How Zach Ertz Is Dealing With an Unusually Quiet Stretch

For a guy who never shows any frustration, it was a moment of frustration.

Zach Ertz was talking about his huge 18-yard catch down to the 3-yard-line Sunday in Buffalo that set up a late Jordan Howard touchdown run.

"Bummed I couldn't get into the end zone," he said. "Been that kind of start to the year for me personally. But who cares about that."

Obviously Ertz cares or he wouldn't have said it.

Ertz is as much of a team guy as there is in the locker room. But he's still human.

And it has been an unusually quiet stretch for Ertz, who last year set an NFL record for tight ends with 116 receptions but has just four in the last two games.

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It's the first time since early in 2016 he's had two or fewer catches in back-to-back games, and the first time since 2016 he's been targeted five or fewer times in back-to-back games.

He has 24 fewer catches and 220 fewer yards today than he did at this point last year.

Halfway through the season, Ertz is on pace for for 74 catches for 848 yards, which would be on par for his 2015 through 2017 numbers. Which were still pretty good.

But you would think with the outside receivers struggling so much to be productive, the ball would find Ertz a little bit more.

Even Dallas Goedert has been a bigger weapon the last few weeks. Goedert has 12-for-139 with two TDs the last three games, and Ertz is at 8-for-112 with no TDs during the same span.

Getting DeSean Jackson back should help open up the field because a healthy Jackson gives the Eagles a dimension of speed down the field they just don't have right now.

Jackson practiced Wednesday and looks likely to play Sunday against the Bears.

As for Ertz, he's waiting his turn.

Whenever they need me, I feel like I'll get open for them," Ertz said. "They need me, the balls will come. Not great, but we won the game. If that's what it takes, I'm down with that. Obviously, it's great when you have a bunch of catches and you win the game, but I'd rather win the game and have two catches than lose the game and have 15. Just trying to find a way to win the game. Whatever it takes.

 Ertz averaged 10 targets a game last year. He has a total of 13 over the last four weeks.

"We feel he's very much involved," Carson Wentz said. "Obviously last game, shoot, the throwing conditions were tough first and foremost and he didn't get a ton of targets and that's just the way it shook out. But he's always involved. He's always involved early in progressions and things like that. Sometimes defenses do things to take him away and the benefit that we have is that we have a lot of other guys that can make plays and get open. … Zach is who he is and he's going to draw some coverage, and we're still going to get him involved however we can."          

It's interesting that Ertz has at least two catches in 53 straight games, the longest streak ever by an NFL tight end. Jason Witten had a 51-game streak over the 2010 through 2013 seasons.

So he's still a part of things. Just not like we're all used to. 

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