The Eagles made a worrying announcement just a couple of hours prior to their clash with Denver. The team would be without star tight end Zach Ertz as they hosted one of the league’s most intimidating defenses. A hit that left many questioning whether or not the Eagles offense had enough to overthrow the Broncos, the Birds limped into the matchup at the tight end spot…and left with their heads held high.
Trey Burton caught 2 passes for 41 yards and his second touchdown of the season, while Brent Celek’s 39 receiving yards were the most that the 32-year old has tallied since week 3 of 2016. The performances of the Eagles tight end rotation helped push them past the ruthless Broncos and vindicate their offensive dominance shown all season.
“Yeah, it was all part of our game plan.” Pederson said on the role his tight ends played against Denver. “We wanted to utilize the tight ends like we do every week. We’ve got a lot of confidence in [TE] Trey [Burton] and [TE] Brent [Celek]. Listen, they do a great job. They do a great job, and [Tight ends coach] Justin Peelle does a great job of getting them ready to play. We had to make some last-second adjustments prior to the game, but you know what, as coaches, that’s what our job is, to make those adjustments. Guys were ready to play and did a nice job.”
The versatility of Burton has long been an under-rated strong point of the Eagles offense. Being able to line up outside, in the slot, as a blocker and even contribute as a special teams ace (leading the team in special teams tackles back in 2015.). His chemistry with Carson Wentz that really began to bloom in his first offseason with the team. While Burton stole the show, that’s not to overlook the versatility of Brent Celek.
The longest-tenured Eagle may be primarily used as a blocking tight end to help bolster the offense, but his 4,940 career receiving yards show a completely different side. Celek displayed that he still has that “Tank” ability to plough through defenders and be a complete wrecking ball for opposing defenses. Surprisingly, to get both guys involved in the passing game and minimize the loss of Ertz, the team didn’t have to do too much.
“Just some formations and stuff.” Said Carson Wentz. “Formationally and personnel-wise pre-game, we had to just make some tweaks; but nothing too major. I think having Celek and having Trey – those guys, first of all, are smart – and know everyone’s positions so that helps. You can just plug them in. But not only are they smart, they’re talented. They were always ready to go and they made some big plays today.”
With Zach Ertz ready to return to action, the Eagles may be at their most dangerous yet offensively. Ertz is leading the team in receiving with 528 yards and 6 touchdowns, a sensational season that has pushed the Stanford product well ahead the rest of the tight end curve. With Ertz back into the mix, the Eagles once again have three lethal options at tight end.
While Dallas will place all their keys on containing Ertz, the prospect of both Burton and Celek wreaking havoc under the radar becomes more dangerous than ever. The “Next guy up” mentality has served the Eagles well thus far…but against the Cowboys, it becomes a cultural difference that could see them completely destroy a beaten up defense.
“We thought Ertz was going to be ready to play, and we didn’t miss a beat.” Said Wentz. “We had [TE Brent] Celek and [TE] Trey [Burton] step up and make some big plays. That’s just how we’re wired, that’s how we’re built – next guy up – and shoot, the O-line, hats off to them. Against that [Denver] D-line, that front seven – I hear all about them and that’s a great defense – so our O-line really handled some business today. It was a good team win.”
Without Sean Lee and a panic move to bring in Byron Maxwell, the Cowboys are hurting due to a lack of depth across the field…whereas the Eagles are loaded with talented depth that possess both hunger and determination to win as a team. No distractions, just wins.
Celek and Burton have proven their worth in the last two weeks alone and with the head of the Army now back in charge, the Eagles passing offense could be the most explosive we have seen all season if Pederson finds ways to get all three players involved.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports