Zach Ertz (left) and Brent Celek each scored touchdowns in the Eagles' 49-20 win over the Raiders on Sunday. (AP)
Before the Eagles’ 49-point party on Sunday, Chip Kelly’s tight ends had a combined 12 catches for 98 yards and no touchdowns over the team’s previous three games — two of which were losses that the offense failed to score a touchdown.
But against the Raiders, Eagles tight ends totaled eight catches for 69 yards and two scores.
You know the rest — Nick Foles fired seven touchdown passes to tie the NFL single-game record and the Eagles’ offense looked unstoppable again.
And it all happened with the Eagles' tight ends having their best game of the season.
“It just opens everything up. When you have tight ends that can catch the football and make big plays down the football field, that’s what you really want,” Brian Westbrook said on Comcast SportsNet’s “Eagles Extra” on Monday. “You have DeSean Jackson, who’s going to be a force on the outside. You have LeSean McCoy, who’s going to be a force in the running game. Even Riley Cooper, obviously, can be a force in the passing game. But having the tight ends working that middle of the field, that’s going to open the guys up on the outside much more than they have been in the past.”
Brent Celek started the Eagles’ onslaught with a two-yard touchdown catch to hand the Birds a 7-0 lead. Rookie Zach Ertz followed the veteran Celek’s lead by hauling in a career-high five passes for 42 yards and his first NFL touchdown (see story).
The work over the middle by Celek and Ertz augmented the Eagles’ deep-ball threats as Jackson and Cooper did serious damage downfield with a combined 10 catches, 289 yards and four touchdowns (see story).
Interestingly enough, when Eagles tight ends catch a touchdown, the Birds are 3-0. When they don’t, the Eagles are 1-5.
“It’s important to see — Jason Avant is not playing as much, Zach Ertz has taken that position and he’s allowed to run those routes,” Westbrook said. “He’s matched up against linebackers and safeties — that’s an advantage for the Eagles and Chip Kelly has really taken advantage of it.”