PHILADELPHIA − For the second time in 18 months, Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert has a rooting interest, not to mention a betting partner, in a playoff matchup Saturday between his alma mater South Dakota State and the University of Delaware.
Back in May 2021, when the two schools met in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs, Goedert and former Eagles backup quarterback Joe Flacco, who starred at UD, had bragging rights at stake. That didn't go well for Flacco and the Blue Hens, who lost 33-3.
This time, when UD travels to Brookings, South Dakota, to take on the Jackrabbits in the Round of 16, Goedert is placing a bet with Delaware native Brian O'Neill, a Pro Bowl right tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.
"I would say no shot," Goedert said when asked if the Hens had any chance of winning. "The last time (SDSU) played Delaware, we beat them pretty handily. I’m expecting similar results. We got a pretty good team at SDSU, so, hopefully, we can roll them."
The Jackrabbits (10-1) are the top-seeded team in the field of 24. Their only loss was to an FBS school, the University of Iowa 7-3. SDSU had a first-round bye while UD (8-4) beat Saint Francis 56-17 last Saturday at Delaware Stadium.
O'Neill didn't attend Delaware, but he grew up in the First State and starred at Salesianum before going on to the University of Pittsburgh. And as Goedert said, O'Neill "takes his home (state) seriously."
O'Neill and Goedert became close friends leading up to the 2018 draft as they are represented by the same agency. They were each drafted in the second round. The two, along with Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox, who was close friends with O'Neill at Pitt, live and train with each other during the offseason in California.
Goedert starred at South Dakota State from 2014-17, leading all FCS tight ends in receptions and yards over his final two seasons with 164 and 2,404, respectively.
He has continued that production with the Eagles. Goedert has 43 catches for 544 yards this season, but he has missed the last two games after injuring his shoulder Nov. 14 against the Washington Commanders when he was pulled down by the facemask − an infraction that wasn't called.
It happened in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 32-21 loss. At the time, the Eagles were trailing by two points. Goedert ended up fumbling on the play, giving Washington a first down at the Eagles' 34. The Commanders got a field goal to take a five-point lead.
The Eagles couldn't get any closer.
"Whether they called the penalty or not, it doesn’t fix the injury," Goedert said. "So it’s a bummer to get injured, but it’s part of the game. ... Obviously, I would have liked to have (the penalty called) so I wouldn’t have that fumble on my statistics. It’s one of those things. The game moves so fast; it’s hard to be a ref. But yeah, ultimately, it would’ve been nice not to have a fumble this year."
The Eagles placed Goedert on injured reserve the next day. He's eligible to return Dec. 18 against the Chicago Bears after missing the required four games. Goedert said he plans to be ready then, and that his shoulder is healing nicely.
In fact, Goedert wasn't thrilled with going on IR in the first place.
"Just counting down the days until they can take me off IR," Goedert said. "I told (general manager Howie Roseman), 'Man, you shouldn’t have put me on (IR).'"
Goedert was inferring that he might have returned before the four games if he stayed on the 53-man roster. He added that there's no damage to the labrum or his rotator cuff, so surgery was not needed. He was not wearing any kind of shoulder harness in the locker room Wednesday.
Goedert has spent the past few weeks rehabbing his shoulder, talking to the tight ends who are replacing him in Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra and Tyree Jackson.
The Eagles, of course, don't have a tight end who can replace Goedert's production as a receiver. But Goedert said Stoll's blocking in particular helped pave the way for the Eagles to amass 363 yards rushing against the Packers in the Eagles' 40-33 win Sunday night.
It was the most yards rushing by the Eagles since they had 376 yards against Washington in 1948.
"They’ve been killing it," Goedert said about the tight ends. "Jack (Stoll) has been doing an excellent job in the run game. They haven’t got their opportunities in the pass game very much. But any time we can run for darn near 400 yards, you know somebody has been doing a good job."
Goedert, meanwhile, has been biding his time, waiting to get back on the field. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said after the 17-16 win against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 20 that Goedert was "probably screaming at the TV, going crazy."
Goedert confirmed that. And he'll probably be doing the same thing Saturday watching his Jackrabbits against Delaware.
"It’s going to be fun to watch," Goedert said. "This is the one thing I think that FCS has over the FBS, is the 24-team playoffs. It makes it fun. ... I'm really excited, and I hope we can get our first national championship."
Of course, Delaware indirectly had a hand in keeping SDSU from winning that elusive title. The Jackrabbits lost the title game in the spring of 2021 to Sam Houston, coached by former UD coach K.C. Keeler. Keeler's offensive coordinator was current UD coach Ryan Carty.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Eagles' Dallas Goedert: Delaware has 'not shot' vs SDSU in FCS playoff