It all came together this season for Zach Ertz and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Although the question remains unanswered where a season with sudden Super Bowl dreams will end for Philadelphia, Zach found out this week that his success this season, as a byproduct of the Eagles’ high-flying offense, has landed him a spot in his first Pro Bowl, as a starter. He is Philadelphia’s first Pro Bowl tight end since Chad Lewis in 2002.
No. 86 has enjoyed a breakout season in his fifth year in the NFL. Through 12 games, he’s recording hauled in 63 passes, accounting for 719 yards through the air and a career-high eight touchdowns. Those numbers all rank in the top five among tight ends, and his eight touchdowns have already doubled his previous career best of four with two games remaining.
Much of that success can be attributed to the connection between Zach and Eagles second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. The 2017 season marked the first time in his career that No. 86 went into a season alongside the same quarterback he began the previous season under.
While Wentz was healthy, the chemistry between the second-year quarterback and his tight end helped make Philadelphia the best red zone offense in the league this season, with a touchdown percentage of 67.3 from inside the 20-yard line. Wentz was also named a Pro Bowl starter on Tuesday night after leading the voting wire-to-wire at each of their positions. Wentz will, of course, miss the game due to his season-ending knee injury.
At this point, Zach Ertz making the Pro Bowl feels like a slam dunk. #Eagles
— Bryn Swartz (@eaglescentral) October 8, 2017
— Justin Grasso (@JGrasso_) November 22, 2017
Zach Ertz deserves a pro bowl spot this year
— Brandon Karkiewicz (@BrandoKarko) November 26, 2017
In addition to his production in the passing game, Ertz has developed into an effective run blocker, which has added a dimension to the Eagles’ potent offense. Ertz’s physicality in the run game has opened holes for the stable of Philadelphia running backs this year, which along with the offensive line, has led to the second-best rushing attack in the NFL behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ertz’s development into a complete tight end has certainly helped propel the Eagles offense to new heights, as well as the additions of Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery and the quality quarterback play from Wentz and now Nick Foles.
It’s already been an incredible year for Zach and his Eagles teammates, who clinched a first-round playoff bye last Sunday.
Entering the season, Philadelphia was not viewed as an immediate threat in the NFC. Projections had the Eagles in the middle of the NFL pack, finishing behind the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in their own division. However, Philly quickly changed the perception of themselves when the regular season began. They began the season with a victory in Washington and have dominated their competition all season, compiling a 12-2 record, the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, and the league’s best rushing defense.
Joining Ertz and Wentz in Orlando will be two teammates from each side of the ball offensive linemen Brandon Brooks (guard) and Lane Johnson (tackle) and defenders Fletcher Cox (tackle) and Malcolm Jenkins (safety) were also selected. It was a first-time honor for all four members of the Philly offense, while Cox’s selection was his third and Jenkins was voted in for a second time.
While it’s been a great season so far in Philadelphia, Zach and his teammates all know they still have a lot of work to do to reach their ultimate goal. That goal is to make the Super Bowl, which would prevent any Philadelphia players from playing in the Pro Bowl. That said, the recognition from the fans, their peers and coaches around the league, established through the honor of being named a Pro Bowler, is important to all of them.
“I’ve never had a team like this. The ultimate goal is to win football games in this league. If you don’t win, nothing really matters. That’s what’s been so rewarding this year. I’ve been a really big contributor on a really good football team. I think that whole process has been really fulfilling,” said Ertz.