Wake-Up Call: Ertz On Track

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Back in early October, Michael Vick made a bold prediction regarding rookie tight end Zach Ertz.

“There are three players that I told that they would be great players in this league: I always told Alge Crumpler that he was going to be great, I always told Shady McCoy that he was going to be a great player in this league, and I always told Roddy White. And now I’m saying Zach Ertz. And I think in time, he will be one of the best tight ends in this game.”

Ertz had all of five NFL catches at that point. Still working through a learning curve —  steepened by his inability to participate in the offseason program because of graduation rules — the Stanford product played a limited role initially. He was featured more as the year went on and ended with 36 catches for 469 yards with four touchdowns. While we still have a ways to go before determining whether Vick’s intuition is correct, it’s fair to say that there are encouraging signs.


Tight ends typically don't explode onto the scene in their first season. That was generally  true for this year's crop as well. Below is a list of the six tight ends that were selected in the first three rounds in 2013 and how they fared this season.

Name
Receptions
Yards
Yards/Catch
Touchdowns
Tyler Eifert (Cin)3944511.42
Zach Ertz (Phi)3646913.04
Gavin Escobar (Dal)913414.92
Vance McDonald (SF)811914.90
Travis Kelce (KC) *0000
Jordan Reed (Was) 4549911.13

* Kelce, Jason's brother, missed almost the entire season with a knee injury that required microfracture surgery.

As you can see, Eifert, Ertz and Reed all posted similar, quality-but-not-spectacular numbers (though it should be noted Reed played in just nine games.) Their stats may not be mind-blowing, but they are absolutely respectable when compared to the rookie campaigns of some of the game's premier tight ends. Tony Gonzalez, for example, had 33 catches for 368 yards and a pair of scores his first year in the league; Jimmy Graham caught 31 balls for 356 yards and 5 TD; and Jason Witten had 35 grabs for 347 yards and a touchdown. (Jimmy Kempski has more related stats here.) Relatively humble beginnings compared to the heights they ascended to.

Ertz showed progress. Twenty-two of his 36 catches came in the second half of the season, as did each of his four TDs.

"I think my role expanded every week," said Ertz. "I think it was a good baseline first season for me but I'm not satisfied in any way. I'm really looking forward to next year already, hitting the offseason swinging. We're going to have a great team next year. We had a heck of a ride this year but I think everybody is still so hungry that we want the first Super Bowl to Philly."

WHAT YOU MISSED

We begin our position-by-position offseason look at the Eagles with some thoughts on the quarterback spot.

The Eagles announce three coaching moves. 

Cap expert and former agent Joel Corry discusses potential cap casualties and the receiver situation.

Nick Foles takes home Pro Bowl MVP honors.

Sheil looks back at the decision to draft Lane Johnson.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Jeff McLane caught up with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is apparently considering retiring if the Broncos win the Super Bowl.

In Philadelphia, Eagles fans are joking, "Didn't he retire two years ago?"

But the former Eagles cornerback wasn't kidding about calling it quits even though he's coming off arguably the best season of his career, is still only 27 years old and will likely have multiple suitors when he hits free agency in March.

"Coming out of college I gave myself a five-year goal," Rodgers-Cromartie said Monday. "If I could just make it to five years, I'd be alright coming from a small school. And fortunately, I've been playing six. It's been a long journey. You know, just weighing my options."

Tommy Lawlor offers his thoughts on free-agent receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. 

Both Maclin and Cooper could get surprising offers from other teams. They are young, talented players with a good combination of size and speed. Maclin is the better playmaker. Cooper is more physical and the better blocker. Even with their issues, teams could see the value in signing them.

I tend to think both guys will stick around in 2014.

COMING UP

We'll continue our offseason outlook series.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Jordan Reed (Was)?

    • Harty

      Reed was too embarrassed to admit he played for the Redskins……..

      • G_WallyHunter

        So he said he played for Florida instead?
        He’s going to have to specify which one, unless he changed sports? Plays for the panthers? Possibly..

    • Tim McManus

      Fixed, thank you, sir.

  • EaglefaninAZ

    Glad we have Ertz in the fold. Really going to enjoy watching him develop. I think that was a great pick.

    • GEAGLE

      Spectacular pick it will prove to be…but the kid really needs to get his public speaking together. I get a kick out of hearing I him talk, he stutters, his voice cracks, he is SOOO shy it’s funny. Good Kid, we can count on him to work to be great. Think having Casey and Celek is great for him

  • GEAGLE

    ERTZ 1000yards 8TDs next year…take it to the bank

    • NickS1

      This is certainly possible. I think the floor is probably 700, but, not going to argue over that haha.

