January 26, 2023
Sunday will be a matchup of "bests" at Lincoln Financial Field. It'll be the best two teams in the NFC between the Eagles and 49ers, the best two coaches in Nick Sirianni and Kyle Shanahan, and the best two defenses. Looking at the two tight ends in this game and, clearly, these are the best two tight ends in the conference as well.
Dallas Goedert had yet another strong playoff showing in the Birds' divisional-round win over the Giants, scoring a touchdown on the game's opening drive with a highlight-worthy one-handed catch. Here are his stats in his last three postseason games:
|Category||2019 WC||2021 WC||2022 Divisional|
Not bad for a guy who wasn't a full-time starter until the middle of the 2021 season.
On the opposite sideline stands the 49ers' George Kittle, a four-time Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2019. The consensus is that Kittle is a top-two tight end in this league behind Kansas City's Travis Kelce, who's on the fast track to Canton. I get that, but the gap between Kittle and Goedert, who'd I comfortably list as the league's No. 3 tight end, is much closer than the gap between Kelce and Kittle.
Speaking to reporters at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, Goedert was asked if he should be discussed among the league's best at his position, particularly Kelce and Kittle.
"I thought I should've been mentioned in that breath ever since I was a rookie, but that's the self-confidence that I have in myself," Goedert replied. "But it doesn't bother me whether people think it or not. I don't really worry too much about other people's thoughts. Obviously, the people in this building think really highly of me and that's ultimately who I'm playing for."
So... does Goedert actually compare well to Kittle?
The raw numbers aren't there in Goedert's case. Given that Goedert spent the first three-and-a-half years of his career as TE2 in the Eagles' offense behind Super Bowl hero Zach Ertz, Goedert has fewer targets and snaps than Kittle. The volume just isn't there. Goedert was likely on his way to a Second-Team All-Pro nod this year (behind Kelce, of course), before going down with a shoulder injury after an egregious face mask no-call against Washington.
In the first nine games of 2022, Goedert had 43 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns. Kittle, who missed the first two weeks of San Francisco's season with a groin injury, recorded 36 catches for 450 yards and four touchdowns in his first nine games. Kittle, however, remained healthy throughout the rest of the season to finish with 60-765-11. It's a woulda/coulda/shoulda situation, but I'm confident Goedert would've crushed those reception and receiving yard totals. The TD numbers, however, wouldn't be there in an Eagles offense that has two top-10 wideouts and runs the ball so frequently in the red zone with Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders.
Goedert beats Kittle when it comes to efficiency though.
Let's look at some rate stats over the last two seasons, since 2021 is when Goedert became the Eagles' true TE1.
They're pretty even at worst there and you might actually have to give Goedert the edge. More likely than not, if you throw the ball Goedert's way, he's going to be a first-down machine.
Despite the fun of comparisons like this and Goedert's claim that he's up there against anyone, Goedert and Kittle are close off the field.
"Me and George are good friends. We talk back and forth. After the games this weekend, talking about how excited we are to see each other," Goedert said on Wednesday.
Many of the league's top tight ends get together in the offseason to work out together. That's "Tight End U" for you.
"He's a tremendous athlete," Goedert continued. "He's going to go out there and he's not going to let anyone beat you, run full speed right through your face... George does a great job of that, playing super physical. He's fast. He's strong. He's got all the intangibles as well."
How about this: Whoever has the bigger game on Sunday can hold down the "best non-Kelce tight end in the NFL" mantle?
Maybe Philadelphia is in for a superhero-like performance from Goedert against the Niners:
Dallas Goedert wore a suit jacket w/ a lining that featured Captain America, Catwoman & others on it Saturday.— shamus (@shamus_clancy) January 26, 2023
Dallas on the jacket:
“I just really like the design of it. I like the superheroes & then I felt like it goes good with what we have going here with ‘The Batmans.’” pic.twitter.com/PwLDAzcu5V
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