The Obstacles Facing Zach Ertz

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Zach Ertz said that he was taking the lack of playing time personally earlier in the year. He was extremely hard on himself and was allowing his frustrations to impact him on and off the field. If he had a negative play he would carry it over to the next, and admitted that his attitude wasn’t necessarily as good as it should have been.

Ertz credits his tight end coaches, Ted Williams and Justin Peelle, for helping to adjust his mindset.

“They kind of sat me down and said, ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job. Don’t be so hard on yourself.’ I have two great tight end coaches in Justin and Ted and two other great tight ends in our room in Brent [Celek] and James [Casey], so I’ve learned a lot from them.

“It was a big maturation process for myself, kind of a stubborn 23-year old to a mature 23-year old, 24-year old now.”

Ertz has been on the field for 50 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps this season. His playing time is trending in the wrong direction. He played 64 percent of the snaps over the first four games of the season compared to 42 percent over the last six. The trend began after Ertz struggled in the blocking game against San Francisco.

“I love the questions,” Kelly responded, when asked why Ertz isn’t playing more. “We have 46 guys on our team, but only a certain amount of guys can play. Brent Celek is doing a hell of a job, so it would be very injustice if I told Brent he has to sit because we want to put someone else on the field.

“Brent’s an outstanding blocker. I think he may be the best blocking tight end in the league.  I think with what we do, I think he’s a sure‑handed receiver, he had a huge game against Carolina a week ago and had over 100 yards receiving. So, I don’t think it has anything to do with Zach.  It has really to do with how well Brent Celek is playing.”

That is the reality for Ertz: Though his blocking has improved, he’s on a run-first team and is playing behind one of the better blocking tight ends in the game.

We asked Ertz: Would Jimmy Graham, who is not known as a strong blocker, see the field in this offense?

“Probably not, to be honest,” Ertz responded. “I don’t want to take anything away from Jimmy but the things I’ve seen on film is he’s more of a pass-catching tight end and in this offense we’re a run-first team and we don’t sub because we’re going at a high tempo.”

Ertz is in a better place mentally now, he says, though there’s little doubt that some frustration lingers. Asked if he has talked with Kelly about his playing time, the young tight end said he will not be going down that road.

“We’re 7-3 so I don’t really have a lot of merit,” he said. “I want to win and if we’re winning that’s all I really care about.”