      • GEAGLE

        800yards is 50yards per game…I think he reaches that easily

        • NickS1

          If he plays all 16, more than likely. I was factoring in the likelihood of missing a game or two. It happens, and I don’t think we’ll be as fortunate with the injuries this year like last year. Certainly don’t think it’s going to be a repeat of 2012, but I think it’s unlikely we can repeat the health of last season.

          • GEAGLE

            Depends on how much of this years health was Luck and how much of it was superior training

          • NickS1

            Obviously. But let’s not act like luck wasn’t a factor. No major injuries DURING the season where seasons were declared over immediately that I can think of. While we absolutely have superior training, I think it’s foolish to think we repeat the good fortunes we had with the injury bug.

          • GEAGLE

            We,had plenty of injuries throughout the year, just so happens that our year shattering injuries happened in Camp…was that because our turf sucks? Was it because it was too soon for our super training to kick in? Was it dumb luck?

            We had our share of concussions this year. Chung’s shoulder was jacked up and I suspect he just played thru it. we lost Wolff for over a month. JP fought minor injuries all year….I mean we tore two ACLs. That’s probably the average per each team on a yearly basis

          • NickS1

            Concussions are part of the game, nothing sports science will take care totally. Kendricks was out for a game. I said during the season for a reason. And the ACL injuries were guys who have already had 1 or more ACL or other knee injuries, hell, Benn has an entire team’s worth of knee injuries. Point is, there’s a lot of luck involved in avoiding major season ending injuries in football.

          • cliff henny

            maybe seperate offense from defense. on O, spacing had to play major roll. not to many pile-up, nothing an OL can do about rolled-up from behind. skilled guys never seemed to take clean shots. defense…DL, age? young guys are more durable. LB and secondary, not sure, have older guys and guys with previous issues. all i know is i hope it continues.

          • NickS1

            Hope so, too. Not holding my breath, though. Seems like we’ve been on both extremes with the injury bug, devastated in 2012 and incredibly fortunate in 2013. I just happen to be of the opinion that it falls somewhere in the middle next year. Not that I’m hoping for it.

          • cliff henny

            what also helps is having a deep team. if a guy goes down there’s someone capable behind. sometimes injuries seem to snowball. guy goes down, have to move 2 guys to new positions to cover 3rd, they arent as sure in new roll, they get hurt. underqualified backups seem to get hurt easily, then scrapping bottom of barrell. kendricks got hurt, goode came in and played well with lesser responsibilities.

          • GEAGLE

            Next years health is probably one of the things I’m most curious about…if we have similar “luck” next year, then I don’t know how much of it is Luck

          • NickS1

            I won’t raise the point then. Only have one season of sports science, and while I certainly think it helps a lot, there’s always the “sh!t happens” like Ed Reed falling into Kelce’s knee.

          • GEAGLE

            I don’t disagree with you at all right now…I can’t just assume that it’s always going to be like this year, but if we have two years of good luck, then something has to give and I would be very excited

    • anon

      I don’t think we throw the ball that much. I actually think Ertz could have fewer yards and more TDs depending on what happens at WR. Foles doesn’t throw 400+ yds a game.

      • CJ

        yet.

    • George

      I’m actuallt more inclined to think 800 yds 10 tds, think he gets underneath stuff, djax coop get over top and he DOMINATES IN redzone

      • GEAGLE

        if we don’t bring Coop back, it very well could be 10TDs…but Coop is gonna GET SOME in the redzone and I think shady will have more RZ Tds next year

        • Richard Colton

          Mike Evans and Colt Lyeria may steal some touches from Ertz – lets call it 700 yards and 6 TDs

          • Dominik

            Since you talked about Colt Lyeria. Is there any educated guess what Kelly will do with him? If he thinks he can get his head straight, it should be a no-brainer late round pick/UDFA. If he doesn’t think he will be able to coach him, we’re probably the last team who takes a shot at him. Are there rumors to which side Kelly tends?

          • Richard Colton

            here’s my uneducated guess: I think Colt gets overdrafted. Some team falls in love with the skill set, ignores the red flags, and takes him in the 4th or 5th.

      • GW.Fisher

        Agreed. Foles spreads the wealth, and Shady & Jackson are going to get theirs, so no 1000 for Ertz. This year, anyway.

  • cliff henny

    if that tri-mester graduation date rule isnt the biggest joke, i dont know what is. cant wait till the NCAA cuts out the charade.

