Dallas Goedert emerging as big-play threat during Eagles' playoff push

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert showed up to his postgame news conference Tuesday night dressed as Buddy from "Elf" as an homage to one of his favorite movies.

If the Eagles had lost to the Washington Football Team, the costume would have likely ended up in the trash, Goedert said. And it was touch-and-go to start the game after a dropped Goedert pass caromed off the back of his foot and was intercepted by Landon Collins, helping Washington sprint out to a 10-0 lead. But Goedert bounced back in a big way, posting career highs in catches (7) and yards (135) en route to a 27-17 victory. The Eagles now have a 34.2% chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN's Football Power Index.

"I'm glad we won," said Goedert, a 6-foot-5, 246-pound wall of Christmas green. "It makes this whole costume a lot better."

That's debatable. What's not is that Goedert is heating up. He has set personal bests for receiving yards in back-to-back games, racking up 105 yards on six catches against the New York Jets in Week 13. There was some question whether his big night against the Jets was tied to Gardner Minshew being under center for the injured Jalen Hurts. Tuesday's results helped provide an answer.

“I think every game he is out there he gets more and more comfortable. We’ve got a lot of trust in each other, he’s got a lot of trust in himself," Goedert said of Hurts, who threw for 296 yards on 20-of-26 passing with a touchdown and an interception while adding a pair of rushing touchdowns. "Anytime he can stay in the pocket I feel like he does. He does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and when he has to run, he’s one of the most explosive quarterbacks in this league doing that.”

Their 21-yard connection late in the second quarter was evidence of that. With a Washington defender bearing down, Hurts slid to his left and fired the ball toward the sideline, hitting Goedert in stride.

A play earlier in the quarter got the attention of Joe Judge, head coach of the Giants, whom the Eagles (7-7) play Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox). On second-and-9, Hurts tried to squeeze a deep pass to Goedert between a pair of defenders. Goedert elevated and wrestled the ball away from defensive back Jeremy Reaves for a 45-yard gain.

"I think that’s kind of telling a story about this guy as a player. I think he’s a developing player in this league and is far away from what he is going to be," Judge said.

“You look at the tight end position, those guys can really be a security blanket in a lot of ways for quarterbacks -- big targets, good hands, interior passing game. But then also to have a guy that can stretch the field and make plays down the field, that’s really when they become a weapon.”

Goedert, 26, took over as the primary tight end starting Week 7 after Zach Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. Since that time, he ranks second among NFL tight ends in yards per reception (15.6), fourth in first-down receptions (25) and fifth in receiving yards (515), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Hurts has a 71% completion rate when targeting Goedert this season while averaging 10.6 yards per attempt, well above the quarterback's season averages (61.3 completion rate, 7.2 yards per attempt). Goedert is also an above-average blocker, which has played a part in Philly becoming the top rushing team in the league.

Goedert, who was selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft out of South Dakota State, inked a four-year, $57 million extension in November that runs through 2025. His average salary of $14.25 million slots him in just behind San Francisco's George Kittle ($15 million) and Kansas City's Travis Kelce ($14.3 million) and just ahead of Baltimore's Mark Andrews ($14 million). Philadelphia clearly believes Goedert has the ability to become one of the better tight ends in the NFL.

There have been some inconsistencies in his game, as seen in the drop-turned-interception against Washington and another drop later in the contest, but the upside is showing itself more and more of late.

“I’m just out there doing whatever the coaches call. They’ve been calling my number, Jalen’s been finding me, I’ve been winning on my routes, and as the season goes, you just get better, you get more of a feel for what teams are going to do, how they’re going to defend you, ways to attack them," Goedert said. "It’s been progressing throughout the year and hopefully it keeps trending upwards."