Eagles

Eagles needed every bit of Zach Ertz's vintage day

Eagles needed every bit of Zach Ertz's vintage day

On a day when the Eagles’ wide receivers had trouble functioning at an NFL level, there was Zach Ertz having a vintage Zach Ertz kind of day.
 
Ertz was virtually a one-man show in the win over the Bears with season highs of 9 catches and 103 yards with a 25-yard touchdown catch, his longest in five years.
 
The Eagles’ wideouts combined had 62 yards, catching 8 of 17 targets with four drops.
 
Ertz was targeted 11 times and caught 9.
 
Imagine where the Eagles would be without him.
 
“Obviously, it feels good to win and be a factor,” Ertz said. “I thought I played well in the passing game, I think I left some things to be desired in the run game, just in terms of not being exactly where I was supposed to be, so I take that a little harder. Overall, that’s a really good defense and we found a way to win. It feels good. Going into a bye, you just got to find a way to win. You can’t go into a bye with a loss or you’ll be thinking about it for 10 days or a week until you get back.”
 
Ertz was coming off consecutive inconsequential performances. He caught two passes against both the Cowboys and Bills, the first time that’s happened since 2016.
 
But on Sunday, when the Eagles desperately needed him, he came up big. He had four of the Eagles’ five-longest catches, and Dallas Goedert had the other.
 
When your wide receivers play this bad, your tight ends and running backs better come up huge, and they did.
 
“I think my connection with Zach is always really solid, really strong,” Carson Wentz said. “Some weeks it just shows up out there more than others.”
 
It had been a while since Ertz got to enjoy a win from both a personal and a team perspective.
 
You have to go back to the Jets game a month ago to find a game where he put up good numbers in a win.
 
His frustration bubbled over a bit after the win in Buffalo last weekend, but it’s understandable when you’re used to catching seven or eight passes a game and the ball just isn't finding you.
 
“I was frustrated that we were losing games, obviously,” he said. “That was more the frustrating thing. I’ve said it a million times, I don’t care if I get two catches if we win the game. But I take it personally when we lose, especially kind of the way we lost those two games (to the Vikings and Cowboys) in particular, so the frustration is obviously going to come out in some ways. My body language was probably not great in those games, so I was just happy to come out here and be a big factor in the win today. I thought I played well." 

Ertz isn’t going to catch 116 passes again, but his 46 receptions are 4th-most in the NFL among tight ends, and if he can average 67 yards the rest of the season he’ll have a second straight 1,000-yard season.
 
“He definitely was targeted a little bit more in this game and rightfully so,” Doug Pederson said. “When you throw him the ball, he can catch it. … He ran really good routes today. He was tough. He was physical. Made some contested catches and that's who Zach is, and it was good to see.”
 
Five of Wentz’s first 11 completions went to Ertz. By then, the Eagles were up 12-0 on their way to a 22-14 win.
 
Nobody else on the team even had 40 receiving yards.
 
“I feel like I just got my number called early and that kind of carried over,” Ertz said. “Once you get confidence as a pass catcher, that’s huge. I was able to have a couple good ones early and they just kept coming to me.”
 
The 100-yard game was the 12th of Ertz’s career. That’s 12th-most ever by a tight end.

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In his 100th career game, he increased his career total to 483 receptions, third-most ever by a tight end after 100 games, behind only Kellen Winslow Sr. (497) and Jimmy Graham (485).
 
Ertz is now 106 catches behind all-time Eagles record holder Harold Carmichael. At his pace over the last five years, he’ll catch Carmichael late next year. Which is remarkable.
 
He’s one of the best tight ends ever, and Sunday afternoon, when the Eagles needed him the most, he delivered.

Eagles might play a road game in Mexico City in 2020 NFL season

Eagles might play a road game in Mexico City in 2020 NFL season

The Arizona Cardinals announced Friday that one of their home games in 2020 will take place at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, which means the Eagles might play in Mexico City in 2020.

