In 2018, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz established early in the season that he was one of the league’s top talents, especially at the tight end position. At the conclusion of the 2017 season, Ertz had emerged as one of the many bright young stars at tight end after tallying 74 receptions, 824 yards and eight touchdowns on the way to winning a Super Bowl title. Ertz set out on a journey during OTA’s and the pre-season to set a new mark for himself, but more importantly to bring his team to another Super Bowl and win.
Unfortunately, the Eagles fell just short of a repeat, but Ertz had some memorable moments from the 2018 season, including his second selection to the Pro Bowl, an Eagles playoff win, and a new NFL record for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season. Zach’s 2018 will be remembered as one of the better individual seasons by a tight end in league history. Below is a look at some of the most notable numbers from Zach’s record-breaking season:
With a young, mobile quarterback in Carson Wentz who can also put the ball right on the money, Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh relied heavily on the pass game this season. Ertz’s 6-foot-5-inch frame, crisp route-running, quickness, and hands made him a reliable target for both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz this season, ultimately resulting in Zach breaking Jason Witten’s single-season receptions record by a tight end. Ertz piled up 116 receptions during the regular season, which ranked second in the NFL, behind only New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Ertz hauled in 74 percent of the passes that went his way this season. Compared to his rookie year, he was looked to for his elite services through the air 100 more times. Last year, Ertz was targeted a healthy 110 times. This season Zach was even more of a focal point of the offense during his second Pro Bowl season, ranking sixth in the NFL in targets.
Zach maximized his 116 receptions converting them into big-time yards. He accumulated 1,163 receiving yards in Groh’s offense, earning his first ever 1,000-yard season in the NFL. No. 86 shattered the 1,000-yard mark comfortably, ranking 16th in the NFL in receiving yards and third among tight ends.
For the second straight season, No. 86 caught eight touchdown passes. He scored 13 touchdowns in his first two seasons, but in the last two has scored 16. Zach’s relationship on and off the field with quarterback Carson Wentz has developed quickly, and it is paying dividends on the field. Zach’s touchdown total tied for 13th in the NFL and third among tight ends.
18 Games Played
Zach appeared in all 16 games played in the regular season for the first time since 2014. The most important ability is often availability in the NFL, and No. 86 was reliable this season making every regular season start and an additional two starts in the postseason for the Eagles.
66 First Down Receptions
Ertz was the “go-to guy” in the Eagles’ offense this year. No. 86 racked up 66 receptions for first downs this season, consistently keeping the chains moving to sustain drives. When the Eagles needed a crucial conversion, Zach often found himself with the ball in his hands.
16 Red Zone Receptions
Zach’s combination of size and speed has always created mismatches for him, and this season was no different. This advantage is particularly prevalent in the red zone, where No. 86 notched 16 receptions inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, which tied for third in the NFL, only trailing the Saints’ Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on the list.
74.4 Catch Percentage
This season Zach had a catch percentage of 74.4 percent, the highest of his career to date. Despite seeing plenty more targets than in previous seasons, Ertz was as reliable a target as he has ever been, hauling in roughly three out of every four attempts thrown his way in 2018.
Throughout his career, Zach has become one of the most threatening third-down players in the league. The Eagles often looked to pass on third down, and Ertz was their man. Wentz and Foles placed a good amount of faith in Ertz all season on later downs, finding Ertz for 17 conversions on third or fourth down this season, which ranked 14th in the NFL. Zach’s sharp route running and speed allowed him to run routes to the sidelines that separated himself from defenders, often rewarding the Eagles with a first down.
13 20-Plus-Yard Receptions
Zach recorded 13 receptions of 20 yards or more during the 2018 regular season, which ranked fourth among tight ends, proving that No. 86 is more than just a red zone threat. Zach can also attack a defense vertically, which is why it makes him so difficult to stop. Zach’s 13 catches of 20-plus yards equaled the number of big-play receptions by explosive wide receivers Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen and DeSean Jackson. Zach isn’t just a security blanket underneath for his quarterback. He can be used in a variety of roles and route concepts.