By Lewis Gould

I always like it when a Philly athlete proves his detractors wrong.

In this case, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has had the rap that he only excels in December, when theoretically the Birds are playoffs toast.

Welcome to Zach Ertz 2.0!

Through four games, Ertz has team highs in catches (26), yards (326) and catch percentage (72.2). His 12.5 yards-per-catch average is the highest of his career.

Ertz also leads all NFL tight ends in catches and yards and ranks fifth among tight ends with at least 1o receptions in percentage of receptions that make first downs (65.4). Only two NFL receivers have more catches, and only four have more yards than Ertz.

Even more impressive than his receiving stats is the improvement in his run blocking. He used to come out when Pederson went big up front to aid the run. Against the Chargers, he played 76 percent of the snaps, as the Eagles had their best rushing total of the season.

“That’s the one thing that I appreciate about Zach is I think he’s gotten a bad rap about his run blocking, and he understands that,” Pederson said. “And he’s gotten stronger. He prides himself in getting better. And it was probably a weakness of his last year, those cut-off blocks, but now he’s getting his head across, his steps are better. And he’s really improved.”

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