By PATRICK ROWLEY
Last week, Zach Ertz was held below 40 yards for just the fourth time this season but the second consecutive week. Before these two games (in which he managed to pull in just 8 of his 15 targets), Ertz was on pace to finish with 124 receptions, which would have put him at fifth-most in a season all-time. He is now on pace for 115, which would still put him in the top 20 for receptions in a season and break Jason Witten’s single-season record for receptions by a tight end (110).
Over the last two seasons, Ertz has seen an extra half-target per game with Nick Foles under center (9.2) than Carson Wentz (8.7), but these are, on average, shorter throws.
|Passes to Zach Ertz – Last 2 Seasons|
|Yards per target||5.7||8|
|Yards per reception||8.2||11|
|Yards per game||52.2||70|
|1st down pct||34%||65%|
Perhaps the biggest difference in his production between quarterbacks can be attributed to plays in the red zone. Ertz has proven to be an excellent red zone target with his size and hands, assets that led him to ranking 15th in red zone targets last season (17) and tied for fifth this season (23).
With Foles at quarterback, Ertz’s red zone targets per game of 1.8 is a half-target per game higher than with Wentz (1.3), but he is not converting them to receptions, let alone touchdowns. Forty-five percent of the time Wentz has targeted Ertz in the red zone the last two seasons (13-out-of-29) it has resulted in a touchdown, compared to just nine percent with Foles (1-of-11).
At first glance, the difference in completion percentage is eye popping (69 percent in the red zone for Wentz, 36 percent for Foles), but a closer look at on-target pass percentage indicates the onus for this difference could be more on Ertz than Foles. In red zone situations Foles has a 73 percent on-target pass percentage, reasonably close to Wentz’s 82 percent.
The Rams also provided a difficult matchup last week, as they have allowed the third-lowest QB rating against when opposing QBs target tight ends (70). This week, the Eagles will face a Texans team that is on the other end of the spectrum, allowing a rating of 114 in the same situation (26th in the league). This game will also be at home for the Eagles where Ertz’s receiver rating is 110 (compared to 81 on the road). If you believe in Ertz’s ability to catch passes, there’s a good opportunity for a bounce-back here.