Even though Zach Ertz has undeniably come to be a single of the leagues premier pass-catchers, other elements of his play have brought on several a debate. His capability to block, specifically in the operating game, has been questioned given that he entered the league and sometimes he’s even accused of taking a play off. Even though I usually feel of these doubts in the very same vein as “haters gonna hate” a thing lately caught my interest. Pro Football Concentrate graded Evan Engram (76.five) greater than they graded Zach Ertz (76.) for the 2018 season.

Now, as you could recall, I lately graded Ertz as the finest tight finish in the division, so naturally, I wanted to get to the bottom of this lunacy and locate out what precisely it is that Engram does much better than Ertz.

Now I know what you are considering… “Why are we comparing somebody who had just 45 receptions to our boy, Zach, who caught 116 passes for 1163 yards and eight touchdowns?” Since cumulative stat lines are irrelevant and misleading, that is why. Had Engram been thrown the ball 156 occasions like Ertz was, his stat line would have been a thing to the tune of 110 receptions for 1406 yards and 7 touchdowns, assuming he maintained his reception price, his yards/target price, and his touchdowns per target price. Now that is adequate for proof of idea, but let’s quit playing what-if and take a appear at what in fact occurred.

A single criticism of Ertz we’ve all heard is that he does not get any yards right after the catch (YAC), and right here is the truth, people he ranked 38th out of 41 tight ends final year with just three.two YAC per reception. Evan Engram, on the other hand, ranked 2nd all round with eight.7 YAC per reception. Now it is a single point to just appear at these raw stats and make snap judgments about them, but its a fully distinctive discussion when you can in fact clarify what occurred and why.

My 1st believed was that if Engram is collecting about 3 occasions the YAC per reception, he should be breaking substantially far more tackles. In 2018, Engram broke six tackles and Ertz broke two. Each of these pale in comparison to George Kittle who led all TEs with 17 broken tackles. Now to be fair, we need to appear at these as broken tackles per reception, given that the cumulative numbers will usually be skewed due to the discrepancy of targets involving the two tight ends. Right here is how the two examine in terms of Avoided Tackles per Reception:

Avoided Tackle Information per Pro Football Concentrate

Yikes. In 2018, Engram broke tackles more than 7 occasions far more regularly than Ertz did. Engram fell just above the league typical, even though Ertz was a single of the worst tight ends in the game in this regard.

Even though this discrepancy does not bode effectively for Ertz, breaking tackles is not the only dependent variable in the equation that tends to make up YAC up reception. When a receiver catches the ball, they will be a specific distance from the defender that ends up attempting to tackle them, and this is a element that should be accounted for. Thanks to the quite amazing Subsequent Gen Stats by the NFL, I located the following information:

Double yikes. Engram and Ertz are each provided six.1 yards on typical just before the ball is snapped, but Engram finds a way to get a league-major (amongst WRs & TEs, at least) four.four yards of separation, even though Zach Ertz is far more than a yard shy of Engram with three.two yards of separation. Even though this explains exactly where at least 1 of the five.five YAC per Reception distinction involving the two comes from, it does so in a way that shows Engram earned it. What is even far more startling is the YAC Above Expectation metric. Compared to expectation, Engram is in a position to earn just about three far more yards per reception. Ertz, on the other hand, earns just about a yard much less than what is anticipated. For what it is worth, Engram is anticipated to get six.1 YAC per reception even though Ertz is only anticipated to get four.two YAC per reception. This indicates that Engram is usually in a much better position to gather far more yards, but once more, it seems he is in a much better position due to his capability to get separation at a league-major level.

Even though the information appears to show that Engram was a much better route runner and ball carrier, let’s take a appear at how the two examine in a selection of other scenarios.

In scenarios exactly where the receiver is contested by 1 or far more defender even though attempting to full the catch, Ertz caught 12 of 32 passes for 81 yards and two TDs. QBs throwing his way in these scenarios threw for a passer rating of 40.six. Similarly, when Engram was targeted even though contested, he caught three of 12 for 21 yards. QBs throwing to him even though contested had a passer rating of 38.six.

In scenarios exactly where QBs threw a “catchable ball”, Ertz caught 116 of 128 for 1160 yards and eight TDs when led to QBs getting a passer rating of 125.three. For Engram, when thrown a catchable ball, he brought in 47 of 53 for 612 yards and three TDs when was fantastic for a passer rating of 133.7.

When facing press coverage, Ertz caught 14 of 21 for 112 yards and a QB rating of 79.9. In the very same predicament, Engram caught five of 9 for 30 yards and a TD which led to a QB rating of 99.three.

When facing NFC East opponents, Zach Ertz caught 45 balls for 424 yards and four touchdowns which gave his QBs a passer rating of 107.9. When facing the very same opponents, Engram caught 21 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns which was fantastic for a QB rating of 133..

Now, I do not know that I’m prepared to admit, or even accept, that Evan Engram is a much better receiver than Zach Ertz, but these stats certain make you wonder, do not they? Even though catching passes is the principal job of tight ends these days (at least ones in the make of Ertz and Engram), it is not all they do.

The other portion of a tight end’s offensive duties is blocking. Even though blocking is usually a quite tough point to quantify, our mates at PFF do their finest to do precisely that. PFF gave Engram a 73.three pass-blocking grade, which slightly edges out the 72.three they gave Ertz. Ertz permitted three quarterback pressures on 55 pass-blocking snaps (five.five%), even though Engram permitted just 1 stress on 19 snaps (five.three%). In terms of pass-blocking, it seems the two have been neck and neck. In run-blocking scenarios, Engram earned a grade of 60.six and Ertz earned a grade of just 50.four. Even though these grades are far from the final verdict, it is exciting to see the young New York tight finish edge out Ertz in just about all categories.

Large thanks to Pro Football Concentrate, Pro-Football-Reference, and NFL Subsequent Gen Stats for their information which was vital to this short article. Please note that all stats made use of in this short article have been from the 2018 normal season, so I do not want to hear you say how “Ertz faced playoff competitors which knocked his numbers back” or something like that.