How an under-rated Eagle embraces his unique role


Jack Stoll was sitting at his locker Tuesday talking about the improvement he’s made as a blocker this year when Dallas Goedert – who occupies the locker next to him – walked over, heard the conversation, and yelled, “Best in the bleeping league!”

Stoll might not quite be the best in the bleeping league just yet, but he plays a unique and fascinating role on the NFL’s only undefeated team.

You might barely notice him. Unless you’re really paying attention, you might not even realize he’s playing. He’s only gotten four targets all year. Yet he’s been on the field for nearly half the Eagles’ offensive snaps this year.

Stoll has emerged as a critical blocking specialist as the Eagles’ No. 2 tight end. Unlike the Brent Celek / Zach Ertz days or the Ertz / Goedert days, the Eagles really only throw to one tight end. Godert has 32 catches, Stoll two and rookie Grant Calcaterra one.

But Stoll is such an effective blocker at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he stays on the field.

“Listen, I embrace whatever role we need to win,” Stoll said. “Being 7-0? Whatever I can do to help us go get a win is what I do. 

“Being an undrafted guy, it really changes your perspective where every time you’re out there you appreciate all the snaps you get and you don’t take anything for granted. Whether it’s blocking or anything else, just make the most of my opportunities.”

Stoll is averaging 30 snaps per game, which is more than Brandon Graham, Kenny Gainwell or Jordan Davis. He's got two receptions, including a career-long 22-yarder in the win over the Cowboys.

So 99 percent of the time, he's out there blocking his butt off.

“I think it’s definitely progressed,” Stoll said of his blocking. “When you’re learning from someone like Dallas, it’s easy to get better. It’s been one of those deals where it’s awsome just having a year under your belt and coming in the next year and just understanding the scheme so you can pay attention to a lot more of the detail.

“That’s been the biggest thing for me, just paying attention to details in the offense and going from there and it just allows you to react faster. Just keep getting better and better and hopefully that’s what the coaches think, too.”

Stoll is one of only two tight ends in the league who’s averaging 40 percent of his team’s offensive snaps but has two or fewer catches. Marcedes Lewis, a 17-year veteran, has played 41 percent of the Packers’ snaps and has one catch.

Only five tight ends over the last decade have played 40 percent of the snaps and caught fewer than five passes over a full season. The last tight end to do that was C.J. Fiedorowicz of the Texans in 2014 (four catches, 43 percent).

But don’t tell Stoll he can’t catch. He can. He just doesn't get asked to.

“I think it’s been one of those things that’s been developing behind the scenes for a while now,” he said. “So whenever my number’s called, you’re damn right, I’ll be ready.”

Among regular tight ends, Stoll ranks fifth this year as a zone run blocker according to Pro Football Focus, and he ranks 30th as a pass blocker.

“Obviously, it’s probably not the most fun role, and he doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, but he does an excellent job knowing his role and doing his job and perfecting his role,” Goedert said.

“He does the dirty work. Ever since he got here, he was physical, but you can just see the development in his blocking game and route running. The ball is going to come his way eventually. You saw what he was able to do against Dallas. He’s a big part of this team and a big reason we’re having the success that we are.”

Stoll says he embraces his role but doesn’t accept it.

Meaning he loves doing everything he can to help the team win – and this is the No. 3 offense and No. 6 rushing offense in the league – but he'll always want to do more.

“I don’t think it’s ever accepting your role,” he said. “Coach (Nick) Sirianni (says) you embrace your role and do whatever you’re asked to do, but your goal should always be to have that role expand and that’s what I keep doing, going out there and putting good training camp film out there, catching the ball at practice, and hopefully it makes the coaches realize, ‘Hey, we can get him a little bit more involved in the offense and we can get him involved in the passing game a little bit more,’” he said. 

“That’s how I view it. Embracing the role whatever it is but never being satisfied with just that role and always wanting to expand it to where hopefully they’ll realize I’m as valuable in the pass game as I am in the run game. When you’re 7-0 there’s not too many things you can complain about.”

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