Dallas Goedert was powering his way to his first Pro Bowl in early November. The tight end was catching passes, breaking tackles and making point-of-the-attack blocks for the 8-0 Eagles.
On Nov. 3, before a national television audience, Goedert had eight catches for a season-high 100 yards. He scored the game’s final touchdown that clinched the Eagles’ 29-17 victory over the host Houston Texans.
Goedert had such a breakout game, he was interviewed by a “Thursday Night Football” sideline reporter afterward. During the interview, quarterback Jalen Hurts playfully interrupted on the air.
- “My MVP right here,” Goedert said about Hurts on camera.
- “He’s so physical, he’s can block, he can catch, he’s fast,” Hurts said.
- “Keep going, keep going, baby. Keep it up,” Goedert said with a laugh.
- “I love him. I love him,” Hurts said, laughing.
- “What people on the outside think doesn’t matter to me,” Goedert said after Hurts moved on to the “Thursday Night Football” set. “What my teammates think, that’s the most important. ‘J’ said it all.”
After the game, NFL’s Next Gen Stats posted this on Twitter:
- Dallas Goedert caught all 4 of his targets in the intermediate area (10-19 air yards) for a career-high 64 yards on those targets in Week 9.
- Goedert has gained +129 receiving yards over expected this season, trailing only Travis Kelce (+134) among TE.
When you’re mentioned in the same breath as Chiefs’ all-world tight end Travis Kelce, you’re doing plenty right.
Goedert injured his shoulder in the next game, Nov. 14 against Washington. Goedert caught a pass and was running downfield when a Commanders defender grabbed his face mask and tackled him from behind.
Goedert was placed on the injured reserve, which meant he had to miss four games. Turns out, Goedert missed a fifth game.
He returned at Dallas on Christmas Eve. He had three catches on three targets for 67 yards from back-up quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Goedert finished the regular season with 55 catches on 69 targets for 702 yards and three touchdowns. In his five-year career, Goedert has 248 catches for 2,997 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Goedert and the Eagles play the surging Giants in the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday night at the Linc. The Eagles-Giants winner will play the 49ers-Cowboys winner on Jan. 29 in the NFC title game.
Goedert presents a safe and comfortable target for Hurts — either on quick screens in the flat, or working over the middle, or whatever Hurts needs.
As Hurts continues to recuperate from his SC joint sprain in his right shoulder, Goedert’s presence will be a welcome sight to his quarterback. But in the three games Goedert has played since his injury, he has 12 receptions for 158 yards. He was targeted only 16 times. Hurts only played one of those games.
Given Hurts’ injury, the Eagles might be looking for him to release the ball quickly against the Giants, which could play right into Goedert’s hands.
Goedert missed the first meeting against the Giants because of his injury. In the second meeting, mostly against Giants’ back-ups, Goedert was the Eagles’ second-leading receiver with six catches on seven targets for 46 yards.
GIANTS BURNED BY VIKINGS TIGHT END
In the Giants’ wild card win over the Vikings, they effectively shut down Minnesota receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen.
All-Pro first-teamer Jefferson had seven catches on nine targets for 47 yards against the Giants. Theilen had three catches on four targets for 50 yards.
The Giants and Vikings also met on Christmas Eve — a 27-24 Minnesota victory — and Jefferson dominated with 12 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown.
But the Giants didn’t stop Minnesota tight end T.J. Hockenson. He burned them in both games.
On Christmas Eve, Hockenson had 13 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. In the wild card game, he had a game-high 10 catches for 129 yards.
Each match-up is different, of course, and teams adjust to their opponent. The Giants’ lack of success against Hockenson doesn’t mean Goedert will have an enormous game Saturday.
But you better believe the Eagles’ coaches are taking serious notes about how the Giants twice struggled against the Vikings’ tight end.
Offensive coaches spend many hours looking for opponent weaknesses and areas to exploit. Expect Goedert to be a big part of the Eagles’ game plan.
In A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, the Eagles have two record-breaking wide receivers, legitimate game-breakers.
Brown and Smith combined for 183 catches for 2,692 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. They formed one of the NFL’s most feared set of wide receivers.
If the Giants emphasize trying to stop Brown and Smith, as they should, that likely will open up space for Goedert.
Against the Giants, Goedert’s role might be even larger than his more renowned wide receiver mates. You can’t cover everyone.