Did Carson Wentz really target Zach Ertz too much? | Eagles Mythbusters


The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the most fascinating teams to watch over the last ten years. Fans have experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows and in the midst of it all, there have been plenty of myths along the way. From whatever happened to DeMarco Murray in 2015, the collapse of the dream team and so much more, this series will take a deeper dive into some of the biggest myths surrounding the Eagles. 

We’re going to kick things off with one of the most recent Eagles myths, and that’s the idea that Carson Wentz ‘targets Zach Ertz too much’.  This has been a talking point for months and understandably so. Ertz is coming off a record-setting season and one where his 1,163 yards shone through all the rainy days in what was a rollercoaster campaign. But does that really hold any weight? 

In the 11 games Wentz played in last season, Ertz was targeted 106 times. That’s an average of 9.64 targets per game. That does seem like a lot, especially when you consider that overall, Ertz accounted for 33% of targets split between the team’s top 6 receivers. His 156 targets ranked 6th in the league and of course led all Tight Ends. But is that because Carson Wentz was forcing him the ball?

Well, in the the five games Nick Foles was the quarterback, Ertz was targeted 50 times, averaging, believe it or not, 10 targets per game….which is .36 of an increase over Wentz. Now of course, this is a smaller sample size, but with 69 targets including the postseason, it’s not as if Ertz suddenly became invisible. 

In fact, Ertz was targeted on 26.4% of Carson Wentz pass attempts and 25.6% of the time when Nick Foles was at the helm.

But it didn’t exactly differ last season. In 2017 when Foles stepped into the offense, Ertz was still targeted close to 8 times per game. And if we go back even further, when Ertz had come back from a rib injury, over the second half of the 2016 season, no tight end saw more targets than Zach Ertz of the Eagles, with 75.

Ertz also has 15 red zone touchdown catches, which is the most in the NFL over the last two years.

 I  don’t think it’s a case of anybody over-targeting Zach Ertz, be that Wentz or Foles. I think this comes down to the Eagles having a generational talent who said a new record for catches in 2018, scoring 8 touchdowns in the process, and eclipsing Jimmy Graham for the most catches (437) through his first six seasons in NFL history. If you have a generational talent, that Ertz is shaping up to be, and he consistently gets open, why wouldn’t you rinse and repeat until the defense finds a way to stop?

One of the big reasons Alshon Jeffery was signed, was to take the weight out of the middle of the field and as a result, with coordinators having to respect the former Bears receiver, it opened up the entire offense and allowed Ertz to feast on an even bigger banquet. 

Now I do think in 2018 that Wentz was hampered by his ACL recovery, as documented in several film rooms that show a near hesitance to come off his first read and move around in the pocket or put weight down on that leg. But if your primary read is a physical tight end with the catch radius of one of those promotional tube men, why would he have to?

This isn’t new to Doug Pederson either. Dougie P had another star tight end before he arrived in Philadelphia and his name was Tracis Kelce, who last year only had 13 less receptions than Ertz. Do we hear that Patrick Mahomes was targeting Kelce too much?

The bottom line is this offense is built for tight ends to be a focal point, be that as receivers or fundamental blocking options, as evidenced by Goedert’s emergence as a blocker.

Myth: Carson Wentz targets Zach Ertz too much