Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are both praised plenty for their abilities as receivers, but let’s take a look at the job they did in the run game against the Rams.
The Eagles spent more than half of their offensive snaps Sunday in 12 personnel and it helped get their running attack going against the Rams, who stubbornly stayed in their nickel defense.
Ertz and Goedert were able to help clear some big holes and helped the Eagles get in the end zone three times.
It was the first time all year the Eagles had three rushing touchdowns in a game and just the second time since the 2014 season. And all three rushing touchdowns Sunday came with the Eagles in their 12-personnel package.
This first play we’re going to look at comes late in the second quarter. It’s 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line. The Eagles are in shotgun with Josh Adams to Nick Foles’ left. On that side of the line, Goedert and Ertz are tight next to Jason Peters.
Goedert is about to block two guys on this play and won’t look like a rookie doing it.
Goedert’s first man is the linebacker Cory Littleton (58) and then he’ll take out No. 43 John Johnson III as Ertz will take over the block on 58.
Goedert engages on 58 but has his eyes on the next level. The hole is already created because Peters is taking Michael Brockers (90) out of the play.
After Goedert leaves 58 for Ertz, he is able to get his shoulder out there to take on Johnson and create a hole for Adams, who runs in the 6-yard touchdown. Goedert doesn’t take Johnson out of the play, but he slows him down just enough to prevent him from making the tackle as Adams drags him across the goal line.
It’s a thing of beauty.
That’s not a play most rookie tight ends are able to make. And it’s the type of play we have to remember when we get that itch to look at Goedert’s receiving numbers and be unimpressed.
“That’s one of the areas where he’s shown tremendous amount of improvement in,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He was not asked to do a ton of that in college. So to really be doing for the first time in the NFL is something that usually takes tight ends a year or two. He’s really developed. Justin Peele has done a great job of getting him coached up. Dallas is a tough guy and he’s really got a lot of strength there at the point of attack.”
This next play comes on 1st-and-goal from the 9-yard line in the third quarter. At this point, the game was still tied 13-13. Again, the Eagles are in 12 personnel, but this time, Goedert and Ertz are lined up to the right of Lane Johnson. Foles is in shotgun with Smallwood to his right.
This time, Goedert is asked to block No. 94 DE John Franklin-Myers 1-on-1 as Ertz gets to the next level on 43.
Johnson and Brandon Brooks create the hole, but the key is that Goedert needs to hold it against a defensive lineman who outweighs him 30-plus pounds. It’s Ertz’s job to simply run over 43 and he does.
“I think Zach takes a lot of pride in being a complete player, not just a pass-catching tight end,” Groh said. “And he’s done a really good job too.”
This is a pretty big freakin’ hole. Ertz just keeps his block on Johnson and Smallwood shows off his balance after Johnson tries to trip him up low.
This was an impressive play and not the last time we were going to see the Eagles run out of 12 personnel in their big win.
This play is actually Smallwood’s second touchdown of the third quarter. Surprise, the Eagles are back in 12 personnel after they already had plenty of success with this personnel grouping. It’s 2nd-and-2 from the Rams’ 4-yard line with the Eagles up 23-13.
This time, Goedert and Ertz are lined up to the left of Peters. Ertz’s job is to handle 43 again, while Goedert is again asked to first block a defensive lineman. He blocks the the right DE until he passes him off to Peters and gets to the next level and then he blocks 26 (linebacker Mark Barron).
Goedert and Peters double the lineman but here’s the point where Goedert takes care of the linebacker. Give credit to Stefen Wisniewski and Jason Kelce for helping to create that hole as the RDT slants to the wrong side. Ertz has his man with no problem outside.
Another nice hole for Smallwood, who picks up his second rushing touchdown of the quarter. Smallwood came into Sunday night with three career touchdowns.
The Rams stubbornly stayed in nickel for most of Sunday’s game, which made it a little easier for the Eagles to run out of their 12 personnel package, but we might be seeing a slight shift in philosophy. With Ertz playing so well and with Goedert coming on strong, the Eagles have the ability to be readily good and versatile with two tight ends.
Obviously, Ertz’s ability as a pass-catcher is special and Goedert has the ability to catch too, but the strength in this personnel grouping is being able to do both. We saw the Eagles have the ability to dominate the run game in this way on Sunday.
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