The Atlanta Falcons haven’t given up less that 24 points at any point this season, this bodes well for the Eagles, especially Zach Ertz.
One of the bright spots in the Philadelphia Eagles 28-23 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday was tight end Zach Ertz. For the last three years, Eagles fans have watched the Stanford-product show the ability to make difficult catches. When Carson Wentz was drafted, fans salivated at the possible bond that they could create for years to come. Then, after former team quarterback Sam Bradford was traded, the excitement only escalated. In week one, Wentz hit Ertz six times for 58 yards. Unfortunately, Ertz would be injured in that game. He’d miss time while Wentz familiarized himself with being a starting quarterback in the NFL.
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Ertz would return from injury after the Eagles bye-week for their matchup against the Detroit Lions. In that game, he finished with three receptions for 37 yards, but he wouldn’t record more than one reception in a game again until the Eagles traveled to meet the Dallas Cowboys. In Dallas, Ertz would snag four catches for 19 yards. Then last week, Ertz and Wentz connected eight times for 97 yards. One of the most promising signs for fans had to be Wentz consistently kept looking for the tight end. Ertz even made difficult receptions when a Wentz pass sailed, or was short.
How can the Eagles pass on the Falcons?
Nov 6, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) makes a catch defended by New York Giants strong safety Landon Collins (21) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Tight ends have had a tendency to thrive against the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. Atlanta has allowed touchdowns to tight ends in five of their games. Jimmy Graham posted six receptions for 89 yards. Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates combined for six catches and 54 yards. At this point in the season, the Falcons have shown that they can be susceptible to above-average tight ends. With the likely success that MVP-candidate Matt Ryan will have against a porous Eagles secondary, Philly may need to pass often. That should create the opportunity for Wentz and Ertz to build off the apparent chemistry they showcased last week.
Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson spoke about the Eagles pass-heavy numbers the last few weeks. He agrees that having Wentz throw the ball over 40-times each in recent weeks isn’t a formula destined for success. This doesn’t negate the claim that Ertz could have a monster game on Sunday.
If the Eagles can establish the threat of a rushing attack, the Eagles should be able to create opportunities for play action. When this happens, the center of the field and the seams will open up and create opportunities for their athletic tight ends. The Falcons lack of success in defending tight ends could continue if the Eagles can substantiate a formidable rushing attack. In doing so, the Eagles will manufacture, both, time in the pocket for Wentz and natural throwing lanes to Ertz, who appears to becoming one of the young rookie’s favorite targets.