Eagles overreactions: Is Zach Ertz done being an elite tight end in the NFL?
Overreactions of the eagles: is Ertz finished as an elite TE? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Well that was weird.
The Eagles appeared to be on their way to a dramatic win over their Pennsylvania rivals until the gears stalled and they lost 38-29 despite a rather entertaining back-and-forth game.
Here are three overreactions from the third loss to the birds of the year ... except that they may not be overreactions:
1. This game shows that the Eagles can hang out with good teams
The Eagles went into that game 1-2-1, the Steelers 3-0. Three minutes before the end of the game, the Eagles were two points behind. The fact that they lost this game when it was fully winnable isn't ideal - you have to win games when they're running late - but they were in a close game against a good team, which is progress, or ?
The Steelers have made it their business this season to beat average to bad teams in games that are closer than they should be. Pittsburgh had an unexpected goodbye week that could break their rhythm, but which should also prepare them better than usual for an opponent like the Eagles.
I'm not convinced the Steelers are a really good team. The vaunted defense could not keep Travis Fulgham (more about him later) under control or consistently disturb Carson Wentz, although he played against a very battered and inexperienced offensive line. Statistically speaking, Wentz played his best game of the year on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh offense also benefited greatly from an Eagles team that simply can't cover talented pass catchers like Chase Claypool, who was inexplicably mated by Nate Gerry in the most important game of the game. These aren't the Steelers who stand out. Jim Schwartz and the Eagles fail.
The bottom line is that the Eagles are 1-3-1 and there is another good team on the agenda next week in Baltimore. You have to win games, not just with teams, good or not.
2. Zach Ertz is no longer a top 5 tight end
Here are seven tight endings I would definitely adopt to Zach Ertz right now:
I would also consider taking Noah Fant and Mike Gesicki.
Ertz just didn't look like a useful close end to this season. He was never a sporty specimen, but throughout his career he has been a racing driver who is always in the right place when his quarterback needs him. Instead, Ertz and Carson Wentz didn't come to the site more than once this year, not even more than once on Sunday. This week, the breakup - and Ertz's inability to get to the right place on time - led to an interception. He doesn't do the things that made him a reliable option.
He's also looked a step slower on most of the tracks this season, which is compounded by this daunting trend:
When you add a loss of athleticism to a loss of basics, you see a serious problem.
Ertz, who will turn 30 next month, now has 20 catches for 145 yards and one touchdown over five weeks, including just five catches for 15 yards in the past two weeks combined. Those numbers would be even lower if Dallas Geodert hadn't been injured.
Goedert is the future of the tight final position for the Eagles, and if Ertz doesn't show us something soon, I wouldn't hesitate to fast-forward this plan as early as next year.
3. Travis Fulgham is a legitimate NFL recipient
With a string of injuries to the likes of Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Jalen Reagor, it was hard to get excited about any of the guys who pitched the Eagles at Wide Receiver this week.
A loss is a loss, but Travis Fulgham set up a game for the record books on Sunday, catching 10 balls for 152 yards and a touchdown. It was the kind of game you will long remember where a man is adding his name to a fanbase's history for the foreseeable future.
Fulgham, a six-round goal last year that had no career catch when the Eagles signed him earlier this year, is now the Eagles' best wide receiver option after five weeks.
And it wasn't just an accumulation of dink-and-dunk either: Fulgham made controversial catches, opened against a great defense, and caught the clutch's third pass after the clutch's third pass. He's 25 years old, a solid 6-2,215 pound height, and suddenly he's the most exciting part of birds passing away.
Oh, and here is a factoid from Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia to make you ponder how the Eagles find their broad receivers:
What's happening? I'm not sure, but it's fun. Fulgham fever forever.
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