By Harry Allison
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz rebounded nicely, thank you very much, from the week-long criticism he endured after apparently giving up on a block in last week’s game against the Bengals.
Ertz led all receivers with 10 catches on 13 targets for 112 yards, including a 29-yard gain in yesterday’s 27-22 loss to the Redskins.
“It wasn’t anything about last week,” coach Doug Pederson said of Ertz’s increased role in yesterday’s game-plan. “It’s just he’s one of our play-makers. [We] try to get the ball in his hands as much as we can. Early in the game is obviously better than later. He really stepped up and really did a nice job this week. He had a great week of practice. [He] did a good job this week.”
Ertz certainly performed like one of the team’s play-makers, just one week after Ertz appeared to bail out on a block of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a scramble by Carson Wentz.
“Everyone deals with adversity in different ways,” Ertz said of the criticism he took in the fallout of the loss to the Bengals. “I am not going to let one play define my career – good or bad. Obviously there was a lot of hoopla surrounding that play last week and I just wanted to tell my teammates that I got their back regardless of what is going on, on the outside. I was focused on being the best tight end I could be today and being the best teammate I could be. I think I did that today.”
Over the course of the last six games, Ertz has caught 42 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns.
Ertz has quickly become Carson Wentz’s favorite target, especially as injuries have ravaged the Eagles’ inconsistent wide receivers in recent weeks.
“We are learning on the fly,” Ertz said of his burgeoning chemistry with Wentz. “We didn’t really get a lot of reps during the pre-season so everything has been kind of building and building with a lot of the guys. Jordan [Matthews] has picked his game up. Trey [Burton] has had a couple of great weeks. I picked my game up. I think we are going to continue to build. Carson [Wentz] is a heck of a talent and we have a lot of talent at the skill positions.
“The most important thing between a wide receiver, tight end and quarterback is the chemistry and having the trust to be where you are supposed to be and when. That just happens over time. People made a big deal that I wasn’t getting the ball at the beginning, but we are putting in the work each and every day. Ultimately, we play the game to win and we are really frustrated we have lost a couple games in a row now.”