The Eagles early season struggles are dominating the headlines so far, and rightfully so. However, a more positive storyline is the play of Zach Ertz, who is quietly having one of the best starts by a tight end in NFL history. Through just seven weeks, Ertz has 57 catches and 618 receiving yards, which are some of the highest marks in the NFL.
Forget about one of the best tight ends in the league, we are talking about one of the best offensive players in the entire NFL. Ertz has always gotten cast aside when talking about who the top tight end in the game is, but that narrative may and should change this season.
All-Time Tight End Records
Zach Ertz only has two touchdowns through seven games and has no chance of catching the all-time record of 17, set by Rob Gronkowski in 2011. However, that doesn’t mean Zach doesn’t have a shot at two records this season.
In 2004, Tony Gonzalez set the single-season record of catches by a tight end with 102. Although Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski both got close in 2011, they never reached 100 receptions. They did, however, both reach over 1,300 receiving yards in that 2011 season. Those marks of 1,327 and 1,310 are the two highest marks in one season by a tight end, and this season Ertz has a chance to break both of those records.
Ertz’s Per-Game Receiving Averages
Zach’s 57 catches are putting him at an incredible eight grabs per game, which is currently second in the NFL. If Zach can keep this pace, it would put him on pace for 128 catches on the season. Not only would that shatter the record for tight ends, but it would be the 5th most catches in one season by any single player.
Ertz is also turning those catches into big chunks of yards. He’s averaging 10.8 yards per reception and is currently 5th in receiving yards this season. If Ertz were to keep on with those averages he would eclipse Gronkowski’s record of 1,327 with 1,412 receiving yards.
Eagles Teammates Making An Impact
Since Alshon Jeffrey returned to Eagles lineup against the Titans, Ertz has been even more dominant. In those four games, Ertz has 36 catches, 403 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Ertz demands respect from the defence which sometimes garners him double coverage. Now with Jeffrey inserted into the lineup, his playmaking abilities takes pressure off Ertz and allows him to receive more single coverage and mis-match opportunities. Which accounts for his increased production in those four contests. As long as both can remain healthy they’ll be giving defences fits together all year long.
Ertz also has the privilege of playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now. Carson Wentz has 10 touchdowns to just one interception through five games and has the 7th hight QBR this season.
Not only is Wentz good, but he loves throwing the ball to Ertz, as he’s his security blanket and a big-play threat. Their chemistry and trust with one another will make for the high production that Ertz needs to break these records.
Why Ertz Can Break These Records
It will be a challenge for Ertz to keep up his 88.3 yards per game average over the next nine games. However, with the Eagles desperately needing wins and not blowing any teams out, Philadelphia will be throwing the ball often. Ertz and the Eagles starters likely won’t be sitting out any 4th quarters like they did last season.
Another reason why the Eagles will attack through the air is the fact that the Eagles are desperate for running back help. If no one can start producing consistently, Philadelphia will be forced to throw the ball even more. Especially if GM Howie Roseman doesn’t bring in a running back before the trade deadline passes.
Over these next nine games, Zach will have to be dominate throughout to catch Rob Gronkowski’s single-season receiving record. Although possible, Ertz will have to be on his A-game for the remainder of the season to catch that mark.
However, Ertz is on pace to smash Gonzalez’s reception record and needs only 45 catches over his next nine games to tie it. That’s just five catches a game, which coincidently is Ertz’s season low for catches this season. It would be quite the falloff if Ertz can’t break this record and even more surprising if he could manage to beat Gronkowski’s mark.
With the Eagles and their fans focusing their attention on turning their season around, this will be a fun secondary storyline to keep an eye on as the season rolls on.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
23-year-old journalism student at MacEwan University. Follow me on Twitter @OzzyConnelly Fly Eagles Fly!