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Zach Ertz Off To An 'Elite TE' Start

Posted Sep 29, 2017

Start fast. Finish strong. The goal of tight end Zach Ertz from an individual perspective – and it’s very difficult to get him to think or talk or breathe about his individual goals – is to have a complete start-to-finish season for the Eagles ...

Start fast. Finish strong. The goal of tight end Zach Ertz from an individual perspective – and it’s very difficult to get him to think or talk or breathe about his individual goals – is to have a complete start-to-finish season for the Eagles.

Not because of the numbers, mind you.

“Because I want to be out there helping this team win,” Ertz said. “That’s the only focus I have. If I’m there playing my best, then I’m helping the team win. Catches and stats aren’t my focus.”

Ertz is off to the best start in his Eagles career with 21 catches for 245 yards and a touchdown in three games. His 14 receiving first downs rank second in the NFL to Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s 18 and Ertz is tied for third in the league in total receptions entering Week 4.

In his fifth season, Ertz is an elite tight end.

“I’m just working hard every day to improve my all-around game,” Ertz said. “I feel like I’ve had good chemistry with Carson (Wentz, quarterback) and that’s helped us on the field. The longer you work with somebody, the more you’re going to be on the same page with him. That’s what is happening here.

“But the bigger thing is fitting into the offense. I just want to see us get everything in sync. I feel like we’re close, so maybe this is the week we put it all together.”

Ertz caught his first touchdown pass of the season against the Giants as Wentz went back to him from 3 yards out one play after Ertz missed catching a Wentz throw. The second time, it was the same route. The same throw. But a catch and a score and hopefully, Ertz thinks, more ahead.

“We have weapons and we’re spreading the ball around and the red zone is where it is telling in the league between wins and losses,” he said. “You have to score touchdowns in there. You can’t settle for field goals. We’ve improved in that area of the offense. I want to be somebody Carson can throw to and know the play is going to be made.”

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Maybe you didn’t know that Ertz has the most receptions (247) and most receiving yards (2,840) of any Eagles tight end in his first four seasons, a list that includes great pass catchers like Keith Jackson (1988-91) and Charle Young (1973-76). Pete Retzlaff played for the Eagles from 1956-66 and caught 452 passes and Brent Celek has 386 receptions, so if Ertz keeps up his pace, or improves it, he’ll be on the doorstep soon.

Not that he’s thinking that way.

“Honestly, what’s on my mind is that we haven’t been in the playoffs since my rookie season (2013) and I’ve never won a playoff game and that streak is too long and too painful,” Ertz said. “I don’t like it. I want to help change that. If that means I’m catching passes, so be it. If it means I’m blocking, that’s fine as well.

“Whatever I can do to help us win; I’m going to do it.”

Los Angeles is the opponent this week and the Chargers are 0-3, a record that belies just how good the roster is and how potent the defense can be. Ertz is going to be a factor again as the Eagles look to control the middle of the field in the passing game and put pressure on the Chargers’ safeties down the field.

Wentz to Ertz, completion. You could hear that quite a bit on Sunday.

“Zach is doing a great job all around,” Celek said. “Everybody here just wants to do his part. Zach is no different. He’s playing great football and you’re seeing the results.”

Ertz opened at Washington with eight catches and 93 yards. He went to Kansas City and had five receptions and 97 yards, and then last week against the Giants posted eight more catches for 55 yards and a score.

Good stuff.

“A win,” he said, “that’s the story. That’s the goal. I don’t care about the other stuff.”

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