The Philadelphia Eagles pounded their way to a playoff spot behind the best rushing attack in football last season. Their run-heavy offense was unapologetically dominant in 2021, leading the NFL in total rushing yards (2,715) and rushing yards per game (159.7).
If those numbers look good, they should. The Eagles were historically good on the ground and set a single-season franchise record for rushing yards. It stands to reason the team would stick to the same gameplan in 2022, but the addition of A.J. Brown – coupled with the return of play-making tight end Dallas Goedert and reliable receiver DeVonta Smith – could make them flip the script.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has legitimate weapons all over the field, none bigger than the 6-foot-5, 256-pound Goedert. The $57 million rising star is ready to fully shed the shadow of former starter Zach Ertz who was sent to Arizona at last year’s trade deadline. Goedert isn’t banking on more targets in 2022, but he’s cautiously optimistic about the Eagles morphing into a more pass-friendly offense.
“You know, maybe we’ll be throwing the ball a little bit more,” Goedert told reporters, with a huge grin on his face. “No, I’m not too worried about my targets. I don’t think Smitty [Smith] is too worried about his targets. I don’t think A.J. [Brown] is too worried about his targets.
“I think collectively we all want to win games and we’re willing to do whatever it takes. He [Brown] came from a heavy run game [in Tennessee]. We were a heavy run team last year, so I don’t think anyone is too worried about it. We’re just worried about getting better in this time and when the time comes to worry about that, it’ll be time to worry about that.”
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J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Transitioning to Tight End
Goedert was asked to talk about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s unexpected transition to tight end. The two players actually share the same sports agency and worked out together earlier this offseason in California. He sees the 2019 second-rounder as an asset to the tight ends room.
“It’s cool to have him in the room,” Goedert said. “It’s a new body, a new person to ask questions, you just get better detail with a new person because you have to explain it more so I’m really excited for him, excited to see how he embraces the role and excited to see what he can do.”
The hardest part for Arcega-Whiteside will be picking up the blocking schemes and offensive line calls, according to Goedert. He’s not concerned about the Stanford University graduate picking it up. He was a National Honor Society member, an international relations major who is fluent in three different languages.
“I don’t think he’ll have any problem,” Goedert said. “He went to Stanford.”
Not Setting Any Personal Goals, Except One
The decision to trade Ertz and hand Goedert a long-term deal proved the Eagles were committed to the fourth-year player. He finished with 830 yards on 56 receptions and four touchdowns in 2021. He made 14 starts after starting the year as a part-time starter, then took over for good once Ertz left town. This year, Goedert doesn’t have to look over his shoulder and he’s embracing his new leadership role.
“I was really excited to be here for four more years,” Goedert said. “Yea, my leadership role without Zach is definitely growing.”
That being said, Goedert doesn’t want to set any personal goals. That’s because he isn’t convinced that the offense will be more pass-heavy in 2022. However, the physical tight end from South Dakota State admitted he would like to hit “100 receptions and 1,000 yards.”
“I’m not really one that sets personal goals,” Goedert said. “It’s a team game and everything relies on so much that if you set receptions or yards and stuff like that, and you become a running team and you don’t throw the ball as much, you might get upset but you’re winning games.
“So really for me, it’s just to win games and be the best I can be. Each day I want to improve. I want to win my 1-on-1 matchups every play. So for me it’s more worrying about the small details day in and day out, getting better every day, being great on the day it is.”