Dallas Goedert’s campaign for more targets this season is off to a solid start.
The second-year tight end carried his strong training camp into the Eagles’ 27-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Thursday’s preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field. He finished his half of football with three catches for 50 yards.
Goedert said this week that he’d likely be the No. 1 tight end on 29 NFL teams, and that he’s hoping the Eagles’ glut of receiving weapons won’t keep him from having games with double-digit targets.
“I hope it’s a lot [of targets]," he said. "Hopefully, they’ll double everybody else and leave me wide open. That would be perfect.”
The performance by the South Dakota State product gave the Eagles good reason to think the passes will come his way, but perhaps not the lax coverage he’d been looking for.
He came out for the coin toss, joining backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld and cornerback Rasul Douglas as the team captains. Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and most of the starters watched the game in street clothes, which opened things up for Goedert. He and running back Jordan Howard were the only players expected to play significant snaps this season who took the field on offense, and Goedert played like it.
He helped get Sudfeld into a rhythm before the signal caller went down with a broken left wrist. He caught a 24-yard pass on a crossing route on the third drive of the game. He had a team-high five targets and was second in yards-per-reception with 16.7 yards, behind Markel Michel, who caught a 75-yard touchdown pass on his only reception.
“I felt like it was a good day, with the little bit I played,” Goedert said. “I was excited to hit somebody else -- we weren’t playing the same defense that we have for the last two weeks. We got out there, did what we could, and we’ll get back to it on Saturday.”
Goedert had an appreciation for the different coverage schemes teams employed on him while he was the primary threat at tight end.
“It’s a tough matchup for linebackers” covering him in the open field, Goedert said. “I’ve been playing with Zach for so long, I haven’t had a lot of linebackers on me but I did today and I was able to have fun out there.”
The 6-foot-5, 256-pounder had 33 catches for 334 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season. He said he’s made progress as a route-runner since last year, which helped him beat coverage on Thursday.
“The more you get to do it, the more you get to do it against elite defenders, the better you get at it," he said. "I feel like it’s definitely improved since last year.”
He might be the “one” in “11 personnel” (one tight end, one running back) on some NFL teams, but on the Eagles, he’s the second option behind Ertz, who broke the single-season record for receptions by a tight end last season with 116 catches.
But, with Goedert’s promising camp and his showing against the Titans, don’t be surprised to see the Eagles increase their consistent use of “12 personnel" in the regular season. Even before training camp, Goedert said the coaching staff told him there would be an increased use of the formation featuring one running back and two tight ends.
Sharp Football Stats lists the Eagles as running the formation that typically features Goedert 35 percent of the time, about 15 percent more than the league average.