Earlier this month, in his last news conference before the season opener, Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said that rookie tight end Dallas Goedert was "going to have to be a major contributor for us throughout the course of the season."
Well, we're two games in. Against Atlanta, Goedert played 17 snaps, was targeted three times, made one catch, for 4 yards, and inadvertently played a role in an interception when a safety put his helmet on the ball just as Goedert tried to pull it in. Sunday at Tampa, with the Eagles' receiving corps in full crisis mode after wideout Mike Wallace broke his right fibula on the second series, Goedert again played 17 snaps. He was not targeted at all.
The No. 1 tight end, Zach Ertz, led Eagles receivers in Tampa with 11 catches for 94 yards, playing 74 snaps. Joshua Perkins, a former Atlanta Falcon who made the team when veteran tight end Richard Rodgers had to go on IR, played 26 snaps, was targeted six times, and caught four passes for 57 yards – by far his most extensive career NFL action. Perkins dropped two passes and took a penalty that wiped out a 43-yard Corey Clement punt return.
Eagles fans, who got excited about Goedert's potential in the preseason, took note, as they are wont to do.
Doug Pederson's answer after the game was convoluted, but the gist was that Perkins, a former wide receiver listed at 6-foot-3, 223, vs. Goedert's 6-5, 256, had to play that role a bit after Wallace went down. The coaching staff felt Perkins' experience and skill set were a better fit.
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Heading into this weekend's return of Carson Wentz, against the visiting Indianapolis Colts, the Eagles seem to be in need of guys who can make plays in the passing game. Wallace isn't playing, Alshon Jeffery almost certainly isn't ready to make his debut after shoulder surgery, Mack Hollins is on IR, so the release of DeAndre Carter Tuesday in favor of running back Josh Adams would seem to leave the team with Nelson Agholor, Kamar Aiken and Shelton Gibson as the only healthy wideouts. (That could and probably will change; ex-Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews worked out for the team Tuesday.)
Groh agreed Tuesday that he and the rest of the offensive masterminds need to do more to get Goedert into the flow.
"We have a talented player in Dallas, and we need to find more ways, as you stated, to get him involved … We had some extenuating circumstances the other day, for a variety of reasons. He just wasn't in there in the spots where we were getting the ball to," Groh said.
"We're going to continue to try to monitor that and make sure that he is going to help us win games here."
Goedert said he understood the Tampa situation, and figures he'll be a bigger part of things against the Colts.
" 'Perk' has more of a receiver body … When someone gets hurt, you kind of have to put people in the best situations, and that's what the coach thought was the best situation," said Goedert, who was the team's top draft pick, taken in the second round, 49th overall. "I think there's a good chance that all three of us play quite a bit this week."
Groh said "there's been some moving parts" in the receiving corps, even going back to training camp. "The discussions are a little bit longer, last a little bit longer than sometimes you'd like, because you're trying to put the pieces to the puzzle together a little bit. They tend to linger a little bit more than when you have everybody available."
Goedert said he feels he's up to speed on everything, "I feel like I performed well. … That's really all I can do."
He said he isn't getting impatient.
"I know my time will come," he said. "I gotta be patient; it's my second game. I'm not too worried about it."
Goedert, from South Dakota State, has never played with North Dakotan Wentz, but they have practiced together. Wentz hooked up Goedert with Wentz's agent group during the draft process.