The 2018 season for the Philadelphia Eagles was full of ups and downs. The season started with so much excitement on the heels of the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, and the Eagles started out with another win on the NFL’s opening night. However, unlike a season prior, the wins weren’t piling up in the early part of the season as the team struggled to turn in a complete performance. They never stopped competing through the adversity, though, gutting out wins however they could, reaching the bye week with a record of 4-4, still firmly in position to make a run to the playoffs.
A Week 11 loss to the New Orleans Saints could have been the final blow to knock this team down for good in 2018. Instead, it became a turning point as the Eagles would rally together and finish the season strong by winning five of their final six games to make the playoffs. It appeared as if the Eagles were poised to make another magical run through the NFC after beating the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round. However, the Saints edged Philly in the Divisional round a week later, ending the Eagles’ hopes of a repeat.
Although the season didn’t end with Philly on top again, Zach Ertz and his Eagles’ teammates had a memorable season, one that tested them in a variety of ways and will strengthen them moving into next season. It was filled with highlight plays, eye-popping numbers and plenty of emotion. And of course, the players and coaches had plenty of quotes that tell the story of the 2018 season. Below are some of the best quotes from Zach, his teammates and his coaches about the 2018 Eagles season:
“It’s a tone-setter,” Ertz said. “It’s only one game, but it was a big one for us. We showed the toughness we always show. Nothing about tonight really surprised me. I know what kind of team this is and how we respond to adversity.” –Zach had this to say after a hard-fought victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the first game of the 2018 NFL regular season. The defenses came ready to play, and the Falcons took a 6-3 lead into halftime. However, the Eagles started their title defense with a win after a strong second half, taking the game 18-12.
“Now we have a chance to take a long weekend and enjoy it and then get ready for the next game, it’s a great feeling. It was an incredible atmosphere. Our fans brought it. Without them, we don’t win this game.” –Zach said after the Eagles Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Every team prepares throughout training camp to get off to a good start by winning their first game. As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Eagles were able to do just that, and since they were awarded the Thursday night season-opening game, they were rewarded with a few extra days off.
“We’re the ones usually making the plays at the end to win the game, but it didn’t happen this time. It’s very disappointing. We’re 2-2. It’s not the end of the world. We have to bounce back from this and get back to putting teams away when we have the chance. We’ve got a lot of season left in us and we have some work to do.” –Ertz said after their Week 4 matchup against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans put together a drive in OT to win the game 26-23, bringing the Eagles to 2-2.
“The thing about this locker room is it’s full of guys that really love the game of football,” Ertz said. “Everyone really loves to compete and play for the person next to them, so we just wanted to go out there and play a full 60 minutes. That was the message this entire week. We’ve put drives, we’ve put quarters together, but we really haven’t put a 60-minute game together.” –This quote from No. 86 came following Philadelphia’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The Eagles trip across the pond was a successful one. A fourth quarter touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Zach gave the Eagles all they needed to fend off the Jags, giving Philly a 4-4 record and a much-needed win entering their bye week.
“I know I’m not ever going to give up, fight until the end, going to give everything I have. I thoroughly believe everyone else is going to do the same thing.” –Zach said reflecting on his and his team’s character after the Eagles’ 7-48 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 11. From this point forward, the Eagles only lost one more regular season game, made the playoffs and took down the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
“Obviously the season’s not exactly where we expected it to be, but at the same time everything’s still in front of us. We have three straight division games; it’s going to be a great opportunity for us.” –Ertz said heading into Week 12 against the New York Giants. Zach caught seven passes on eight targets for 91 yards and a touchdown in the 25-22 win. This win was the victory that began their six-week run to the playoffs in which the Eagles went 5-1 to finish the regular season.
