Zach Ertz’s play acts as the oil to the engine of the Philadelphia Eagles offense.
One thing’s been certain all year. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, a first time pro bowler, led the NFC’s top seed in receiving this season with 824 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s definitely special, and he had, arguably, his best game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.
Though Ertz never hit paydirt, his eight receptions for 93 yards led all receivers in the contest. Not only that, Ertz posted the fourth highest grade of any player on “Championship Sunday,” leading all pass catchers.
When Ertz gets to soaring freely, the Eagles offense is as efficient as they come.
Take a moment and think about a few things.
Ertz hauls in three catches on Eagles second offensive series.
The beginning of the momentum shift actually happened during the Eagle’s possession that followed the pick-six. It was a tie ballgame at seven a piece towards the end of the first quarter. Then, on third and ten at the Minnesota 47, Ertz runs a sit-down route right at the first down marker in the zone between the secondary defender and flat player.
Trae Waynes, the first defender present in the Vikings secondary, runs through Ertz right as he catches the ball. That propels Ertz behind the line to gain. Ertz carries his momentum, sticks his foot in the ground, drives up-field for the additional two yards, and long-time voice of the franchise Merrill Reese bellows “FIRST DOWN EAGLES!”
On the very next play, he catches an eight yard in route with the defender draping over his back, putting the Eagles in a much more manageable position.
To top it off, he has another big first down catch on third and one, running a delayed arrow route for five yards down at the 11 yard line. The next play was a bruising rushing touchdown by Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount.
Ertz sets his team up for more.
With the ball at the opposing 31 yard line and 23 ticks remaining on the clock in the first half, Ertz runs a nice out and up route, leaving Harrison Smith, a 2017 First Team All Pro, in the dust. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles finds him wide open up the sideline for a 36-yard gain. This play gave the Eagles the opportunity to notch three more points before the half, and they did just that.
The third down king..
As mentioned above, Zach Ertz caught two passes on third down to move the chains on one possession. He would make two more first down worthy catches throughout the game. One was for 15 yards on third-and-eight where he completely “broke” the defenders ankles on an out route. The other was for six yards when Eagles were backed up to their own 14 yard line on third and four.
The Eagles converted 10 of 14 third downs throughout the game. 40% of those conversions were courtesy of Zach Ertz.
Short and Sweet..
Kudos goes out to Nick Foles, who played a flawless game as he led the Eagles to a Super Bowl berth. But honestly, without the playmaking tight end, they may have not had the chance to play on February 4th.