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Eagles’ Reliable Target


Over the last two seasons, Zach Ertz has placed himself among the league’s great tight ends with his playmaking abilities, operating as one of the most consistent weapons at the position no matter who has been under center for the Philadelphia Eagles during that time.

Zach broke out in the 2017 season, developing chemistry throughout the regular season with Carson Wentz delivering him the ball as the Eagles dominated their way to a No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. When Nick Foles took over for their eventual Super Bowl run, the quarterback-tight end connection never wavered, and the two connected for the game-winning touchdown to beat the New England Patriots.

Ertz was a major difference-maker again for the Eagles in the 2018-2019 season, routinely helping to extend drives on third downs and consistently making big-time plays through the air. No. 86 led Philly in receiving yards or receptions in 11 of their 18 total games. With the Eagles swapping back-and-forth between Nick Foles and Carson Wentz throughout the year once again, Ertz was a model of consistency, proving to be a reliable option and favorite target of both quarterbacks.

In Week 1 versus the Atlanta Falcons, Ertz led the defending Super Bowl champions with 48 receiving yards in a tight defensive battle. Nick Foles started the season at quarterback and completed 19-for-34 passes for no touchdowns and one interception in the win, connecting with No. 86 five times throughout the night.

One week later, the Eagles flew to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Foles turned in a stellar performance, throwing the ball 48 times and completing 35 passes for 334 yards and a touchdown. This was Zach’s first major performance of the season. He was targeted 13 times and caught 11 of them for 94 yards. Ertz’s 11 catches and 94 yards led the team in both categories.

Against the Titans in Week 4, Ertz led the Eagles aerial attack with 10 catches and 112 yards. This was QB Carson Wentz’s second game back from his knee injury suffered in 2017. Wentz tore up the Titans’ defense through the air, completing 33-for-50 pass attempts for 348 yards and two scores. Wentz looked for Ertz often, targeting him 14 times throughout the win and completing 10 of those attempts. Unfortunately, the Eagles fell just short in a 26-23 overtime loss.

“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,” Ertz said about not starting the overtime drive on offense. “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.”

In Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings, No. 86 put up a very similar performance to the one in Tennessee. Wentz and Ertz connected 10 times for 110 yards and one touchdown. Zach brought the game to within two points late in the fourth quarter, catching a 7-yard touchdown pass. But the Eagles fell again, unable to score again to top the Vikings.

The following week the Eagles needed a win against their division rivals, the New York Giants, and they did just that, racking up 34 points in a blowout victory. Carson Wentz threw for three touchdowns on the road, including one to Zach, who had seven catches for 43 yards on the day.

In Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers, Zach was targeted 11 times and caught nine of them for 138 yards. For the fourth time in seven weeks, Ertz led the Eagles in receptions and the sixth time in the first seven weeks he led the team in receiving yardage.

Three weeks later, the Philadelphia Eagles met their rival the Dallas Cowboys for the first time and it was a close one. The Cowboys got on the board first with a Brett Maher field goal. They then proceeded to score a touchdown along with another field goal to end the half. Jake Elliott’s lone field goal kept the score 3-13 in favor of the Cowboys. Zach and the Eagles’ high-powered offense battled back in the third quarter, however, scoring 10 unanswered points.

Zach led the team with 14 catches, 145 yards, and two touchdowns in a big-time game with potential playoff implications. In the fourth, the Dallas offense outscored the Eagles 14-7 to hold on for a 27-20 win over the Eagles. Wentz threw for 360 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the hard-fought game.

For the second edition of the Eagles-Giants rivalry in 2018, the Giants came to the Linc. Entering the game, the Eagles were 4-6 and needed to turn their season around, and they did exactly what they needed to do. The 25-22 Eagles win started a chain of wins that led to a 5-1 record over the final six weeks of the regular season. Once again, Ertz was the QB’s top target, pulling in seven receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown, all of which led the Eagles through the air.

In Week 16, the 10-5 Houston Texans led by quarterback Deshaun Watson traveled to Philly with the chance of a first-round bye in their sights. The Eagles needed to keep winning to secure a playoff berth themselves. And Nick Foles was back under center for a second consecutive week, taking over a week prior due to an injury to Wentz.

Foles kept the offense humming as he hit running back Darren Sproles for a touchdown in the first quarter to jump out to an early lead. As the first half came to a close, the Texans scored twice, and Ertz caught a 1-yard pass from Foles for an Eagles’ touchdown. The Eagles trailed 13-16 at the end of the first half.

Offensive coordinator Mike Groh and the Eagles offense scored 10 unanswered points in the third to give the Eagles the lead. Exchanging scores back and forth, the game came down to the final play, when kicker Jake Elliott drilled a 35-yard field goal to win it for the Eagles. Foles played one of his best games of the season, completing 35 of 49 passes for 471 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. Ertz caught 12 passes for 110 yards and Nelson Agholor led Philly with 116 yards. Zach also scored two touchdowns for the Eagles and was instrumental in the win. Without the win against the Texans, the Eagles would not have made the playoffs.

Foles led the Eagles into the playoffs for a second straight season, and he continued to find No. 86 in big moments. In a 16-15 Wild Card victory over the Chicago Bears, Foles and Ertz linked up five times for 52 yards.

A week later against the New Orleans Saints, Ertz and Alshon Jeffery shared the team lead in receptions in a near-upset of the No. 1 seed. Both players had five catches and Ertz was second on the team with 50 yards, producing almost the same exact numbers as he did just one week before against the Bears in Chicago.

The Eagles scored 14 points in the first quarter, and the defense held the Saints offense to zero points. After the Eagles 14-first quarter points, the Saints’ defense tightened up, and Drew Brees led his team back for the win.

Last season, Ertz proved that he is one of the best tight ends in football, especially considering he has produced in big moments with two separate quarterbacks under center over the last two years. With Wentz back healthy to start next season, as well as a talented supporting cast of offensive weapons, Zach will be looking to continue causing mismatches for opposing defenses in the seasons to come.

By | 2019-03-11T16:01:16+00:00 03.15.19|News|0 Comments

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