“Zach’s having an outstanding season. Not only as a receiver, but in everything that we’re asking him to do and being a complete player at the tight end position.” –Mike Groh on No. 86 after the Eagles 25-22 come-from-behind win over the Giants in Week 12. Ertz had 7 receptions on 8 targets for 91 yards and a score. Zach, along with the dominant performance by the offensive line, made the comeback possible.
“Having a guy like Zach Ertz, again, it seems like we talk about him all the time, but he just completely understands the game from almost a quarterback’s view.” –Carson Wentz said about Zach after the Eagles’ convincing 28-13 win over the Washington Redskins in Week 13.
“[Zach] knows where he needs to be, knows coverages, almost knows when I’m going to be hot and when to look early and all sorts of things. Just having another guy with that kind of intelligence, next level intelligence, and then also the way he just runs his routes and gets open.” –Wentz further expanded on Zach’s understanding of the game, explaining how Zach consistently finds open space and continues to make plays for the offense on a weekly basis. This quote also came from after the Week 13 win over Washington, in which Zach had nine receptions for 83 yards and broke the Eagles’ all-time single-season receptions record.
“I think Zach takes a lot of pride in being a complete player and not just a pass-catching tight end.” –Offensive coordinator Mike Groh said about No. 86 after Philly defeated the eventual NFC Champions, the Los Angeles Rams, 30-23 late in the season. Zach’s prowess as a weapon in the pass game is well known, evidenced by his numbers, but he has shown his teammates and coaches that he is willing and very capable of blocking in the run game as well.
“That’s the mark of this team. We’re always going to stick together. We truly care and love one another. I think you guys can see that each time you interact with the guys in the locker room. It’s not an individual game for us by any means. Guys just want to play to the best of their abilities for each other, and I think that’s the mark of a great team.” –Ertz said this after recording 12 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 32-30 win over Houston in Week 16. With the team needing a victory over a talented team with playoffs on the line for the Eagles, Zach and his teammates delivered a fantastic performance, edging the Texans and positioning themselves for a Wild Card spot.
“First of all, it’s a great honor for Zach and congratulations go to him. He’s another one of those guys, very unselfish. Quarterbacks do have a comfort level with him, he seems to be that guy where you know where he’s going to be. He’s obviously great after the catch, runs great routes, so for the quarterbacks to have that type of guy, again it just gives you that little comfort especially in crucial moments.” –Doug Pederson said this about Zach after the win over the Texans in Week 16, the game in which Zach surpassed Jason Witten’s tight end record of 110 receptions in a single season.
“Zach ran a great route, the defender stumbled, Zach was able to keep his feet and make a play and that was a huge part of the game, but any time he’s running a route I expect him to win.” –Nick Foles said this about his Pro Bowl tight end after making a big-time catch against Houston late in the game on Dec. 23. Ertz helped the team win a crucial game with his blocking, crisp route running, 110 yards and two touchdowns.
“[Foles] never tries to do too much, I think he just tries to play within himself. The moment’s never too big for him. He just resonates that calm and positive outlook each and every snap. Whether it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter, he’s the exact same person.” –Zach said about Eagles quarterback Nick Foles after defeating the Chicago Bears in the first round of the playoffs. The game was close throughout, with the Eagles ultimately prevailing 16-15, and Nick Foles’ confidence in himself and his teammates was critical in the cold at Soldier Field.
“We fought today, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t regret anything. We gave it our all each and every day. Each and every week during practice we battled, and we went to the guys that made plays all year.” –Ertz said in a post-game press conference after the season-ending loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles started out hot on offense, scoring the first 14 points of the game, but they were unable to outlast the Saints. The Saints came back to win 20-14 and end the Eagles’ season in the NFC Divisional Round. It wasn’t the way Zach had wanted to finish off the season, but this year’s Eagles’ team showed a tremendous amount of fight when they were backed against a wall with six weeks left in the regular season. Many people outside of the building had written them off, but they believed in each other and were able to salvage the season. The way all of the guys battled no matter the circumstances is a lesson that will help Zach and the Eagles moving into next year.