Full 60-minute games are on the mind of tight end Zach Ertz. It's important to not only get a lead, but also seal the victory.
To date back to last season when the Eagles played the Cardinals, the Eagles had a commanding 24-7 lead only to see Carson Palmer lead the Cardinals back in the game. With 4:45 left in the game, the Eagles led by only three points, 27-24. Although Arizona mounted a tough comeback, the Eagles were able to hold and win the game and that is what Ertz stressed.
"We got up early on them and then we gave up a few points late, but we finished them in the end, and that's what we have to do each and every game," said Ertz, who was integral to the win as he posted the first multi-touchdown performance of his career.
So far this season, the Eagles have been able to find ways to win games and they need to continue to do so as the season progresses, especially with some tough games ahead. What makes Sunday's matchup even more challenging is that not only are the Cardinals one of the top teams in the NFC sitting at 5-1, but also the fact that this is a road game for the Eagles. They will be battling against a loud atmosphere inside University of Phoenix Stadium to accompany the talented players on the opposite side of the ball. Ertz however believes that the style of Chip Kelly's offense will have this team prepared for the noise by actually utilizing less communication.
"I think the offense that we run, where we don't have a ton of communication, is very beneficial for us in a dome, or in a loud atmosphere," Ertz said. "So, I think that's a big key for us."
That is one key for the Eagles, but another is dealing with the tough defense of the Cardinals. The numbers on the Cardinals' defense are impressive, but if the Eagles stick to their plan and execute individual responsibilities, the offense will have its success. Ertz described the defense as being "tough up front" and "very physical," but one thing about bringing pressure is that it opens up opportunities on the outside. The Cardinals rank 31st in pass defense and, according to Football Outsiders, are 18th in defending tight ends.
If the Eagles can account for the rushing players and give quarterback Nick Foles some time, good things can happen.
"We just need to account for them when they do blitz, and then we need to make plays on the perimeter," Ertz said.
Last year, the Eagles used the passing game to get the lead and it ultimately won them the game, but Ertz is of the mindset that the ground game is crucial in sealing the victory.
"If we start fast we're going to have to focus on finishing in the end, and we'll need to run the ball down their throat, even when they know it's coming," he said.
Ertz had two touchdowns last season against Arizona and recorded a beautiful touchdown grab in the Eagles' win over the Giants. He will play a vital role in getting the Eagles on track early in Sunday's matchup between two 5-1 teams.