Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz Should Be Living In The Weight Room

ZachErtz2The most important receiver on the Eagles roster right now, might not be any of their wide receivers, despite the fact that they will have promising second-year pass catcher, Jordan Matthews and 2015 first round draft pick, Nelson Agholor lining up somewhere.  The guy who might take over this year is third-year tight end Zach Ertz.

He’s got everything you would want in a receiving target.  He’s 6’5, with deceptive speed and great quickness in and out of his cuts.  Ertz does a great job of catching the football with his hands and he knows how to run a pass route, from finding open spaces in zone coverages to using his body to screen off a defender versus man-to-man.

The former Stanford Cardinal and second-round draft pick in 2013 had a break out game in 2014, when he caught 15 passes for 115 yards against the Washington Redskins.  In the 2014 season, he caught 58 passes for 702 yards with three touchdown grabs, despite playing only 50% of the plays.  His struggles as a blocker have allowed veteran tight end Brent Celek to keep his hold on the starting tight end position.  Celek is a warrior and he’s not going to give Ertz the starting spot, the youngster is going to have to take it.

According to Jeff McLane of Philly.com, Ertz reached out to a former USC teammate of mine, Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott and Ronnie put him in touch with Hudson Houck, who coached Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews, while we were at Southern Cal.  Houck was also the offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys when won three Super Bowls in the 1990’s. Houck worked with Ertz for a couple of weeks to give him the fundamentals of blocking.

I’m sure Houck taught him as much as he knows about technique, but you need strong arms and hands to control the monsters that roam along the defensive fronts in the NFL.  Blocking in the NFL is really nothing but holding, but you must be able to grab the defender on the inside of his pads and control him, so that he can’t pull away.  If you can’t bench press 400 to 450 pounds, you’re going to have trouble blocking defensive linemen in the NFL.  National Football League defenders are big, strong and nasty, so you had better have some power behind you when you try to deal with them.

Ertz needs to get in that weight room and get much more powerful in his lower body and much stronger in his upper body.  His slender frame is fine when he’s running pass routes, but he needs to add 10 to 15 more pounds of muscle to consistently block the defensive linemen and linebackers in the National Football League.  He’s listed at 6’5″ 250 pounds, well he needs to increase to 260 or 265 pounds of muscle.  When he builds that power in his body, he will walk to the line of a scrimmage with the confidence he can maul the guys he’s blocking.

The youngster has already proven he can do the job as a pass receiver and there are teams in the league would have already put him on the field because having another legitimate playmaking threat like him on the field every play is worth a great deal because it puts increased pressure on the defense.  Unfortunately for him, here in Philadelphia Chip Kelly has shown him that he’s not willing to sacrifice anything in his running game to have a playmaking tight end on the field, so Ertz had better be living in that weight room.

He might as well workout with the offensive linemen in the weight room because he’s asked to block the same guys, they’re blocking.  As a tight end, he blocks down on defensive linemen all the time and he is assigned to drive block them, hook block them and pass block them.  Most of these are 300 plus pounds and very powerful.

If he could take that starting job right now with Bradford taking over, he could gain the new quarterback’s confidence to the point where the new signal caller looks him up every time he drops into the pocket and uses him as a safety valve if he gets in trouble.  A gun shy quarterback would like nothing better than to have an outstanding tight end to get the ball to, if and when he gets in trouble.  Ertz already has Mark Sanchez in his corner, so he’ll be a top option any time they’re on the field together.

It all comes down to beating out Celek and getting on the field.  If he becomes the starter, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him catching 80 or 90 passes in a season and that’s going to mean a better Eagles team, Pro Bowl appearances for the young tight end and a big new contract.  Get in that weight room young man.

20 thoughts on “Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz Should Be Living In The Weight Room

  1. We took Ertz with a very early round selection in 2013, after signing James Casey in the off-season and already having Brent Celek on the roster.

    Some questioned the selection as there were obvious holes in the defensive secondary and available players (Cyprien-safety with the Jaguars) that could have fixed a need; instead of providing depth at a position where there were already proven starters.

    I expected Ertz to be a major red zone target for Eagle QB’s, winning jump ball battles with his size/athleticism, while also taking some snaps out wide in WR like sets. Being a Pac-12 guy, and with his measurables, I felt Chip would have used him better to this point, but Celek continues to eat into the snaps because he can block.

    There is obviously something to be said about his below average blocking, and Ertz is aware of this, training with MMA camps and picking the brain of future hall of famer Tony Gonzalez. Celek was not known for being a great blocker in his early years as an Eagle, but worked hard to better his craft and could certainly mentor Ertz.

    The “breakout” potential continues to be the description we hear about most with Ertz.

    I hope in year three he breaks free of what has restricted him from becoming a top 5-8 TE in the NFL.

