When Dallas Goedert injured his shoulder on Nov. 14, the Eagles lost not only one of their best offensive players but a secure outlet for quarterback Jalen Hurts.
After the injury, the Eagles announced Goedert would “miss extended time.” Instead, they put him on injured reserve, meaning he could not play for four weeks.
Being without a top player for a month might spell trouble.
- “I think any time you lose a player like Dallas it’s going to hurt,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said three days after Goedert’s injury.
- “He is hard to replace. He is one of the best tight ends in the league.
- “It’s a good opportunity for Jack [Stoll] and Grant [Calcaterra] and Tyree [Jackson] to step up, so looking forward to those guys getting the reps this week and we’ll go from there.”
In this week’s coaches’ critique — where we look at the performance of Eagles’ coaches, good and bad — we sing the praises of tight ends coach Jason Michael.
Michael, a former quarterback at Army and Western Kentucky, has coached in the NFL for 17 years. This is his second year with the Eagles and it has been a challenging one. We praise Michael for his work with the tight ends not only this week but over the last four weeks, when the Eagles defeated Indy, Green Bay, Tennessee and the Giants.
The Eagles’ offense looked as if it didn’t miss a beat, averaging 35 points over the four games.
ONE OF THE BEST
Goedert, who might return Sunday against the Bears, has developed into one of the league’s top tight ends — catching everything, racking up yards after the catch and power blocking anyone near him.
Many times, Hurts looked for Goedert and his tight end responded, accounting for 31 first downs.
The Eagles thought so much of Goedert last year that they traded star tight end Zach Ertz to Arizona. As the starter this season, Goedert had 43 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns before the injury.
- “You can’t wait until you get back him because … he makes a ton of plays,” coach Nick Sirianni said.
- “He’s a great tight end, one of the best tight ends in the NFL. But you have to adapt when you’ve got to adapt.
- Like OK, it’s the same thing when you’re playing a certain style of defense, you might want to run a certain set of plays, but you might not be able to because they’re dictating that you can’t do that.”
When Goedert went down, the Eagles were 8-1, coming off their first loss with a tough road game next at Indy. When he was injured, Goedert had played 542 offensive snaps, 95 percent.
Would his replacements be adequate enough? Would Michael have the reserves ready?
STOLL STEPS IN
Second-year undrafted rookie Stoll was the next man up. At that point, Stoll had four catches for 49 yards. He had played 233 offensive snaps, 41 percent.
Behind Stoll was Calcaterra, a 2022 sixth-round rookie who had one catch for 40 yards. Calcaterra had played 64 offensive snaps, 11 percent.
That wasn’t much playing time or production for a position the Eagles had grown accustomed to banking on. But the back-ups have more than held their own. You don’t always get starter-quality out of back-ups. You’re looking for the back-ups to hold serve, to hold their own. That’s what happened.
Stoll has played all 13 games. He has 10 catches for 117 yards. Jackson has played 31 snaps without a reception.
- “They’ve really done a nice job,” Sirianni said about his back-up tight ends.
- “Jack Stoll, he is a tough-nosed dude, dirty work type player, and now you’re seeing him having to run some routes where he gets to run and show his ability to run and make plays with the ball, and he’s done that …
- “He’s really savvy on how to get to the guy he’s supposed to block, whether that’s a D-end … linebacker … safety … corner.
- “He’s just got great feel, great instincts, great toughness. This guy is playing really good football, and he’s really developing nicely.
- “Jason Michael has done a great job coaching him … I really like that room. They’re all rooting for each other. Nobody is cheering for Jack Stoll more than Dallas Goedert on that sideline, I promise you that.
- “It’s really fun to watch, and that’s, again, that’s just part of this team connecting.”
Calcaterra has played 11 games and has five catches for 82 yards.
- “I think what you see with Grant, you just see he is a scrappy guy and you’re seeing that more and more,” Sirianni said.
- “He had a big-time block on the long touchdown by Miles [Sanders against the Giants] …
- “He really has this ability to snatch the ball and then get in and out of breaks. I think he’s got receiver qualities, but then he can do enough in the run game, and he has been.”
Under Michael’s watch, the Eagles are developing quality depth at tight end, depth that can hold the position together even in a crisis.