    • GEAGLE

      What the hell are they waiting for to change it? What a joke

      • cliff henny

        NCAA, they make rules for everyone. i feel bad for a 7th rdr that gets drafted, think how that effects his ability to make team. chances are he doesnt, so he should finish with degree. but still, i wouldnt want some garbage rule interferring with my dreams. Ertz, had 3m job waiting, i’d say that’s better than a diploma.

        • GEAGLE

          Right…these universities make so much money off these kids, when they are done playing for you leave them the F alone…

        • Explorer51

          I think this hurt Jordan Poyer’s chances with the Eagles; he may not have made it in any event but this illogical rule certainly didn’t help.

      • Andy124

        Tangent: I much, much, much prefered trimesters to semesters.

        • Richard Colton

          Drexel?

          • GEAGLE

            Drexel is quarterly…

          • Andy124

            Auburn was on trimesters when I started there. I believe they’ve since switched.

    • theycallmerob

      I hope the Buchannon lawsuit rips them to shreds. Emmert can join Bettman in commish/executive inner cirlce of hell

      • cliff henny

        NCAA is going to be gone or vastely different in a short time. the monster top 65 schools are getting very tired of answering to the bottom 250 D1 schools. once the reshuffling to 4 or 5 major conferences is complete, either a 3rd D1 football/basketball subset is created, with those 65 becoming own, with new bi-laws, added to whatever bcs-teams on outside looking- and fbs become, or break away. then they can create rules for revenue drivers, football and basketball, and non-rev, basically other 80 sports. it’s insane that penn state football has same rule as havard fencing.

        • GEAGLE

          Someone cool this man off,..he is on fire this morning

        • theycallmerob
          • Maggie

            Regardless of the NCAA and their archaic iron grip, the people involved in this lawsuit need to be very careful in any dealings with the Steelworkers union. The NCAA are rank amateurs compared to that bunch of thieves and liars.

        • Maggie

          Could be very difficult. A huge organization like the NCAA has the dinosaurs at the top who don’t WANT to change the way they have always done things. The lower tiers of management get tired of beating their heads against a wall, so they go elsewhere. So nothing changes, or at least change comes at glacier speed. It’s similar to trying to change the culture in the Armed Forces. Or any branch of Civil Service.

  • GEAGLE

    Really starting to think Anthony Barr falls all the way to 22
    ..
    Also starting to think that Louis Nix falls into round two

    Thinking the Patriots might want to move up to 22 to try and get one of the TEs Jace or Ebron
    ..
    How do people view FSU Jernigan? I don’t know what to think. I see him mocked in the 11-15 range, but I feel like he could fall out of round 1 altogether..

    The oKlahoma corner who tore up his knee at the senior bowl will be draft n stashed by either the Niners or Seahawks…the rich get richer
    .
    As a day 3 pick, keep an eye on Colorados Chidera Uzzo-Diribe…speed OLB edge rusher

    • Ramsay

      What hints you that Barr will drop that far? I would love that

      • GEAGLE

        Very very raw???his tape doesn’t match the hype everyone puts on him. He currently has NO MOVES. Everything he accomplished, he did off his explosive first step. This isn’t a kid you draft in the top 10 and will be ready to go in September. he needs serious development..The hope is he gets with a good OLB coach like McGovern and teaches him moves so he doesn’t have to always just rely on that athleticism.. He compares a lot to Dion Jordan, so maybe Chip and Azz see a supreme athlete they would like to grow…
        ..
        Basically he will need to spend his rookie season as a Nickle pass rusher, which is fine, I just think ESPN is over mocking him…like some people mock him ahead of Mack and that’s absurd. Mack is ready to come in and be a 3down OLB from day one….There are going to be a lot of talented less risky, more game ready edge rushers in round 1, that I’m starting to think teams in the top 20 have better options then taking a risky prospect who needs serious development if he is going to pan out.. It’s rare that you will ever find more raw talent at OLB then this kid, but he needs a lot of development…everything he accomplished so far has been off raw ability

        • Joe L

          I agree on Barr being raw, and it’s mainly because he’s only been playing defense for two years now. I think he’s going to take a year maybe two, but once he fully develops he’s going to be incredible.

          • cliff henny

            raw is great, if coaching staff is in place to cultivate talent. seems like kelly sees draft as high school recruiting +4 yrs. not every one gets same coaching in college. the difference in wolff’s tape to play was pretty remarkable, think he’s the guy that has me most onboard with taking raw talent.

          • anon

            5th round not 1st round

          • cliff henny

            raw is raw. either you can coach them up or you cant. think lane or wolff would of had same improvement under reid, especially post-JJ days? i sure dont. lot of raw vs seasoned has to do with where these guys goes, regardless of round.

