Eagles

Eagles rookie Dallas Goedert ready for biggest game of his life

ap_dallas_goedert.jpg
AP Images

Eagles rookie Dallas Goedert ready for biggest game of his life

When Dallas Goedert steps on the field for his first regular season NFL game on Thursday night, there will be 70,000 people making for a raucous crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Not to mention millions watching at home. 

It just so happens that the Eagles’ second-round pick, who played his college career at FCS South Dakota State, will start his NFL career on the biggest stage imaginable. Thursday Night Football to start the 2018 season; the only game on TV. 

“We played some big games in college, but nothing to the extent of this,” Goedert said this week. “Obviously, this will be the biggest game of my life. I’m really excited for it.”

The 23-year-old rookie tight end admitted there might be a little extra nerves on his end, but he expects them to disappear once the game starts. It might help that his parents are coming to town to cheer him on. He said it’s a “dream come true” to start his NFL career on this big of a stage. 

Goedert was asked to name his most memorable opening day. He mentioned the very first game of his college career back on Aug. 30, 2014. His Jackrabbits were on the road to take on No. 24 Missouri at Faurot Field in front of just over 60,000 in an FBS game. 

The Jackrabbits lost that one 38-18, but kept the game pretty close. Goedert picked up his first college reception in that game. It went for nine yards. Pretty soon, that memory might be second for him. 

The Eagles’ second-round pick acquitted himself quite well this preseason. He caught nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. We saw some great flashes from him over the last month, but the preseason doesn’t really matter. The Eagles need him to do it during the regular season. 

“It’s different,” Goedert said. “You just have to know that intensity is going to pick up, you’re going to be playing against better players who are great all-around athletes, they know what they are doing a little bit better. I just have to prepare a little bit harder and be ready for tougher football games.”

Goedert is already listed as the No. 2 tight end on the Eagles’ roster, but he’ll probably need to take an even bigger role for the first few weeks of the season. Third tight end Richard Rodgers has a knee injury and won’t be playing in this game. The rookie said it’s a shame to see his teammate hurt, but is ready to take on a big role for the season. 

While he said he has sometimes set goals for himself in the past, Goedert can’t do that yet because he isn’t sure of what his role will be exactly. He does know he’ll have a role, though. Based on what we saw from him at training camp, a lot of it will probably come in the red zone. 

“I feel like I’ve come a long way,” he said. “Obviously, when you first get here, the game’s a lot faster. The plays are new and everything. After being here for a while, the game’s slowed down quite a bit. The playbook is a lot more familiar. We’ve started game-planning so there are new plays, but I feel like I’ve come a long way and I’m in a good spot.”

The Eagles are expecting a lot from their first pick of the 2018 draft. They come into this season without Trey Burton and Brent Celek, so the Eagles are going to rely on Zach Ertz and Goedert even more. There’s not much time for rookie struggles. The Eagles need Goedert to perform and that starts on Thursday night in front of the football world. 

Everyone is going to be watching. 

How high is Goedert’s excitement level? 

“It’s really high,” he answered. “Obviously, playing in the preseason was great, but going into the regular season is a completely different thing. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

More on the Eagles

Doug Pederson says no to bringing back DeFilippo … ‘at this time’ 

usa-john-defilippo-eagles.jpg
USA Today Images

Doug Pederson says no to bringing back DeFilippo … ‘at this time’ 

In the wake of John DeFilippo’s getting fired by the Vikings on Tuesday, the natural reaction was to think about a possible reunion in Philly. 

Even though Minnesota’s offense hadn’t been good under DeFilippo, he was a part of the Super Bowl staff that led the Eagles to great offensive success not that long ago. So, naturally, there was a clamor from the fanbase to bring him back. 

So Doug knew the question was coming. Here was his response on Wednesday morning: 

I was anticipating this question, but listen, what I’ll say is John did a great job for me. He helped us win a world championship and then he had an opportunity. I love my coaches. I’m confident in the guys we have. So at this time, no.

If you really want the Eagles to bring back Flip, the part to cling to there is “at this time,” because Pederson didn’t rule out an eventual return. But this probably shuts down the idea that Flip would be brought in for some Hue Jackson-type role in Cincinnati. 

