SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, England — He won’t talk about it. He can’t talk about it.
The reality is, Zach Ertz is having one of the greatest seasons a tight end has ever had.
Ertz’s relationship with Eagles fans is an odd one. All he does is produce huge numbers and yet, the focus by many fans is on a misguided belief that he somehow should be picking up more yards after the catch.
He caught the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship ever, and has followed that up with the hottest start an NFL tight end has ever had.
And yet a good portion of fans choose to focus on the fact Ertz doesn’t make a habit out of heroically busting out of tackles while carrying two linebackers and a safety on his back for an extra yard.
The reality is, Ertz is having a remarkable season by any measure.
“Having Zach out there, my favorite attribute about him is how smart he is,” Carson Wentz said Friday at the Hazelton rugby complex. “He’s sometimes asking for the check before I even make a check. We’re in each other’s minds with that stuff.
“Just knowing where he’s going to be, knowing his body language and how he plays, that’s big for us. We’re great friends and that just really helps us out on the field as well. We have great chemistry.”
Let’s look at the numbers:
• Going into the Eagles’ game, Ertz has 57 catches for 630 yards. The 57 catches are six more than any tight end has ever had after seven games. The 618 yards are sixth-most all-time, 56 fewer than Jimmy Graham’s record 674 in 2011.
• Ertz is averaging 8.1 catches per game. He needs to average exactly 6.0 the rest of the year to break Jason Witten’s record of 110 catches in a season by a tight end, set in 2012. He’s on pace for 1,412 yards, which would break the single-season record of 1,327, set in 2011 by Rob Gronkowski.
• Ertz now has 378 receptions, already seventh-most ever by a tight end in his first six seasons. He needs 57 more catches to break Graham’s record of 434 catches by a tight end in his first six seasons.
• Ertz already has eight career games with 10 or more catches. The only tight ends with more are Tony Gonzalez (15), Witten (11) and Ozzie Newsome (11).
• Going back to last year’s playoffs, Ertz has nine straight games with five or more catches. That ties the NFL record for tight ends set in 2012 by Jason Witten. It also ties the Eagles record with Irving Fryar and Brian Westbrook.
Ertz has already moved up from 11th to fifth in Eagles history in career receptions, trailing only Harold Carmichael (589), Pete Retzlaff (452), Brian Westbrook (426) and Brent Celek (398).
Ertz is understandably reluctant to talk about his personal achievements while the Eagles are 3-4 and losers of three of their last four games:
I think it’s tough to focus on individual stuff right now. It’s tough in the sense that even if I go out there and have 10 catches in a loss it doesn’t matter. I’d much rather have two catches and win than 10 catches in a loss. I’m just trying to do everything I can to put the team in a position to win football games. Carson and I are seeing the game extremely similar. If you’re able to see the game the same way with the quarterback — and that only develops over time — then you’re able to be successful. When you’re playing with a guy like Carson that obviously helps. But we’ve got to win football games and that’s what matters to me right now. After the season, hopefully in February, I’ll be able to talk more about that.
Nobody gets more out of their ability than Ertz. Nobody prepares harder than Ertz. Nobody is more of a leader than Ertz.
It’s time for people to start focusing on all the positives he brings to the table instead of a perceived negative.
Ertz is just 27 years old and in his sixth season, but he’s already an all-time great Eagle.
If you don’t like it, too bad.
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