Fun! (Probably.)

Just two years after playing the Jaguars in London, the Eagles are one of six possible opponents for the Cardinals' game in Mexico. ESPN's Josh Weinfuss is reporting Friday that the Lions and Dolphins will not be the opponent:

This will mark the fifth straight season that the NFL has a game scheduled for Estadio Azteca, and the 13th time a game has been scheduled at Estadio Azteca all-time.

The Eagles actually have a super interesting, and kind of wacky, history with Mexico City games. 

They were scheduled to face the Detroit Lions in an exhibition on Aug. 11, 1968, which would've marked the first football game ever played in Mexico City, but the game was cancelled - without much explanation, according to the Associated Press. Half the stadium's tickets were going for about 40 cents at the time, according to the AP.

Ten years later, the Eagles actually ended up participating in the first NFL game held in Mexico City after all, a 14-7 exhibition loss to the Saints. According to Ron Jaworski, the locker rooms were tiny and the goal posts were crooked, which sounds fun.

All-time, the Eagles are 2-3 in international games, a record that probably doesn't mean much because they've played outside of the country once since 1993 - and that was a win.

Vamos Eagles.

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How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

The 2020 wide receiver draft picture got a lot more interesting Thursday night.

Alabama’s Henry Ruggs did his thing and ran 4.28 when the receivers ran their 40's at the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. He didn't break John Ross's record of 4.22, but he certainly did nothing to hurt his draft status. 

Neither did his college teammate, Jerry Jeudy, or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. They remain the consensus top three receivers in the draft, and the Eagles, who have the 21st pick in the first round, would likely have to trade up to draft any of them.

But a few receivers helped themselves with their performances in Indy and a few may have hurt their stock as well, and it all could definitely affect the receiver-starved Eagles’ strategy in April.

HELPED THEMSELVES

JUSTIN JEFFERSON, LSU: Joe Burrow’s favorite target ran much faster than expected with a 4.43. We already know he’s productive - he caught a ridiculous 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns - and he backed that up with a faster 40 time than Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. How much that helps him remains to be seen, but he definitely helped himself.

CHASE CLAYPOOL, NOTRE DAME: There’s been talk about the 6-4, 240-pound Claypool moving to tight end, but then he went out and ran 4.42, which according to the Next Gen Stats twitter feed makes him the first receiver over 230 pounds to run sub-4.45 since Calvin Johnson in 2007. He also caught the ball well and performed well in the other drills. 

DENZEL MIMS, BAYLOR: Mims opened a lot of eyes with a 4.38 Thursday night to cap an overall excellent performance. Only Ruggs and Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins ran faster. Mims was generally considered a second-round talent before the Combine but running 4.38 at 6-3, 210 pounds could push him into the first round. 

HURT THEMSELVES

JALEN REAGOR, TEXAS CHRISTIAN: Reagor, whose father Montae played for the Eagles in 2007, said he planned to run faster than Ruggs: “That’s my plan. He runs after me. I’m going to set the bar for him.”  He also said he expected to run “high 4.2, low 4.3.”  Then he ran 4.47, a full fifth of a second slower than Ruggs. He followed that with a 4.50. How much that hurts him remains to be seen, but it wasn’t what anybody was expecting. 

TEE HIGGINS, CLEMSON: Higgins told reporters at the Combine that he was planning to prove a lot of people wrong with his 40:  “My goal is to hit a 4.4. A lot of guys think I’m gonna run a 4.5 or 4.6, but I’m excited to change people’s minds.” Then without explanation he didn’t run or participate in any drills Thursday night. Not good. 

LAVISKA SHENAULT JR., COLORADO: After a slower-than-expected 4.58 on his first try, Shenault skipped his second 40 and didn’t participate in the other drills, presumably because of the core muscle injury that cost him a couple games during the season. Shenault was considered a late first-round or early second-rounder. He’ll have a chance to bounce back at his pro day, but he didn’t help himself Thursday.

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