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The Screen Master: Tight End Dallas Goedert has turned the Eagles’ screen game into a lethal weapon

Dallas Goedert

Photo Credit by John McMullen/JAKIB Sports

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Tight end Dallas Goedert has been a key component of the Eagles’ screen game during their impressive 4-0 start.

Goedert had five catches for 72 yards in Sunday’s 29-21 win over Jacksonville. Four of those receptions and 50 of those 72 yards came on screens.

Goedert has 16 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ first four games. Eight of those receptions and 104 of those yards have come on screens. That’s 13.0 yards per catch on screens. That includes a 23-yard touchdown catch in the Eagles’ 24-8 Week 3 win over Washington.

Last year, Goedert had just 10 receptions on screens the entire season, averaging 8.9 yards per screen. The Eagles mainly used their wide receivers and running backs on the 64 screens they ran in Nick Sirianni’s first year as head coach.

Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins combined for 23 catches on screens. Running backs Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott combined for 20.

“He’s so strong and powerful and he’s got great vision,’’ Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said when asked about Goedert’s screen-play prowess. “He’s got great vision as a runner.

“He knows when (center Jason) Kelce gets out there and those [other] guys get out there [to block]. Those blocks get set up and he sees it well. And he’s so strong after the catch. He’s hard to take down.’’

Goedert is averaging 15.0 yards per catch overall this season, which is the most in the league by a tight end. He’s also averaging 13.0 yards after the catch, which is the most by any tight end or wide receiver.

The Eagles have run 17 screen plays in their first four games and are averaging 8.1 yards per attempt. That’s 1.6 yards per attempt better than they averaged on screens last year.

This defense doesn’t rest

–Since giving up 35 points to the Lions in Week 1, the Eagles have held their last three opponents to a total of 36 points and an average of 241 net yards per game. Even with the 35 points they gave up to Detroit, they still are 10th in the league in points allowed (17.8 per game).

–After forcing just 16 turnovers last season, the Eagles already have 10 in their first four games, including five last week against slippery-handed Trevor Lawrence and Jacksonville. They are tied for first with the Ravens in takeaways and also are first in turnover differential (plus-8). The last time the Eagles had a positive turnover differential in a season was 2017 (plus-11, fourth best in the league that year).

–The Eagles are third in total defense. They’ve held opponents to 277.3 yards per game. That’s 51.5 yards per game better than they allowed last year when they finished 10th.

–What a difference a year makes. The Eagles had just 29 sacks last season, which was their fewest since the league made quarterback sacks an official statistic 40 years ago. Through four games this season, they have a league-high 16 sacks. They already have four players with at least 2 ½ sacks – Haason Reddick (3 ½), Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham (both with 3), and Josh Sweat (2 ½). Last year, they had three players with 2 ½ or more sacks the entire season.

–Last season, linebacker T.J. Edwards rushed the passer a total of 15 times and had one sack and three total quarterback pressures. In the first four games this season, he’s already rushed 14 times and has two sacks and eight total pressures. The Eagles’ other linebacker, Kyzir White, has rushed 11 times. He doesn’t have any pressures.

–The Eagles blitzed Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence seven times on 27 pass plays Sunday (25.9%). Lawrence was 3-for-7 for 34 yards with a touchdown and an interception when defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon sent extra rushers. In the first four games, the Eagles have blitzed on 37 of 165 pass plays (22.4%). They’ve been very effective with it. Opposing QBs have a 37.1 completion percentage, are averaging a puny 3.4 yards per attempt, have thrown three interceptions, and been sacked twice when the Eagles have sent extra rushers. Twenty-eight of the Eagles’ 37 blitzes have been with five rushers. They’ve sent six rushers five times and seven rushers four times.

–The Eagles are doing a much better job against tight ends this season. Tight ends have just 16 catches for 149 yards (9.3 yards per catch) and one touchdown against them. Last year, tight ends had 102 receptions for 999 yards (9.8 yards per catch). Thirteen of the 28 touchdown passes that the defense gave up last year were to tight ends.

–The Eagles have given up just five touchdown passes this season and have allowed just 5.5 yards per pass attempt. They’re tied for first with the Cowboys for yards allowed per attempt and are second in opponent passer rating (69.2). That’s a dramatic improvement over last year when they finished 23rd in opponent passer rating (95.4).

–Gannon smartly continues to limit Brandon Graham’s snaps. Graham is 34 and coming off an Achilles tear. He’s played just 41.3% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps (105 of 254) in the first four games. By comparison, Josh Sweat has played 63.8% (162). Fewer snaps haven’t meant less production, though, for Graham. He is tied for second on the team in sacks (3) with Fletcher Cox, and is tied for second in total pressures with Sweat (11), just one behind Cox, who has played 45 more snaps than Graham.

