Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz’s hamstring could make or break the season

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

If Zach Ertz’s questionable hamstring takes a turn for the worse, it could cot the Philadelphia Eagles their postseason future.

Over the last few months, Zach Ertz hasn’t been a vital cog in the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense, he’s pretty much been their entire offense.

Now granted, that isn’t something to be particularly proud of, as the Eagles offense has been an absolute mess since their bye week, but still, could you imagine how much worse it would be without number 86 on the field?

Unfortunately, we may soon have to find out.

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You see, after playing 84 percent of the team’s snaps in Week 12, Ertz has been listed as questionable with a hamstring injury in the lead up to the team’s trip to Miami. While he will try to go on Sunday per Ian Rapoport, that isn’t a particularly promising designation, even if Julie’s husband looked pretty good in a recent airport appearance alongside his teammates.

To be fair, the team should still win handily over the hapless Miami Dolphins regardless of Ertz’s status, but don’t expect it to be easy.

Why? Ertz is an essential part of the team’s offense even when he isn’t catching the ball.

First the obvious: Zach Ertz is the Eagles’ best pass catcher. He kind of holds an NFL record for it. When the team needs a chunk play, some instant offense, or to pick up a vital third or even fourth down he has consistently been the man for the job during the Doug Pederson-era.

With Ertz off the field, Carson Wentz loses his safety blanket, but the team also loses a solid chunk of their playbook.

Regardless of how you feel about Dallas Goedert in relation to Ertz – I personally prefer the South Dakota State product for his abilities as a blocker and his tough disposition – playing the duo together creates a look that very few teams across the NFL can block consistently. While the team did elevate 2018 contributor Josh Perkins off the practice squad to have a third tight end option, any 12-personnel package without Ertz loses a good deal of its fire.

Heck, without Ertz on the field, opposing defenses can straight up play the Eagles offense differently.

You see, many opposing defensive coordinators have made a habit out of double-teaming Ertz in the middle of the field, oftentimes with a linebacker and a safety. While this isn’t particularly common, as most teams opt to double-team star wide receivers or speedsters, many coaches across the NFL respect Ertz enough to make it hard for him play-in and play-out. Without the seventh-year Stanford Cardinal on the field or in the fray, coaches can play a more conventional defensive front, and drop that linebacker/safety into coverage, stack them in the box, or even use them as an additional pass rusher.

Lane Johnson or no Lane Johnson, the Eagles haven’t exactly been great at keeping Wentz upright so far this season.

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Ultimately, the Philadelphia Eagles should be fine in Week 13 whether Zach Ertz plays one snap or 100, but if this hamstring injury becomes reaggravated or worsens in any way, it could spell disaster for the team’s hopes of overtaking the Dallas Cowboys for their rightful spot atop the NFC East.