By Michael Donovan
Eagles fans can take pride in another top draft pick who is contributing right away.
Tight end Dallas Goedert had a big night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, just as Derek Barnett got off to a solid start as the top pick in 2017.
Goedert ran a strong route to the goal line, eluded defenders, and was wide open for a 15-yard strike from scrambling quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the second quarter.
“It was really cool,” Goedert told reporters in the locker room after the game. “The whole team was there pretty quick. The guy tackled me in the end zone. And just celebrating with my teammates, Nate was pretty happy, and just celebrating with all the O-lineman, all the wide receivers, (Zach) Ertz and (Richard) Rodgers and other tight ends came in and supported me, so that was really cool.”
With Ertz not dressing, Goedert lined up as the primary tight end for the Eagles’ first-team offense. He finished as the team’s second-leading receiver with 66 yards on four catches and a touchdown in only one half on the field. Not a bad debut.
“I thought I did pretty well,” Goedert said. “There are obviously things I need to improve on. But that’s what you expect for your first game. … It was kind of what I expected and what we’ve been practicing. Obviously, players are fast out there, hits are hard, but it was fun.”
“I wanted to feature him a little bit,” head coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “We were very vanilla, obviously, on offense. But at the same time, just wanted to get him into a little bit of a rhythm, he and Nate. He did some nice things for us. He’s going to be a great addition to our offense and offensive package. Excited for his future and what he can provide offensively.”
Sudfeld’s first completion of the game was a 26-yard pass to Goedert on the Eagles’ second possession. Goedert said that catch helped him settle into his first game, despite having one drop on a short pass later in the drive.
“It was a pretty good play that we have,” Goedert said. “I was able to sell it and get open, and Nate saw me so credit to him and credit to the O-line for giving him the time to do that.”
Goedert had another big play, a 27-yard pass in the second quarter, that set up his eventual touchdown. In addition to his receiving, Goedert was also tasked with blocking on several plays, something he said he had not done much in college and learned in the spring and summer this year.
“I think I did pretty well in blocking,” Goedert said. “Like I said before, I need to improve on it, but that’s kind of with everything in the game. After the first game, I need to see things a little bit faster, but I feel like I did pretty well.”
Goedert made an especially important block when the Eagles were stuck at their 2-yard on the second possession in the first quarter. His block in the end zone on the left side of the line against Steelers cornerback Artie Burns opened a hole for running back Jay Ajayi, who ran 22 yards and got the offense away from the goal line.
“He’s really done a nice job,” Pederson said. “He’s a willing participant to block. You’ve just got to continue to trust his technique, trust the coaching, and the way Justin (Peelle, tight ends coach) is teaching. Continue to just get stronger. It’s good to see him stick his face in there and be physical with defensive and outside linebackers. He’ll continue to get better.”