Eagles observations: One way to help make up for loss of Dallas Goedert

Roob's Observations: One way to help make up for loss of Goedert originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

One way the Eagles can soften the loss of Dallas Goedert, a ridiculous Chauncey Gardner-Johnson stat and one player the Eagles should use more.

It’s a Week 11 edition of Roob’s Random Eagles Observations, and it’s free!

1. How do you replace Dallas Goedert? You don’t. And you certainly don’t with just Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra and Tyree Jackson, although those three young tight ends are all promising. Every skill guy on the Eagles’ roster needs to be a part of helping the Eagles manage without Goedert, and one way to do that is start throwing to the running backs, something this offense hasn’t done.

Eagles RBs have a combined 94 receiving yards this year, fewest in the NFL. That’s 50 for Kenny Gainwell, 42 for Miles Sanders, 2 for Boston Scott. The thing is, those guys have all been productive receivers. Sanders caught 50 passes for over 500 yards as a rookie. Gainwell was 4th among rookie running backs with over 250 receiving yards last year. Scott had over 400 receiving yards combined in 2019 and 2020. Hurts needs underneath answers when he’s blitzed or the pocket breaks down or it’s 3rd-and-5 and nobody’s open down the field, and he’s always been able to count on Goedert getting open, catching everything and moving the sticks.

The Eagles have such a rich history of elite receiving backs, from Timmy Brown to Keith Byars to Ricky Watters to Duce Staley to Brian Westbrook to LeSean McCoy. This team could use a little of that mojo. They’re currently on pace for their fewest receiving yards from the running backs since 1944. Throws to the backs are easy, high-percentage throws, and involving the backs over these next few weeks would help make life without Goedert a little bit easier.

2. Here’s a good way to understand just how valuable Goedert is: He’s been targeted 53 times this year and has 43 catches. The rest of the Eagles’ skill guys have 201 targets and 138 catches. So Goedert is catching 81 percent of his targets and averaging 10.3 yards per target, and everyone else is catching 69 percent of their targets and averaging 8.4 yards per target. Not a knock on the other guys because they’ve been really good. Just shows how efficient and productive Goedert has been.

3. The only players in the Eagles’ main defensive rotation who are signed beyond this year are Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Haason Reddick, Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Milton Williams and Jordan Davis.

4. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson had five interceptions in his first 47 career games and six in his last five games.

5. Crazy that if all goes well, by the stretch run, the Eagles will have Javon Hargrave, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph, Milton Williams and Fletcher Cox lining up at defensive tackle. What’s really wild is that all of them except Joseph can line up on the edge as well.

6. Going into the Washington game, Darius Slay had the 2nd-lowest defensive passer rating in the league at 37.2 (behind only James Bradberry’s 35.9). He had limited 41 targets to 19 completions, 186 yards and 4.5 yards per target. On Monday night, he allowed six completions for 104 yards on eight targets and a 116.7 passer rating. That means 36 percent of the yards he’s allowed this year came against Washington. That 37.2 passer rating jumped to 50.6, still 4th-best in the league. His 116.7 rating was Slay’s worst since he had a 138.5 in the Eagles’ loss to the Chargers last November at the Linc. Bad day at the office for one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks.

7. The Eagles haven’t had a rushing attempt of 40 yards in their last 30 games, since Miles Sanders’ 82-yard run against the Saints in December 2020. Only the Commanders (37 games), Steelers (40 games) and Dolphins (61 games) have gone longer without a run of at least 40 yards. Yet, the Eagles have the 7th-highest rushing average in the NFL during that span at 4.7 yards per carry.

8. Weird how Jake Elliott never gets to kick field goals. He’s just 6-for-8 this year, and he hasn’t made a field goal in over a month. Heck, Cameron Dicker has made more field goals than Elliott, and he’s only played three games. The Eagles’ eight field goals and 10 attempts are both the fewest in the NFL this year and Eagles’ fewest through nine games since 1998, when their offense was so bad they barely ever made it across midfield.

It’s a positive that the Eagles are finishing a high percentage of red-zone drives with touchdowns, but it’s weird that they have this Pro Bowler on the bench who’s become almost an afterthought. Elliott’s two misses this year were a block and a 54-yarder. He’s still one of the best in the league, even though we rarely get to see it.

9. That was obviously an unfortunate fumble, but I still think Quez Watkins is an under-utilized weapon. As rarely as he’s used – just 17 targets all year - Watkins is still one of only 11 players in the NFL with two 50-yard catches this year. As well as Jalen Hurts throws the deep ball, I’d like to see a couple mid-range or deep balls to Quez per game.

10. JALEN HURTS STAT OF THE WEEK: Hurts is only the fourth quarterback in Eagles history with three consecutive games of 65 percent accuracy and two touchdown passes. Carson Wentz did it twice and Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb once each.