While Pederson didn’t rule out an eventual reunion, as I wrote yesterday (see story), it could be tricky because both sides would need to want it. It was important to DeFilippo to get an opportunity to call plays. If the offensive coordinator job in Philadelphia became available, it still wouldn’t give him the ability to do that. He’d be stuck behind Pederson in that regard. 

DeFilippo is still just 40 years old and was thought to be an up-and-coming offensive mind who was going to be a head coach. It’s unclear how his incomplete season in Minnesota will change the perception of him throughout the league. 

But we do know the Eagles thought a lot of him as a coach and for good reason. As QB coach, he helped Carson Wentz become an MVP candidate and helped Nick Foles lead the team to a championship. The Eagles blocked him from leaving before last season and it helped them win a Super Bowl. It wouldn’t be crazy for them to want to bring him back.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Gunner's Week 15 NFL games to watch

ap_ben_tom.jpg
AP Images

Gunner's Week 15 NFL games to watch

Chargers at Chiefs (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. FOX)

Back in week one, the Chargers lost to the Chiefs on their home turf. Since then the Chiefs are who we thought they were; a high flying offense. Meanwhile, it took the Chargers a few games to find solid ground. After stumbling to a 1-2 start, the boys from the left coast have won nine of their last 10 and currently three in a row, just one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Old school vs new school at Arrowhead Stadium. Philip Rivers vs Patrick Mahomes. This is a must watch game. The Chiefs, 6-0 at home, will somehow find a way to stay unblemished in their domain.

Packers at Bears (1 p.m. FOX)

Packers beat the Bears in the season opener, but since then these two have gone in opposite directions. Green Bay’s season was so disappointing that it got head coach Mike McCarthy fired just hours after losing to the lowly Cardinals. As for the Bears, they have become a stingy defense that flexed its muscles and put a defensive beat down on the Rams. Aaron Rodgers is a Bear slayer. He has won 16 of 20 meetings, thrown 45 TD passes, 9 ints, with a QB passer rating of 108.3. A Bears win gives them the NFC North title for the first time since 2010. The Rams had trouble scoring in Chicago. Its going to be a long day for the Packers at Soldier Field.

Cowboys at Colts (1 p.m. FOX)

The 'Boys are riding high winners of five straight and their defense is leading the charge. After shocking the Saints, Dallas followed that up by winning a hard fought divisional battle with the Eagles. Now firmly in control of the NFC East, the Cowboys ride into Indianapolis looking to shoot down the Colts 8th ranked offense. Former Eagles OC Frank Reich has done an incredible job of getting the Colts to believe in themselves, and after knocking off the hottest team in the league down in Houston, they now find themselves knocking on the playoff door (currently the 7th seed). Colts have won six of their last seven, but I like Dallas' D better than I like the Colt resurgence. 

Patriots at Steelers (4:25 p.m. CBS)

Two of the more prominent franchises in the AFC are trying to shake the cobwebs of bad weekends. The Pats lost a shocker down in Miami on the last play of the game and the Steelers have lost three in a row. New England currently has a two-game lead in the AFC East while the Steelers lead in the AFC North has dwindled to just a half game. Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have had some memorable matchups. This should be another one for the books. But Mike Tomlinson's crew has too many deficiencies to overcome Bill Belichick and the Pats.

Saints at Panthers (Mon. 8:15 p.m. ESPN)

The Saints have wrapped up the NFC South and control home field advantage in the conference. But while the Saints are division champs, their division rivals the Panthers have played like chumps. After a 6-2 start, Carolina has lost 5 straight. The Panthers do play better at home (5-1), but going on the road doesn’t faze New Orleans (6-1 away from home). During their current slide, Cam Newton has tossed 9 TD passes and served up 8 ints. All Drew Brees has done in his last 5 outings is throw 13 TD strikes against just 3 ints. Saints can’t afford any more slip-ups if they want to stay home during the playoffs. Cam and company will make the Saints work for it, but in the end, New Orleans goes marching home with the all-important W.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles