The Falcons and Eagles game will feature two of the best tight end duos in the NFL — Kyle Pitts-Hayden Hurst and Zach Ertz–Dallas Goedert. Nobody quite knows what each offense’s passing attack will look like, but you can certainly believe these duos will be a large part of game plans.
In the past three seasons, Goedert has hauled in 137 catches for 1,465 yards and 12 touchdowns in 42 games. He’s been incredibly effective as a second option behind Ertz, who has recorded 240 receptions for 2,414 yards and 15 touchdowns over that same three-year period — 377 total catches, 3,879 yards, and 27 touchdowns over that three-year period between the pair.
Ertz is sometimes forgotten because of the Eagles’ recent turmoil, but he’s been one of the best at his position. Over the past two years, he’s averaged 48.1 yards per game, which is sixth-most in the NFL among tight ends. That number would be even higher, but Ertz had a down 2020 season given the team’s disastrous situation with Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz. I would expect Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen to attack the middle of the field with these two productive tight ends.
Obviously, Pitts is a rookie, but Hurst is entering his second season in Atlanta after recording 57 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns last year.
With such imposing receiving threats at tight end, both of these offenses will use a variety of personnel packages — 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs, two WRs), 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, three WRs), 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE, two WRs), and 13 personnel (one RB, three TEs, one WR).
Arthur Smith’s offense will attack defenses horizontally just as much as it does vertically because Kyle Pitts can run any route and is as dangerous before the catch as he is afterward. With such an incredible talent as Pitts, Hurst gets forgotten but shouldn’t be. He’s going to be an underrated player in Atlanta’s offense. Reports coming out of training camp suggest he’s in the best mental and physical shape since entering the league. Hurst also publically stated how excited he is about the offense, which will feature a lesser-known side of his game by threatening the defense vertically.
The combination of Hurst and Pitts is going to be a formidable duo in 2021, but the future is unknown as the front office declined the former’s fifth-year option. It is possible that Terry Fontenot believes he can bring Hurst back on a more team-friendly deal, whether that be total or guaranteed money. Similarly in Philly, Ertz and Goedert are looking for new deals and are scheduled to hit free agency this offseason. There’s still time for Ertz to work out a new contract, as both sides have shown a willingness recently to get something done, but Goedert might hit free agency.
These defensive coordinators will have their hands full, but Dean Pees is better equipped to defend Ertz and Goedert. Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, and Mykal Walker are as capable as any to matchup with these bid-bodied receiving targets man-to-man. While Jonathan Gannon will have to get creative in defending Pitts and Hurst because his linebackers are nothing more than journeymen-caliber players.