          • anon

            Coaching undoubtedly better here. Rather waste a 5th round on a raw guy than my first round pick.

          • cliff henny

            if ceiling is equal, give me further along guy, but that’s rarely the case. trust kelly’s staff to take a raw product and not squander it. do a shot draft weekend every time kiper says ‘raw’ or ‘needs better coaching, have 9-1-1 dialed so you only have to push send when alcohol poisoning kicks in after 45 mins’. feel like we have big advantage in developing players, wolff being the best example. you see his nc state vid? could see athletic ability and flashes, but lordy, he was going wrong direction the whole time. was little funny.

          • GEAGLE

            Well said…I think our coaches see it the same way

          • NickS1

            I’d say you hit the nail on the head with this.

          • GEAGLE

            So I guess you don’t like the Lane pick

          • anon

            We’ve talked about the lane pick before. I think it was he right move in the circumstance (JP having 2 achilles and being old, much of the line coming off injury) and i think we got the best OT of that group. But do i think there could have been bigger difference makers taken with the No. 4 pick? Yes.

          • GEAGLE

            Think Lane has one of the higher ceiling in the entire draft class, if not the highest.Could we have had more of a difference maker last year? Sure. But FRont office people and coaches aren’t as shorsited….really hard to find a player with a higher ceiling at his position then Lane…like I don’t think you really understand what it means to set combine records in every OT category that there is…in the history of the combine, Lane is the best athlete ever seen at OT…I highly doubt we will come away from this draft with a player with a higher ceiling than Lane…the kid has special potential..

            Lane probably has more ceiling at his position,mthen Clowney does at his position…doubt Clowney sets every DE record at this years combine
            ..
            By your reasoning we should have taken Fluker instead of Lane which would be a joke

          • anon

            I understand. He’s an OT though. It’s a very important position, but less so on a team where we run 50% of the time. We still managed to give up 46 sacks (doesn’t include throw aways and intentional groundings, etc.) so there’s weakness on other parts of the line as well. But given the situation i think it was a good pick.

          • GEAGLE

            Fair

          • theycallmerob

            game is won in the trenches. I’m glad Kelly came in and solidified that right away. I hope they get another young OL or 2 this year.

          • anon

            OL or DL?

          • theycallmerob

            both, but DL is currently our strongest position group (and youngest). But for Kelly’s scheme to work, that OL must be dominant. I have no qualms investing there.

          • GEAGLE

            Starting to think we won’t address Oline this year unless it’s late round fliers! cut Herremans at the end of next season and target Hroniss Grasu in the draft, who today projects as the top guard prospect in next years draft and he is doing it while playing in Oregons system..Grasu can start day one as a rookie because Lane will be entering his third season….if you want the best guard in the draft, it’s not hard to get..people don’t value guards..

            We like Tobin
            Barbre we can count on
            Vandervelde has competition now with the new crazy center
            If we like the progree of Kelly and Bamiro! we could take it easy on OL this offseason..but I’m never opposed to more help in the trenches. We are pretty set at those spots, so if we draft one, prob means our coaches see a lot in the kid

          • Explorer51

            Agree. If Oline wasn’t tightened up, Shady doesn’t break records and Nick Foles may not have succeeded in his chance to start. Drafting Lane allowed them to move Herremans who, fortunately and ultimately, recovered from 2012 injury…as did JP and Kelce of course. Oline emphasis also was evident in the hiring of Jeff Stoutland, arguably one of the best college Oline coaches in recent memory. Sleepers here might be UDFA Tobin next season and even Bamiro the year after that. Still would be nice to pick up some solid depth, can’t imagine we’ll get through another season w/o games missed injuries.

        • Adam

          Dion Jordan and Lane Johnson were two guys that were considered raw coming into the draft, but look at where they went.

          • GEAGLE

            Different draft class…Dion wouldn’t be the first defender drafted if Mack and Clowny were in the same draft. Lastyear it was pretty much Ziggy,Dion and then slim pickings at the top of the draft…Ziggy and Dion could be drafted early do to potential because there was no sure shot clowny!Mack type to push them back

        • Ramsay

          Sbnation said the same thing as what you said

          • GEAGLE

            This will become more of the popular oppinion as the process unfolds. Who said it on SBnation? Was it Dan Kadar? He is the only person over there who’s oppinion I really respect…of course once he goes crazy at the combine, he could rise again….

