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Zach Ertz Shares His Secret For Early-Season Success

Posted Oct 25, 2017

To say Zach Ertz is finally having a monster breakout year is about as accurate of an understatement one could make. In Monday night’s win, Ertz seized his fifth touchdown of the season – already the most in his career. In the two games against the Redskins, he torched Washington for 182 yards and caught all 13 passes that were thrown his direction.

That’s just a snapshot of what Ertz has done this year.

Across the league, Ertz ranks first among tight ends in receptions (39), receiving yards (494), touchdowns (5), and first downs (26). He’s well on pace to earn his first 1,000-yard season and would be the first Eagles tight end to do so since Pete Retzlaff (1,190) accomplished the feat in 1965.

Ertz is playing elite-level football and Monday night’s performance five-catch, 89-yard performance against the Redskins was no exception.

“Any time we play a division opponent, I want to have a good game. This whole year I pride myself on making plays when the ball is in the air and we got off to a fast start before and I want to make plays for the football team,” said Ertz.

Ertz recorded his third straight game with a touchdown which is the longest streak by an Eagle since Jordan Matthews from 2015-16 and the longest by an Eagles tight end since Brent Celek from 2011-12. An improved aspect of Ertz’s game is his production in the red zone. In the eight times he’s been targeted inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, Ertz has scored on five of those opportunities.

For the first time in his career, Ertz has had the same quarterback for consecutive years. And he and Carson Wentz are clearly on the same page.

“My job’s so easy with Carson,” Ertz said. “I just run and he puts the ball exactly where it needs to be every time.”

On first-and-10 with the game tied at 10 apiece late in the second quarter, the two connected on a 46-yard pass downfield (the third-longest reception of Ertz’s career) to bring the Eagles inside the Washington 20-yard line. Ertz showed off his polished red zone prowess when Ertz caught a short pass on a flat route, put the brakes on safety D.J. Swearinger making him fly by, before jogging in for a 4-yard score to finish the drive. The touchdown with just 20 seconds to go in the first half put the Eagles up for good.

“I kind of advised a certain play and luckily they listened. They’re really receptive to what we’re seeing on the football field. I think it stems from Carson’s ability to diagnose plays. (Head coach) Doug (Pederson) made a great play call. I just had a flat route, caught the ball, figured he would be overreacting to the flat route because it was so close and I just kind of stopped and let him go by. It was easy,” Ertz said.

Ertz is making plays look easy with great regularity these days. Up next for Eagles are the 49ers who rank as one of stingiest defenses toward opposing tight ends this season. They’ve allowed 26 receptions (eighth fewest) and 270 yards (seventh fewest) while relinquishing just one touchdown to tight ends. The challenge is one Ertz embraces as he continues to prove he’s one of the league’s most superior playmakers at tight end.

“I think my teammates expect me to go out there and make plays so I want to build that confidence in them for me,” he said.

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