Zach Ertz’s historic season continued on Monday night, as the sixth-year tight end set yet another milestone during this illustrious campaign. A week after notching his 400th career catch, Ertz set the Eagles' single-season receptions record with his 91st catch of the season, which came midway through the third quarter of the Eagles' 28-13 win over Washington.
Brian Westbrook had held the single-season franchise receptions record with his 90 catches in 2007. Ertz broke that record on Monday night, finishing the night with 93 catches on the season (which ranks second among all NFL players this year, trailing only Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen).
“There have been so many great players in this organization and to set the record at home is obviously really special,” Ertz said after the game. “At the same time, the most important thing was being able to win. (Coming into the game at) 5-6 against a good football team, a really good run defense. They have good players up and down that defense, so it was something that we needed tonight.”
Ertz accounted for 83 of the Eagles' 306 yards of offense through the air against Washington. All season long, it’s been clear that his chemistry with quarterback Carson Wentz has been ramped up even higher than it was last season.
“Yeah, I think this year it’s definitely taken that next step,” Ertz said. “I think last year we were playing at a high level, but this year we’ve taken that next step.
“We see the game so similarly. We talk about football all the time and we’re totally invested in being the best players we can be for this team, this organization. We just love the game of football. We love talking about it. We love the fine art of route-running and the timing of the quarterback and the tight end. I think there was one time this year where we saw something different. Other than that, we see the game very similarly and it’s a lot of fun playing with him. The guy’s so competitive. He’s so talented. It’s really fun.”
“He just completely understands the game, from almost a quarterback’s view,” said Wentz. “He knows where he needs to be. He knows coverages. He knows when I’m supposed to be ‘hot,’ all sorts of things. Just having another guy with that kind of intelligence, next-level intelligence, and also just the way he runs his routes and gets open, he does a great job and that’s why we keep finding him."
Perhaps the most staggering fact about Ertz’s numbers this season is that he’s already accomplished so much with a quarter of the season still to play. The next potential milestone for Ertz? The all-time single-season receptions mark for an NFL tight end is 110, set by Jason Witten in 2012. Formerly NFC East rivals, Ertz says that he’s always studied the way Witten worked to become the best receiving tight end he can be.
“In terms of route-running, just studying him for so long and finding the intricacies of how he ran routes, that’s something I studied from the moment I came into the league,” Ertz said. “Since I’ve had the opportunities to really study tight ends and study their film, he was the guy I was really watching because it seemed like on third down he was always getting his number called and he was always attacking leverage. I just really modeled my game after his. There are some differences, but I think there are a lot of similarities.
“I have the ultimate respect for him. He knows that. We have a good relationship. Obviously, I wish he didn’t play for the Cowboys but it was fun playing against him for a couple years.”
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' Monday-night matchup against the Washington Redskins.