Considering the way the Eagles’ wide receivers have played since DeSean Jackson got hurt, why wouldn’t you double Zach Ertz and make somebody else beat you?
That’s what teams are doing to the Eagles right now, and to a large extent it’s working.
Ertz has seen more double teams than ever this year, in particular the last few weeks. His numbers are down — from 48-for-480 at this point last year to 33-for-366.
That in itself isn't a huge issue. Nobody expected him to catch another 116 passes this year. The problem is nobody has picked up the slack.
It's one of the big reasons the Eagles’ offense hasn’t been able to find a consistent rhythm since Jackson got hurt.
It’s frustrating at times, but I’ve got to focus on not allowing it to frustrate me,” Ertz said Wednesday. “Obviously, that just means I’ve got a lot of respect from the other (team). But at the same time, I'm not going to be satisfied with just being a guy out there. I'm going to focus on being better each and every week. I feel like I've played well at times, a little inconsistent.
Ertz is still fourth among NFL tight ends with 33 catches and sixth with 366 yards, and he’s on pace for just under 1,000 yards this year.
But we've yet to see him really go off this year. He's got an uncharacteristic three drops and had a costly fumble in Minnesota on Sunday.
“I feel like I've played pretty well,” he said. “Obviously, had a fumble last week that was unacceptable. Probably had one drop that was uncharacteristic, didn't really see the ball until late. Not an excuse by any means. But I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep pressing, and it’ll come.”
Ertz has gotten doubled at times throughout his seven-year career, but generally somebody else was there to take advantage of the single coverage and big plays.
This year, with Jackson out, the wide receivers have been largely quiet, and for whatever reason Dallas Goedert hasn’t put up big numbers either.
Ertz said all he can focus on is beating the double team and making plays no matter what coverages he’s seeing.
“If you have an out-breaking route, beat the guy that's on the outside,” he said. “If you have an in-breaking route, try and beat the guy on the inside. At the end of the day, they're putting two guys on you, other guys are going to make plays.”
It’s not like Ertz isn’t producing.
He’s one of only three players in the NFL who’s had 50 yards in every game. The others are Travis Kelce and Michael Thomas.
It’s just that six games in, nothing has come easy for him.
And the double teams aren't going to stop until other people start making enough plays to keep defenses honest.
I always know Zach’s going to get his, the same goes for Dallas, the same goes for Alshon (Jeffery), Nelson (Agholor), Mack (Hollins), Miles (Sanders),” Carson Wentz said. “We’re going to get everyone involved, and that’s what I think we do a really good job of. But there’ve been weeks sometimes they double him, they do different things, they cheat the safety toward him, and I don’t think overthink that and keep playing ball.
The Eagles don't have a wide receiver among the top-50 wideouts in the NFL in yards, and Agholor and Jeffery rank 71st and 79th in the NFL in yards per catch.
Ertz has 470 career catches. With 30 more, he’ll become the 17th tight end in NFL history with 500 catches.
Unless he gets a little help, it could take a while to get there.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.