    1. I see Ertz as a Coby Fleener Type which is a big Target with some SPeed but not an athletic freak like some of todays TE’s ..
      Erta will unlikely ever unset Celek as the True #1 Te since he is not very good at Blocking and will play 75-85% of his Snaps split out wide or coming from the backfield and not lined up as a “In-Line TE” like Celek is..
      The TE Position has really morphed into 2 Positions and 2 Types of Players
      a Traditional Inside TE (Celek,Witten, Heath Miller, etc,etc) and a more athletic Outside TE (Graham,Gronkowski,Martellus Bennett,Greg Olson,Coby Fleener, etc,etc)
      It’s the evolution of the Position and the Game …
      Most Teams today use a Combo of 2-3-4 TE’s to cover both the inside and outside Formations

      I never envision Ertz putting up huge #’s for he’s only going to be on the Field for approx 60-65% of the Snaps a game which equates to approx 40-45 Snaps a Game

      1. Celek remains the Starter for he’s an In-Line TE and will catch 35 Passes and 3-4 TD’s
        Ertz to remain as the outside TE and on the field for about 40-45 Snaps a Game and catch’s about 50 Passes and should end up with 6-7-8 TD’s

        The TE that I am excited to see develop is the youngster Eric Tomlinson out of UTEP and goes 6-6 & 263lbs … If he gets off to a fast start, he may be able to beat out 3rd TE Trey Burton, if not, he may spend 2015 om the Practice Squad with a real good chance for 2016 ..
        Keep an eye on this kid during the Summer Camp..

    2. I was one that was screaming for Jonathan Cyprien. I don’t dislike Ertz as a player, I just don’t like him as much as others who post on here, and want to see him supplant Celek – not because Celek is a bad TE – but they’re overly zealous in their praise for Ertz, who realistically, has a ways to go in his blocking before he’ll ever replace Celek…..

      Which I have repeatedly pointed out over the last 2 years, to the objection of most because they so badly want to justify his being drafted by the Eagles. That’s why DCar calls him a luxury pick, and not a need pick. – we could have had Cyprien, and Ertz possibly if we were aggressive, and focused enough I the drafting process.

  2. It is no reason why cooper,celek,demeco should be on this team all have done all they can do just isn’t thst good anymore and should’ve been replaced this offseason

  3. Hey cigar your right he does disagree with me and my opinion cause last yr I said Bradley fletcher and cary Williams should’ve been benched or cut mid season so I guess chip will have to learn the hard way again.

  4. Hey cigar he doesn’t have to troll gcobb every reporter asked him the same the question why do you keep sending these bums out there… I’m sorry I’m not like the masses I don’t drink the kool-aid every thing that chip does isn’t right or smart like I said celek and cooper are glorified blockers who sho either be cut or benched & demeco should in no way start over kendricks or kiko his skill level is just not up part with theirs if they are healthy

    1. he likes glorified blockers…. funny the offense with foles, sanchez at the helm set records utilizing those glorified blockers. so you even grasp what the offense does? its a simple offense that involves all 11 on every play…

  5. Hey listen the offense can put up all the yds and stats and pts against the bum teams but riley cooper and celek don’t cut against the good teams and there both overpaid for what they bring to the table….. I would keep miles Austin this yr over cooper.

    1. maybe he will…why are you so worried about other peoples salaries… its the lowest form of argument when discussing athletes….they are ALL overpaid so the F what? Billionaires paying millionaires ho the hell cares?
      oh all 20 wins have been bad wins… do you watch football? every single weeks a bad team will beat a good team.
      I suggest you watch All-22 and see what the glorified blockers contribute on a play by play basis….

  6. Sorry cigar I do watch all 22 and I also have nfl rewind so I can watch any play from any angle…. and cooper has avg speed at best he’s a very poor route runner below avg hands same thing with celeck at this point in his career.

    1. dingbat… you started this thread by saying they are glorified blockers….i said maybe, just maybe thats why chip keeps them around.
      and again why are you worried about what a billionaire pays a millionaire? its the weakest sports argument ever. who cares? they are at or below the cap.. they have the players they want

  7. Why won’t you answer a very simple question? You made it clear it’s about the money? Why do you care about another mans salary? We know the eagles are excellent with the cap so why do you have z problem with another mans salary?

  8. I don’t care what they make I’m just saying what there paying the see glorified blockers could’ve been used to get a real safety or more help on the oline hell I would’ve took Julius Thomas with both of there salaries.

  9. ‘I do t care what they make, I’m just saying what their paying ‘ …in that statement you contradicted yourself… You do care

  10. It’s about resources… Only reason to care about a players salary in a salary cap league is to compare it to what they could have signed (assuming all things are equal).

    Celek and Cooper are here to block. There really is no debating this. That said.. What makes them attractive (for chip) is that they can catch. Not great. But they can.

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