Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz can do more with less

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After handling a historic workload in 2018, Zach Ertz can do a whole lot more for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 by doing less.

In 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles were one of the rare teams in the modern NFL history to have a tight end finish out the season as their lead receiver.

And as you probably already know if you’re reading this, oh what a season it was.

Following an almost endless string of would-be breakout seasons under his belt, ex-Stanford Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz finally put it all together and went off to the tune of 116 catches for 1163 yards and eight touchdowns while filling the role of Carson Wentz‘s favorite target/security blanket.

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For those keeping track at home, that’s the most catches by any tight end in a single season in NFL history ever.

But in 2019, Ertz could do so much more for the Birds by actually doing less.

Yes, really.

You see, after struggling along with one of the worst receiving corps in the league during the Chip Kelly-years, Doug Pederson and company may actually have the best wide receiver trio in the league in Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and prodigal son DeSean Jackson.

While adding the best deep threat receiver in the league (don’t @ me) will certainly help to open up the middle of a field for Ertz, as teams will no longer be able to stack the box or run as much single-high coverage, the same could also be true in reverse: Ertz’s presence in the middle of the field could help to free up single coverage for the team’s trio of outside receivers.

After watching Nick Foles excel as a point guard-esque facilitator to open playmakers in 2018, Wentz should be able to capitalize on these opportunities without having to force a potential big play to a double-covered ball catcher.

Factor in a pair of high upside, big-bodied Day 2 draftees in ex-South Dakota State Jackrabbit Dallas Goedert and red zone specialist (and fellow Stanford Cardinal) JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and what was once a pretty predictable hierarchy of targets on any given progression could become a whole lot more diversified.

Furthermore, while Ertz did lead the team by far in receiving yards with 1163, he finished 10th with an average of 10 yards per catch, behind everyone from Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter, to Darren Sproles and even Nick Foles.

Now adding Jackson, JJAW, and second-round pick Miles Sanders isn’t immediately going to vault Ertz from 97th overall in yards per reception in 2018 to first overall in 2019, but having to face less invasive coverage with more consistency should lead to more opportunities to pick up YAC and have an all-around more effective season.

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Now sure, could Zach Ertz still go off and even eclipse his numbers in 2019 for a second straight season as the NFL’s new tight end receptions record-setter? That is totally possible, but fortunately for all parties involved, he doesn’t have to set any records for the Philadelphia Eagles to earn a third straight postseason berth and compete once more for an NFL championship.