injury at least a few games every year. If that situation were to arise again this season, which, as history suggests, is fair to assume, Goedert could be in line for some HUGE performances this season. The 6’5 catching machine should provide more than enough production to keep the Eagles offense afloat in the event that Ertz misses a few games. Combine those 2-3 potential starts with his anticipated presence in the red zone, and it’s clear to see that Goedert will likely be an X-Factor for the Birds on their road to a repeat. Best of wishes NFL, you’re going to need it.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola