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September 11, 2023

Why Dallas Goedert had a weirdly quiet game against the Patriots

And why recent precedent might point to a big week coming up for the Eagles tight end against Minnesota.

As a major piece to the Eagles' passing game, it was bizarre how quiet Dallas Goedert was in Sunday's season opener up in Foxboro.

The sixth-year tight end, who has worked up into arguably one of the best in the NFL at his position and was catching just about everything in camp, didn't register a single reception in the often uneven 25-20 win over the Patriots. A ball didn't even come his way until the 13:26 mark in the fourth quarter, when on a 3rd and 7 from the New England 30, Jalen Hurts sailed one in his general direction over by the left sideline with pressure coming.

But there was never a chance of Goedert catching that as the ball flew way over his outstretched hand. Hurts, if anything, looked like he was just trying to get rid of it without triggering an intentional grounding call so that the field goal unit had a shot.

And that was it, across 66 plays and 30:48 of possession for what was an overall stagnant offense out of the gate, just that lone target.

So what exactly happened there?

Head coach Nick Sirianni gave credit to the Patriots' defense postgame – as they did hold Hurts to just 170 yards passing with the help of some heavy rain – but said that the Eagles can't get away with that again, calling back to that same strange Week 1 precedent that ended up getting set with DeVonta Smith in last season's gameplan against the Lions.

"This reminds me a lot of last year against the Lions," Sirianni said. "Smitty had no catches against the Lions last year. This year, it was Dallas. We can't go a game without getting him the football. He's too good of a playmaker but there are some things that the Patriots did that made it difficult for us to be able to get him some quick, easy touches.

"That happens, and so some of the plays that you think you can get easy touches for your guys quick don't necessarily happen for your backs and tight ends when you play a Patriots-style defense. So again, hats off to them. They made it hard for us to get the ball to our playmakers, and that's what a defense like that usually does is try to take away your good playmakers. So we had to get it to the other guys."

It wasn't like the Patriots completely shut Goedert down though. He did get open, he just never got seen.

A few plays before his only target on a 1st and 10 from the New England 46, Goedert ran a post that left him open across the middle with plenty of space above the linebackers and underneath the safeties, which was evident upon the replay on the CBS broadcast.

The play, however, seemed designed to go to A.J. Brown from the start, as Hurts immediately hurled one toward the end zone with Brown streaking down the sideline but with two defenders on his back – an incompletion on what was always going to be a tough throw to come down with in that scenario.

There was also this in the third quarter:


“A win is a win and that is really tough to do in this league, so I’m really happy with the way everyone played," Goedert said postgame. "The benefit for me is that I get to be in there for run game, and take my frustrations out on the defensive ends and linebackers, so I had a lot of fun playing out there today.

"It was great team win for us and a lot of fun. We got great people all over this field, so maybe next week will be my week, and if not, I'll just keep chopping away until it comes.”

Recent precedent says it will though if you go back to Smith's numbers from Weeks 1 to 2 last season.

Against Detroit, in an opener on the road that the Eagles only won by the skin of their teeth, Smith had no receptions and only four targets on the day.

The next week at home, under the primetime lights of Monday Night Football against Minnesota, he went off, catching all seven of his targets for 80 yards as the Eagles thrashed the Vikings 24-7.

This time around, the Eagles won an opener in New England by the skin of their teeth with an offensive gameplan that Goedert wasn't all that active in, but are now coming home to play under the primetime lights of Thursday Night Football... against the Vikings.

Familiar, no?

And maybe a sign to start Goedert on your fantasy team in a few days.

He might be in for a big week.

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