          • Ramsay

            Didnt look to see who wrote it. It was a mock draft on yahoo. Haf Bortles going numero uno

          • GEAGLE

            If the texans keep the pick it wouldn’t shock me. Don’t see Obrien wanting Teddy or Manziel…probably would be between one of the OTs,Clowney,BOrtles,and Carr if the texans keep the pick

        • Mitchell

          I totally agree with Khalil Mack going before Barr. He is the better player as of right now. I recently watched the tape on Barr and came away unimpressed but I guess it’s like you say, he needs time to develop.

      • GEAGLE

        Don’t think it’s a case of him falling, more of a case of being over mocked to begin with(happens every year) think Sharif Floyd

    • RIP illa

      In response to Timm-aay: I think the I don’t know what to think statement is a good one. He’d be a DE for us, but I don’t like his height at 6’2 for that position. I don’t ever see him manning the NT spot. I guess he could rotate there, but I don’t like that idea at all.

      At times he looks like a absolute beast, then at times he looks so F’n sloppy and sluggish!!! His get off isn’t great, so how would he translate in passing situations. Sometimes he’s strong as an ox and sometimes he gets handled. He’s a bit under 300 which means he’d need to add some weight, and that’s where my lasting impression of him comes in. The championship game where he was completely gassed!!! I hate seeing that from a player. And yes I know players aren’t machines, but you gotta be prett damn close to a machine to play on this team!!! So if he adds weight, whether it be good weight or not, would that only make him more sluggish, hamper his get off more so, and make him less conditioned? Or would he focus on his conditioning and have it up to par w/ what is required from guys in this team, and in doing so would his weight drop further? I need a knee and wrist measurement on him ASAP!!! Lol.

      Height, slow off the snap, and inconsistent performance make me not like him. But being able to move down the line, be strong as an ox, and sometimes violent hands make me like him. So I’m pretty much seeing a run stuffing DE w/ limited pass rush…like Thornton. Is that a guy we want in our rotation? Or do we want our backups to be more well rounded? Cuz I’m seeing him as a backup only for now.

  • NickS1

    Think the future is pretty bright for Ertz. Wasn’t happy with the pick (I wanted to trade up a few spots to nab Cyprien), but, it’s panning out. The grad rules are ridiculous, though. I hate the NCAA.

  • theycallmerob

    (Unrelated)
    DAL hired Scott Linehan from DET to be “pass-game coordinator and call their plays . So now a lame duck head coach and OC. I love Jerrah

    • NickS1

      Keep spending Jerry. Still be 8-8.

      • theycallmerob

        can you imagine having Kelly and Shurmur Coaches In Title Only while Musgrave makes the calls? I just can’t get enough.

        • NickS1

          Hahaha… speaking of that dynamic – love that we have a built in “OC” in Musgrave should Shurmur depart. I say “OC” because we both know that Chip is the OC.

    • anon

      gets crazier and crazier over there.

    • cliff henny

      was reading that yesterday. they are tossing around idea linehan calls passes, callahan runs. the funniest line i heard from btb was:
      linehan radios a pass play down to JG, callahan sends a run play. JG decides which, tells wade wilson who then radios into Romo who instructs rest of offense in huddle. they get to the LOS and Romo audibles to whatever he wants anyways, then burn a timeout as playclock runs out.

      • Mr. Magee

        Obviously tongue in cheek humor, but not far from the truth. Watching them struggle to get plays off in time harkens back to the days of Andy and Donovan… So frustrating to watch.

    • Maggie

      One has to wonder if Jerry’s mental capabilities have completely deserted him. Stupidity descending into madness. Not only emasculating his head coach but refusing to let go of coaching staff who DO NOT WANT to be there? Does he actually believe that they will give their all for the team? His ego has become everything.

    • Mikeq

      Reminds me of PSU the last decade or so of Paterno’s tenure. He had his son as QBs coach and passing game coordinator, and Galen Hall as OC and run game coordinator. The offense was embarrassingly bad, and Jay Paterno ruined about 10 QBs in the process.

  • GW.Fisher

    I like that he’s aware of the “first SB to Philly”.

  • Mrkraxx

    Ertzs lasting impression for me was way way way too many simple drops. Without those, he is a top tier te. That being said, anyone who never drops the ball will be top tier… So let’s see what happens yr 2 on Ertz

  • daggolden

    Wasted pick should of went defense in the 2nd round.

  • southy

    Part of the reason they don’t explode on the scene is blocking. Can’t get on the field if you can’t run block and/or are a liability in pass pro. Esco was atrocious at it coming out of college. Ertz is improving but that’s the clear reason he’s still behind Celek on the depth chart.

    Of course, as a hybrid lineman/WR, that’s HALF YOUR JOB. I hate it when we talk about TEs and say “so and so was one of the top TEs this year” *cue receiving stats*.