A pair of Eagles’ Tight Ends have made the most out of their recent opportunities

HOUSTON, TX – NOVEMBER 03: Philadelphia Eagles tight end Grant Calcaterra (81) warms up before the football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 3, 2022 in Houston, TX. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles look like the most complete team in the NFL after back-to-back blowout victories. They stand alone at the top of the NFL at 12-1.

Their offense overwhelmed the New York Giants on Sunday with execution in all facets of the running game and the passing game. They showed new creative formations that expanded an already multidimensional attack that has given opposing defensive coordinators headaches all season.

They even got excellent contributions from an unlikely source: the tight-end position. With Dallas Goedert still sidelined with a shoulder injury, Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra executed in their roles seamlessly.

Dallas Goedert Injury

Goedert proved himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL during the first half of the 2022 season with 43 catches for 544 yards in the first nine games. Many analysts considered tight end the position with the least depth on the roster. When the Eagles placed Goedert on injured reserve (IR) on Nov. 16, unproven backups Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra stared at the biggest opportunities of their young professional careers.

Stoll carved a niche on the roster as a blocking specialist in 2021 as an undrafted rookie. The Eagles selected Calcaterra in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in Las Vegas in April with eyes predominantly on his ability as a receiver.

The overall value Goedert brings to the passing game as a receiver and the running game as a blocker is tough to replace by committee with two players who each specialize in one of the two skills. Alternating two players based on situations can also act as an indicator of a pass play or run play for a defense before the snap.

Eagles’ tight end Grant Calcaterra summarized the need to fill the shoes of Goedert with an overall effort.

“They always talk about being a complete tight end, not having any weaknesses. That’s the beauty of the position, being able to go out there as a tight end and run routes like a receiver and then keep the defense in the same personnel and be able to run the ball and be efficient, almost like a tackle. That’s the ultimate goal of being a tight end, to be complete, so we’re always striving to be better in both areas (blocking and receiving).”

-Grant Calcaterra

Stoll, Calcaterra Shine Against Giants

Stoll has handled a bigger share of the workload in the four games Goedert has missed. However, the percentage of offensive snaps he’s taken has decreased each game during that span while Calcaterra’s percentage has increased in all four. Stoll played 69% on Sunday while Calcaterra played 57%. 

Jack Stoll
(percentage of offensive snaps)
Grant Calcaterra
(percentage of offensive snaps)
vs. Indianapolis Colts (Nov. 20)81%28%
vs. Green Bay Packers (Nov. 27)80%29%
vs. Tennessee Titans (Dec. 4)74%38%
vs. New York Giants (Dec. 11)69%57%

The combo was effective all afternoon. They evenly distributed contributions as receivers. Stoll finished with two catches for 20 yards. Calcaterra added two for 24 yards. Hurts overshot Calcaterra on a third-down pass in the endzone during the second quarter, but the trust to target the former Oklahoma Sooner in a key situation speaks to his growing comfort level in the offense.

The real contributions from the fill-in tight ends came in the ground game. 

The Giants scored on their first possession of the second half to cut the Eagles lead to 27-14 at the only point in the game when the outcome was even relatively questionable. The Eagles responded on the following drive. They converted on a third-and-1 when Hurts faked a quarterback sneak and pitched to Miles Sanders. The newest member of Philadelphia’s 1000-yard rushing club took the ball outside for a 15-yard gain with Stoll out in front as his lead blocker.

Two plays later, Hurts kept it on the ground behind his big tight end. Stoll cleared the way for an 11-yard gain looking like a Nebraska fullback in 1995.

Calcaterra showcased his athleticism in a role as a lead blocker on the new-look counter plays the Eagles ran to Sanders all afternoon. The Eagles rushed for 253 yards on the ground with an all-around effort. They were able to get the ball carrier in space consistently with two big tight ends pushing past the New York front seven.

Goedert Timeline

Nick Sirianni is a leading candidate for NFL Coach of the Year because he has gotten the best team in the league operating efficiently by maximizing his personnel.

The injury to Dallas Goedert changed the capabilities of the Philadelphia offense. However, Sirianni and the coaching staff have utilized available depth players like Stoll and Calcaterra to help rejuvenate the offense over the past three weeks.

Dallas Goedert is eligible to come off injured reserve and play against the Chicago Bears in Week 15. His updated status will be a storyline this week. Adding a top-tier NFL tight end to an offense clicking this well should overwhelm opposing defenses even more.

Regardless of his timeline, the Eagles have proven they’re a multidimensional offense that can move the ball effectively in different ways. Their ability to adjust to circumstances will benefit them as they enter the postseason.

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire