Zach Ertz arrived to work on Tuesday looking like he was ready for a Fourth of July celebration. A "big stars and stripes day," as he called it. He sported his "Mr. Ertz" USA Women's National Team soccer jersey in support of his wife, Julie, the phenomenal midfielder, paired with blue-starred shorts in anticipation of the country's opening World Cup match against Thailand.
Following the Eagles' minicamp practice, Ertz was excused from afternoon meetings by Doug Pederson – the head coach offered, Ertz did not want to make any special requests – and sped home to watch the fireworks both on and off the field.
The Americans opened defense of their World Cup title with a statement victory, blasting Thailand 13-0. The fireworks continued after the game all over social media as commentators criticized the U.S. team for continuing the celebrate excessively after each goal although the game was well at hand.
Ertz is used to scoring touchdowns, but he went on the defensive Wednesday to back his wife and her teammates.
"I've got a lot of thoughts on that. First of all, the first tiebreaker for the group stage of the World Cup is goal differential. It would be a crime for them to take the foot off the gas and then finish second in the group because they took their foot off the gas," Ertz said.
"Second, the best way to build team chemistry, and I think you guys saw that a couple of years ago with us, was the way we celebrated with one another. When you're executing like that, executing at a high level, the whole team gets excited. The whole team gets involved and it's really the best way to build chemistry because you see people so happy for another person's success and I think you saw that with the entire team going out there yesterday celebrating each and every person's success cause it's been building for so long.
"These girls have been training for four years for another World Cup. A lot of them it's their first time and to see how involved, excited each and every girl, I mean you see my wife, she got subbed off, as excited as everyone out there celebrating. I thought that's the best way to build team chemistry, camaraderie. I thought it was special for them to celebrate like that. I didn't think it was a negative thing."
Before the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles captured the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, the players entertained crowds with jubilant choreographed celebrations from the Electric Slide to bowling a strike to hitting a home run to the Flying V and many more while jelling as a team in the process. This offseason, the Eagles have made a plethora of additions on both offense and defense, enough to make Ertz say that this is the most talented team he's been a part of entering his seventh season.
Yes, more talented than the Super Bowl squad.
"The talent we have on this roster is second to none since I've been here," Ertz said, "but in terms of executing and coming together as a team, building the chemistry, that's what really separated that team when we won it a couple of years ago, how close we were on and off the field. That's still coming. It's still early. That's why we have Training Camp. That's why we have mandatory minicamp and that's why we hang out off the field, to build that team chemistry with one another and hopefully execute when it matters."
After the mandatory minicamp wraps up Thursday, Ertz will fly to France to join his wife at the World Cup. Maybe he'll witness a celebration or two that he can bring back to Philadelphia for Eagles to use this upcoming season.