Eagles

Zach Ertz's silent season continues: 'My number just not being called'

Zach Ertz's silent season continues: 'My number just not being called'

ARLINGTON, Texas — Zach Ertz’s nightmare 2016 continued Sunday night, when the fourth-year tight end had just 19 receiving yards, his third straight game below 25 yards.

Ertz, who had 702 yards in 2014 and 853 last year, has just 150 in five games this year and is on pace for a career-low 420.

“My number is just not being called right now,” Ertz said. “I’ll never second-guess the coaches. I’ll never second-guess Carson (Wentz). That’s just the way the games have gone.

“Obviously, you want to be involved each and every play. But that’s not really the case right now.”

Ertz had 469 yards as a rookie. Over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he ranked sixth among all NFL tight ends with 1,555 receiving yards.

And he had catches of 13 and 14 yards on the Eagles’ first drive of this season against the Browns. Those remain two of his four-longest catches this year.

Ertz had just one catch in the Washington and Minnesota games and was just 4-for-19 Sunday night in the overtime loss in Dallas.

In Ertz’s defense, he’s just not being targeted nearly as much as in the past.

In 2014 and 2015, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford targeted Ertz an average of 6.5 times per game. This year, that number is down to 4.0 per game.

And when Ertz does catch the ball, he’s either not in open space or he’s been unable to break loose of a tackler.

Ertz doesn’t have a catch longer than 22 yards this year after piling up 19 receptions of 23 yards or more in his first three NFL seasons.

He did miss two games with an injury, but Ertz — after ranking sixth among all tight ends the last two years — now ranks 32nd with 15 catches and 31st in yards.

“I’m just out there trying to do my job, block to the best of my ability, get up when my name is called for a pass play and catch the ball when it’s in the air,” Ertz said.

“That’s all I can do. Be ready when the ball comes my way. Everything else is out of my control.”

It’s not like the other tight ends are doing anything either. Brent Celek has one catch for seven yards in the last four games, and Trey Burton is 3-for-18 in the last four games.

Asked Sunday night at his locker at AT&T Stadium if he's frustrated, Ertz said: "I'm frustrated when we lose. This was a game that we feel like we should have won, and we didn't. That's what's frustrating to me."

Titans love to run, which will play right into Eagles' hands

ap_jordan_hicks_eagles.jpg
AP Images

Titans love to run, which will play right into Eagles' hands

In an era where the average team throws 41 times a game and runs 24 times a game, the Tennessee Titans are a rare exception to NFL convention.

They run more than they throw. Way more.

The Titans love to run. Which should play right into the Eagles’ hands Sunday, when they face the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

The Titans are averaging 32.7 rushing attempts per game so far, second-most in the league (they have one carry fewer than the Redskins). But they’re only 24th in yards per carry (3.7).

It’s an anachronistic way of operating an offense in the NFL these days.

So far, the Titans have run 54 percent of the time and thrown just 46 percent.

The league averages are 37 and 63.

So Tennessee runs 27 percent more than the average 2018 NFL team.

They’re averaging six more rushing attempts per game through three weeks than passing attempts.

The combination of a very good defense and ball control means the Titans want to win low-scoring games, like they did Sunday, 9-6 over Jacksonville.

They’ve only scored three offensive TDs this year, but they’re 2-1.

The Titans are the only NFL team that hasn’t scored or allowed more than 50 points, and they’re actually only the third team to do that after three games in the last nine years.

But in the Eagles, the Titans will see the best rushing defense in the league.

Since 2016, they’ve allowed an NFL-low 89 rushing yards per game. This year, that number is an NFL-best 61.7, their lowest since 2008.

At their current pace, the Eagles will become only the 11th team since 1960 to allow fewer than 1,300 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.

The Eagles have faced 54 runs so far this year, only four for 10 yards or more and only two of those by running backs.

Nobody has even rushed for 40 yards against the Eagles in their last five games, the first time that’s happened since the last two games of 2002 and the first five games of 2003.

The Eagles haven’t allowed a second-half run over nine yards this year and just one over six yards.

So a team that wants to run far more than it throws is about to take on a historically great rush defense.

“They are committed to the run,” Jim Schwartz said. “They've invested a lot of resources in it.

“Drafted a couple offensive lineman, offensive tackles (in the first round). They’ve got a veteran offensive line. They have a Heisman Trophy running back. They had probably their premier free-agent pick-up this year, Dion Lewis, and they have a running quarterback.

“So obviously it's what they want to do and they're committed to it, so it's our job to combat that. … So our goal is to get opponents stopped. However we do it, we do it.”

Lewis is the Titans’ leading rusher with 143 yards but only 3.7 per carry. Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner for Alabama, has 139 yards but only a 3.0 average.

QB Marcus Mariota is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and has a 5.9 career average, ninth-highest in NFL history.

He’s really the Titans’ only threat in the backfield.

“He's probably the fastest quarterback in the NFL right now,” Schwartz said. “Looks like a 40-yard dash he's running so fast.”

More on the Eagles

How the heck did Sidney Jones make this crazy play?

ap-sidney-jones.jpg
AP Images

How the heck did Sidney Jones make this crazy play?

As I rewatched the Eagles’ 20-16 win over the Colts from Sunday, there was one play that I kept coming back to. 

It was a play from Sidney Jones late in the third quarter that I found to be pretty amazing. 

After he saw the tape, Jones thought so too. 

“Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s a crazy play,” Jones said. “But it’s a good play.”

Jones said that every once in a while, he’ll make a play that even surprises him when he goes back and watches the film. 

“Especially that one,” Jones said. “I’ve never done anything like that before. That was a good play for me.” 

At the snap, Jones gets chopped by Ryan Grant, but somehow doesn’t go to the ground. 

“I made (an) athletic play and caught myself,” Jones said, “and it was a like a leap-frog-looking type of play.”

From there, the 22-year-old nickel cornerback needed to go through offensive lineman Denzell Good, who outweighs him by 164 pounds. So Jones basically tried to tackle Good and Zac Pascal, who caught the receiver screen. 

Jones said he just tried to grab whatever he could. That meant his left arm went around Good and his right arm went around Pascal, which didn’t bring the runner to the ground, but did slow him up. 

It’s a shame that Jones didn’t even show up in the box score for this play. Jalen Mills came down and make the tackle on Pascal after a three-yard gain. Two plays later, the Colts settled for a field goal. 

If Jones doesn’t slow down this play and if he gets wiped out by that chop block, it leaves a 1-on-1 block for Pascal with a chance to go for a touchdown. It was a huge play from Jones and I’ll probably watch it another hundred times or so.

More on the Eagles