If Dallas Goedert’s rookie season was any indication, he has the potential to be one of the NFL’s next great tight ends. Unfortunately for him, he is currently second on the Philadelphia Eagles depth chart behind a player who has already reached that level: Zach Ertz. Last season, Ertz led the NFL in receptions by a tight end. He was also third among tight ends in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Ertz’s success and experience meant that Goedert was forced to take a lesser role, even though he performed at a similar level. However, Goedert showed enough promise that, in the future, he should receive a larger share of the targets.
Tight end duo’s bizarrely similar statistics
On the football field, Goedert and Ertz are often difficult to tell apart. The two players are the almost the same size (Goedert is an inch shorter and 10 pounds heavier). Considering the fact that they also wear very similar numbers, I wouldn’t blame anyone who confused one tight end for the other. And they looked similar on a stat sheet as well. Ertz received almost triple the number of targets that Goedert did, so his raw statistics were significantly larger. However, the two tight ends had virtually identical per-reception statistics. Goedert’s 75% catch percentage was only slightly higher than Ertz’s 74.4%. The same is true of their yards per reception; Goedert averaged 10.1, and Ertz averaged 10.0.
These statistics mean that, if you extrapolated Goedert’s statistics over the same number of receptions that Ertz had, the two would have almost the same number of yards. Estimating statistics in this manner is slightly hit-or-miss. Touchdowns, for example, are almost impossible to predict in this way. Even the most consistent players will have dry spells, because touchdowns are in part a matter of being in the right place, at the right time. That said, Goedert was on pace to have a similar level of production to Ertz, albeit with a much smaller sample size.
Goedert and Ertz’s OSM Grades
Goedert and Ertz also had very similar PFN Offensive Share Metric (OSM) grades. These grades take into account only what the player had direct control over. For example, because the Eagles used two different quarterbacks over the course of the season, this might have affected how much work each tight end needed to do. If Carson Wentz threw more catchable passes than Nick Foles did, and he threw to Ertz more often, this might negatively affect Goedert’s statistics. The OSM grading system looks at a player’s performance while excluding these mitigating factors.
And both Goedert and Ertz received high grades. For reference, the highest graded tight end during the 2018 season was Kyle Rudolph, who received a grade of 40. Goedert and Ertz were close behind, with grades of 39 and 37, respectively. These grades once again put both players in the upper echelon of tight ends in the NFL, showing that Goedert and Ertz both did everything they could with what was provided with them.
What should the Eagles do about this problem?
The similarities between Goedert and Ertz put the Eagles in an interesting position. On most other teams, Goedert would already be the starting tight end. But because of Ertz, Philadelphia needs to find a way to split targets between the two of them. In many ways, this is a good problem to have. Most teams in the NFL would love to have even one tight end of that caliber, let alone two. But something clearly needs to change. In 2018, Goedert was tied for fourth on the team in targets with Golden Tate. And Tate only joined the Eagles halfway through the season. Meanwhile, Ertz was targeted almost 60 more times than anyone else on the roster.
Considering how similar Goedert and Ertz appear to be, the fact that Ertz received 112 more targets over the course of the season is rather astounding. Goedert was a rookie last season, so perhaps limiting his targets was reasonable. However, it would be strange to continue this trend going forward. Instead, it would make more sense to decrease the target disparity between the two tight ends.
Both Goedert and Ertz would benefit from this change. Goedert would gain the chance to put his skills on display, and Ertz would reduce the amount of wear and tear on his body, which would lower the likelihood that he would suffer from multiple significant injuries in the same way that Rob Gronkowski did. And the Eagles would benefit as a team as well. They would be able to maximize the longevity of one of their best players while giving a young player with a lot of potential the opportunities he deserves. It’s a win-win-win situation, one that Philadelphia should definitely take advantage of.