–The defense has allowed just eight pass plays of 20 or more yards in the first four games. That’s the third-fewest in the league, behind the 49ers and Cowboys, who have allowed six. They’ve only given up one 20-plus-yard run. That was Lions running back D’Andre Swift’s 50-yard run against them in Week 1. In the last three games, the Eagles have given up just two runs of 15 yards or more – a 17-yarder to the Vikings’ Jalen Reagor and a 15-yarder to Washington’s Curtis Samuel.

What’s up with third down?

–The Eagles have converted just nine of 30 third-down opportunities (30.0%) in the last two games after converting 17 of 30 (56.7%) in the first two games.

–They’re 1-for-12 on third downs of seven yards or more in the last two games. While they are eighth in overall third-down efficiency this season (43.3%), they are 24th on third-and-seven-plus (18.2%), converting just four of 22 opportunities.

–Jalen Hurts has completed just 6 of 14 third-down pass attempts in the last two games for 75 yards. That’s just 5.3 yards per attempt. In the first two games, he was 12-for-16 for 182 yards (11.4 yards per attempt) on third down.

Ground and pound

–The Eagles ran the ball 50 times against the Jaguars. That equaled the most rushing attempts in a game by the Birds in the last 35 years. They also had 50 rushing attempts last season against New Orleans and in 1997 against Washington. The last time they had more than that was in 1987 when they ran the ball 52 times in a 17-7 win over Buffalo.

–With 50 of the Eagles’ 77 plays against Jacksonville being runs, their run-play percentage jumped to 53.6. That’s the third-highest run percentage in the league, behind only Atlanta (55.5) and Chicago (62.1). The Eagles lead the league in rushing attempts per game (38.2). They were second last year, averaging 32.3 carries per game.

–Miles Sanders is third in the league in rushing with 356 yards, behind the Giants’ Saquon Barkley (463) and the Browns’ Nick Chubb (459).

–Sanders’ 134 rushing yards against the Jaguars were a career-high. So were his 27 rushing attempts. In the Eagles’ last seven regular-season games dating back to 2021, Sanders has rushed for 652 yards and is averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

–Sanders has 18 rushing first downs, which are the third most in the league, behind Chubb (21) and the Falcons’ Cordarrelle Patterson (19). He has 11 runs of 10 yards or more, which is tied for the fourth most in the league behind Chubb (15), Barkley (12), and the Packers’ Aaron Jones (also 12).

More good stat stuff

–The Eagles are the 32nd team since 2012 to get off to a 4-0 start. Just four of the previous 31 failed to make the playoffs. Eight made it to the Super Bowl and three raised the Lombardi Trophy.

–The Eagles ran 77 plays against Jacksonville. Seventy-one of them were out of shotgun. Three of the six plays from under center were Jalen Hurts kneel-downs at the end of the game. Through four games, 251of the Eagles’ 285 offensive plays (88.1%) have been out of shotgun. Just one team has used shotgun more than the Eagles. That’s their opponent this week, the Arizona Cardinals, who have been in shotgun a league-high 95 percent of the time.

–The Eagles have scored 115 points in their first four games. Eighty-five of them have been in the second quarter. Last year, they scored 104 points in the second quarter the entire season. Jalen Hurts has a 132.1 passer rating in the second quarter, compared to 76.6 in the first quarter, 95.8 in the third quarter, and 47.9 in the fourth quarter. He’s averaging 11.2 yards per attempt in the second quarter, and has thrown all four of his touchdown passes in the second quarter.

–Through four games, the Eagles have turned the ball over just twice, both on interceptions. They’re tied with the Cowboys for the fewest giveaways in the league. Last year, their 16 turnovers were the league’s fifth-fewest.

–Fifty-three of the Eagles’ 77 plays against Jacksonville (68.8%) were with 11 personnel (1RB,1TE,3WR). For the season, 206 of their 285 plays (72.3%) have been with 11P. They are averaging 4.8 yards per carry with 11P. Sanders is averaging 5.7 out of three-wide receiver sets. Jalen Hurts is averaging 9.5 yards per attempt and has a 68.4 completion percentage with 11P.

–Six of the Eagles’ 14 offensive touchdowns have come on drives of 80 yards or more.

–The Eagles are tied for the most pass plays of 30 yards or more. They have eight and are on pace for 34. They were 26th last year with 14. They also have the fourth most runs of 10 yards or more (20).

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