Dallas Goedert is expected to return to action on Sunday night against the Cowboys after missing the last three games with a forearm fracture.
And his teammates are excited.
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“And that’s not a knock on our guys, our next-man-up mentality,” left tackle Jordan Mailata explained. “But when you have a guy that’s as consistent as Dallas Goedert, you miss him. Has he been missed? Hell f—ing yeah. Is it evident? Hell f—ing yeah.”
There’s no question that the Eagles have missed Goedert’s contributions in both the pass and run game over the last three weeks.
The good news is that Goedert on Wednesday said the likelihood of his return this week is “very high” after he didn’t play against the 49ers. He was doubtful heading into last weekend but began this week as a full participant.
“Dallas in Dallas has a ring to it,” Goedert said. “Really glad I’m able to go and kind of put everything else to bed and get out there and play football again.”
In Goedert’s absence, the Eagles used their other tight ends — Jack Stoll, Albert Okwuegbunam, Grant Calcaterra and Noah Togiai — but also mixed up their personnel packages and ran more 10 personnel (four wide receivers) than they had all year.
It’s not a knock on any of the Eagles’ depth tight ends, but they’re not Goedert. The 28-year-old has earned his reputation as one of the best dual-threat tight ends in the NFL and it’s his versatility that makes him such a threat.
“We’ve missed him in the pass game but we’ve missed him in the run game too,” Mailata said. “People don’t know what we’re doing when he’s in the game because he’s so good in the run game. He is a threat. He’s basically another O-lineman. An O-lineman who is eligible to catch the ball if we run play actions, if we run screens. Just that element of surprise that teams have to account for.”
In terms of the passing offense, the Eagles have never hid their strategy to run it through A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Goedert. Without Goedert, they didn’t really have anyone step into that role as a third option.
They got sporadic plays from Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, Julio Jones and Stoll, but they didn’t have that consistent threat. The other tight ends on the roster saw a total of 5 targets and ended up with just 2 catches for 17 yards in the three games Goedert has missed.
Brown on Wednesday said that watching film of the past three games it has been very easy to see how differently defenses have been playing the Eagles without Goedert available. Brown got a big smile when asked about Goedert’s likely return this weekend.
“It’s going to help us out tremendously,” Brown said. “I’m glad he’s back. He worked his tail off to get back. It’s going to take a lot of pressure of me, of course. I’m glad he’s back.”
Goedert on Wednesday said that he will be ready to play as much as the Eagles ask him to on Sunday, despite not playing since suffering the injury back on Nov. 5. That’s a long layoff but since Goedert’s injury was a broken forearm, he was still able to run and work out on the stationary bike so he feels like his conditioning is strong.
Goedert’s injury came in the first meeting with the Cowboys when linebacker Markquese Bell tackled him by the arm at the end of a big run. Goedert said there was nothing dirty on the play from Bell and thinks it was just a fluke injury.
On a mic’d up segment during the first Cowboys game, Goedert mentioned that he might not stiff-arm anymore. But he walked that back on Wednesday, saying he’ll still run the same but will make sure to pull his arm out faster to avoid future injury.
That’s probably a good idea. Goedert is pretty important to the offense.
“Any time you lose a player like Dallas like we've been without for a little bit here, you're going to be affected,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “Especially with Dallas, he's such a good player. Why is he one of the better tight ends in the NFL? Because he's really good in the run game and he's really good in the pass game.
“Now the guys have done a good job of filling in for him with Jack and Albert and Grant and Noah. They've done a good job of filling in for him, but Dallas is who he is because he's a really good player. We'll see how this week goes if we get him back.”