Eagles

Dallas Goedert has look of Zach Ertz clone in training camp

Dallas Goedert has look of Zach Ertz clone in training camp

One of the biggest takeaways from the first week of Eagles training camp is that we are going to see a ton of two-tight end sets this year with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert terrorizing opposing defenses in the red zone.

The Eagles ran a lot of 12 personnel last year — 23 percent of their offensive snaps came with one running back, two tight ends and two receivers, according to the website SharpFootballStats. That was sixth most in the league.

That number may not go up, but the impact the two tight ends make will.

It’s early, but Goedert, the rookie second-round pick from South Dakota State, already looks like he’s ready to make an enormous impact in the red zone.

We've all seen what kind of player Ertz is. Now the Eagles have an Ertz clone.

Goedert looks smooth, poised and comfortable. Sometimes, it's tough to tell No. 86 and No. 88 apart.

"He's a smart guy," Doug Pederson said. "He knows what he's doing."

As Ertz explained, with Ertz and Goedert on the field, the Eagles will be more unpredictable in two-TE sets than in the past.

“It’s going to be different than in years past,” Ertz said. “In years past, when it was me and Brent (Celek) on the field it was more run-dominant. When it was me and Trey (Burton), it was more pass-dominant and teams went nickel. … When it was Trey and I, I was always the guy with my hand in the ground [to block].

"[Now], teams are going to really have to choose whether they want to go base or go nickel to the two of us. … Now you can kind of vary it up.”

During red zone drills on Wednesday, Nick Foles connected with Goedert three times for touchdowns against the first-team defense.

Three TDs in one practice gets you noticed.

“Yeah, it's going to be exciting, I think,” Pederson said. “I'm encouraged obviously where Dallas is and his progress.

“He's still learning just the different intricacies, the details of route running, understanding coverage and leverage. But I think that as we scale back, when we get into a game plan and we're game-plan specific, when he can really detail, I think it's going to be an exciting matchup with he and Ertz out on the field.”

Burton threw one of the most famous touchdown passes in NFL history, but he caught only 23 passes for 248 yards last year, though he did score five touchdowns.

Celek is an all-time Eagles great but caught just 27 passes for 285 yards the last two seasons combined.

Burton signed a massive four-year, $32 million contract with the Bears this offseason. Celek is currently out of football.

Goedert is going to be a force.

“He looks good out here,” Carson Wentz said. “He catches almost everything and finds a way to pull things in.

“He’s still got work to do like a lot of these [young] guys, but I like how he’s progressed and really mentally as well, just picking up on everything and learning the ins and outs of route running. He looks good.”

Ertz has 227 catches for 2,493 yards and 14 touchdowns the last three years and was brilliant last year in the postseason.

Now, with Goedert, the Eagles have arguably their best 1-2 tight end punch ever.

“You can see why he was drafted high,” Ertz said. “He makes plays on the ball in the air, he’s physical, he’s a lot further along at the point of attack than I thought he would be coming from what school he came from, so he’s obviously put a lot of work in. He has a good feel for everything.”

When the Eagles play one tight end, Nelson Agholor will generally be in the slot with Ertz at tight end. With Ertz and Goedert both on the field, there are all kinds of possibilities.

“We’re going to be able to move Dallas and me around,” Ertz said.

Good luck defending an offense with Alshon Jeffery, Agholor, Mike Wallace, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles and these two tight ends.

“We still haven't played any games,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “We've got to get out there and play some games against some new people. But at this stage, I think he's right where he needs to be.”

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Graham started all 16 games for the Eagles last season and recorded four sacks and nine tackles for loss. 

He'll be a key part of the defense this season, especially with the team having lost defensive ends Michael Bennett and Chris Long.

"He needs to be a double-digit [sacks] guy in order for this defense to really work the way it's supposed to work," according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Barrett Brooks.

Brooks and Derrick Gunn discuss why Graham comes in eighth on their list of the 10 most important Eagles in the video above. 

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While many Eagles fans have mixed emotions about Donovan McNabb and his tenure as a Philadelphia Eagle, that feeling is not mutual. 

In town Thursday to meet kids at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, McNabb told me that it’s all happy when he reflects on his time with the Eagles.

“I don’t get involved in the banter outside, the negative or people’s opinions," he said. "It was fulfilling a dream of playing football. And I have four kids of my own who were a part of the run we had here in Philadelphia so it was fun — it was a lot of fun.”

As for this year’s Eagles team, McNabb believes this squad can get to the Super Bowl, and he feels that everything begins and ends with Carson Wentz and his health. But it comes as no surprise that the former quarterback picked the guys who protect Wentz as most important to the Eagles' success outside of the signal caller.

“I think that offensive line has to gel like they were a couple years ago and take pressure off of Carson," McNabb said.

And yes, Philly fans, Five will always love you … and laugh with you. 

“I truly love what the fans have done for me and the support that I’ve had through my career," he said. "Sometimes you have your opinionated fans and that motivates and drives me, to this day. I laughed about it now and I laughed about it then.”

Fans will have a chance to chuckle with McNabb this fall when he’s inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on November 7.

You can watch more of my interview with McNabb above.

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