Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz finally returns to his record-breaking form

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After a slow start to the 2019 season, Zach Ertz has finally given Philadelphia Eagles fans a glimpse of why he’s the NFL’s all-time tight end catch leader.

Good news Philadelphia Eagles fans: Zach Ertz is finally back.

Granted, it’s not like Ertz went anywhere, as the seventh-year pro has appeared in every game since 2017, but after slumping his way through the first eight weeks of the season, the ex-Stanford Cardinal has finally returned to his 2018 form.

Maybe it was the black jerseys, but in the Eagles’ first game back at the Linc since October 6th, Ertz and Carson Wentz rekindled their former bromance en route to nine catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

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And in the best development of the afternoon, Ertz actually picked up a chunk of his yards after the catch.

While 106 yards is far from Ertz’s career-high – that 152-yard performance happened on the final game of the 2015 season – it was his first 100 yard showing since 2018, and only his 12th professional game over the century mark.

Just for context, the Eagles haven’t had a 100-yard receiver since Nelson Agholor hit 107 in the team’s now unthinkable loss to the hapless Atlanta Falcons.

But this game was unlike any so far this season, and effectively set a blueprint for how to utilize Ertz’s skill set over the back half of the season.

You see, unlike in previous weeks where Ertz was seldom targeted in the first half, Doug Pederson went to his offensive safety blanket early and often in the first half – amassing three catches for 36 yards in the first quarter and two more for 36 and a touchdown before halftime.

Now it should be rather obvious that a team’s most reliable offensive weapon should be targeted often throughout a game, but over the last two years, that hasn’t been the case.

In 2018, Ertz was targeted 156 times by Wentz and Nick Foles, or about 9.75 times a game. While that seems like a lot, it proved to be the team’s most consistently reliable play and led the 28-year-old to break the NFL’s record for most catches by a tight end in a season.

However, in 2019, things took a major turn for Ertz and company.

Call it a market correction – either by the Birds or opposing defensive coordinators – but Ertz’s average catches, targets, and yards per game dropped considerably – with the team seemingly forgetting to throw him the ball for entire quarters.

This new formula of getting Ertz two-to-three targets a quarter feels just right, as it both keeps the chains moving and prevents the offensive assault from becoming one-dimensional.

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Despite falling out of favor with some fans, and fantasy football owners (more on that here), Zach Ertz can still be an incredibly effective player when used correctly. Hopefully Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles can use their Week 9 game plan as a blueprint to make that happen moving forward.