Despite offensive makeover, Zach Ertz is still the Eagles most lethal weapon

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The Eagles Offense saw a complete makeover this offseason. From an injection of talent into the backfield, to a complete reinvention on the outside, the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and the reformed Nelson Agholor have helped give the Eagles a completely new threat level…without mentioning the potential of Mack Hollins. But if there’s one constant that’s helped Pederson’s team flourish this season, it’s Zach Ertz.

The Eagles tight end has been the subject of unwarranted criticism since the Chip Kelly era. A player who fails to pick up yards after the catch, isn’t physical enough to break tackles, and only ever explodes onto the scene in the latter stages of the season. This year, Ertz is making a sheer statement that he is one of, if not the most efficient receiving tight end in the NFL.

With 21 receptions for 245 yards and a score already this season, the Eagles tight end has quite frankly been on a tear. In his last sixteen games, Ertz has amassed 943 yards and 5 touchdowns. If that’s not impressive enough, the Stanford product has caught 5+ passes in a team-record 6 straight road games. If you’re STILL not convinced, not only is Ertz leading the team in receiving yards, but he also has 75+ receiving yards in 4 consecutive games on the road…the longest active streak in the NFL.

Continuity plays a huge role in the NFL, and it’s arguably the most underrated factor on an offensive unit. This is the first time in the career of Zach Ertz that there has been complete security at the quarterback position. The same tight end who caught his first ever NFL touchdown pass from Nick Foles, survived the messy end to the Chip Kelly era, the Mark Sanchez stints, the Sam Bradford seven-game stretch, and is finally thriving in Wentzamania.

After taking a while to gel with Sam Bradford, Ertz exploded in those last few games of 2015, setting him up for a big season one year later…a big season that was to take a huge hit when the shocking trade was announced. After spending the entire offseason working with Bradford, Ertz would now have to develop a rapport with the future of the franchise. After a late-season breakout, it seemed clear that sustenance on the offense would benefit Ertz more than many had realized.

In the opening three games of last season, his first with Carson Wentz, Ertz received for 117 yards. one year later, that number has more than doubled. As Wentz continues to improve mechanically, technically, and mentally, so does Ertz.

A fumble against the Giants may have dented the confidence of many NFL players in that situation, but the Eagles quarterback had every faith in his number one receiving target before the fumble, and continues to clutch tightly to the bond they’ve built.

“With a guy like Zach, we know who he is. Those mistakes don’t happen often.” Wentz told reporters after the win. “That first ball I definitely threw it harder than it needed to be, and it kind of surprised him a little bit. We came right back to him, and that was huge. I know with a guy like that, confidence is never going to go anywhere, and my confidence in him never is either. The fumble is one of those things you brush off and come right back to him. The guy made some great plays for us today.”

 This was also re-enforced by a target in that slipped through the hands of Ertz in the end zone. One play later, Wentz went back to the franchise tight end for a touchdown.

As the Eagles prepare for a showdown with the Chargers, a lot of attention is naturally going to be drawn to Alshon Jeffery and company on the outside…but you simply cannot overlook Zach Ertz any longer. The pieces of the puzzle look to have finally all come together for the Eagles tight end, painting a midnight green picture of a very bright future.

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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