Dallas Goedert Has Become the Theme of Eagles Camp
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles are always quick to point out that they already used more two tight-end sets that anyone else in the NFL last season but Doug Pederson has also admitted that unveiling ways to better utilize '12' personnel was one of his major goals in the offseason.
And through three training camp practices, the Eagles have started team drills in their Tiger package with both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the field.
Ertz is already a star of course, a Super Bowl winner and author of a league TE record of 116 receptions last season, but the nod toward even more 12 personnel has more to do with Dallas Goedert, the emerging second-year player who just about everyone in the NovaCare Complex believes will also be a star player.
“Last year at this time, we were just getting to know Dallas' game,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said after Saturday’s first padded practice of the summer. “Now we really understand Dallas' strengths. From that standpoint, we're further down the road."
And further down the road is figuring out how to best utilize Goedert's well-rounded skill set as an in-line blocker with the speed to separate from safeties or linebackers in the passing game as not only a complement to the route-running machine that is Ertz but also Philadelphia's talent receiving corps which will include Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
The conundrum is twofold: If Goedert on the field, one of those talented receivers has to come off of it and Pederson's default setting as a coach is 11 personnel which is three receivers on the field.
Manipulating formations is one of Pederson's strengths, however, and he's already shown looks where Jeffery and Jackson stay on the field with the two TEs and the duo of Jeffery and Agholor. Meanwhile, the fourth-year coach has shown looks where all of the aforementioned receivers have lined up in the slot even though most outside the building default to Agholor being the slot receiver.
The goal is to always have the opposing defensive coordinator on his heels.
"I think that was kind of a thing going into camp we were going to work on 12,” said Goedert. “We wanted to see what we could do, different things, make sure everybody knows their spots and I think it can be a big part of the offense, but it’s ultimately up to the coaches and I’m going to do everything I can.”
While the Eagles like Agholor and have high hopes for Arcega-Whiteside the organization seems convinced that Goedert is ready to join Ertz in the star category at TE.
“You got a good look at [Goedert] today in the passing game," Groh said after the South Dakota State product got loose on a crossing pattern from Carson Wentz that would have been a huge gain. "The guy is explosive, gets down the field in a hurry, he's a big target. He has soft hands. He's easy to spot down the field."
In the modern NFL there are a lot of TEs who serve as glorified slot receivers but few that offer the old school Y traits like say Rob Gronkowski, the recently retired Patriots star. The most surprising part of Goedert's tool box as a rookie was his in-line blocking, something he wasn't asked to do all that much in college because he was so good as a receiver.
"He is continuing his development on the line of scrimmage as a blocker, really understands the game and the communication it takes to not only play his position but next to the tackle and all the things they have to get done together," Groh said. "He was really strong at the point of attack and continued to improve all year long last year.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen