Wake Up Call: Ertz Wants To Lead
On a day when the temperature was over 90 degrees, many Eagles quickly made their way to the air-conditioned locker room after practice. Some hung around to talk to the media. And then there was Zach Ertz, running routes, weaving between tackling dummies as Jordan Matthews threw him passes.
Ertz’s goal in 2015 is simple: He wants to be a leader.
“I just want to be a leader of the team, honestly,” Ertz said. “Obviously my role has grown each and every year and I think it will continue to do that, but at the end of the day, all I care about is [getting] 16 wins next year, that’s our focus.”
Ertz also pointed out that this is the first full offseason he will have since being drafted by the Eagles in the second round two years ago, but he says he relishes the opportunity to be out on the field each day.
“I feel good, I don’t ever want to be off the field, and I don’t want to off the field during practice, so I don’t really care about how many reps I take,” said Ertz.
Besides the OTAs and his after-practice workouts, Ertz has gotten some help from a former NFL tight end who experienced some success in the league: Tony Gonzalez.
“I kind of just cold texted him one day, asking if he would be willing to meet with me, sit down and have lunch with me and luckily for me he was willing to do that,” Ertz said. “I mean if he said no, he said no, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so that’s how I looked at it.”
Ertz expanded on their interaction in a post on his new blog:
We talked about a lot of things. When it came to football, we talked about the steps I needed to take to go from being good to great. We talked about little things — the nuances of how to run a certain route, what’s advantageous against certain coverages, that sort of thing. He also talked about the importance of having a routine. He had a routine of greatness that he would do every day. He felt it gave him the edge over the competition in the long run.
He also really focused on the mental side of the game. We put so much into our bodies physically and emotionally, he explained, that we kind of ignore training the brain, and learning new ways to train the brain. That’s kind of what we talked about. He reads a lot of books about mental training and successful CEOs to understand what makes them successful. That’s some of the knowledge that he imparted on me.
Ertz hasn’t shied away from voicing his support for Chip Kelly’s system and seems giddy when talking about being able to work out all offseason. That work ethic hasn’t gone unnoticed as Mark Sanchez praised his work ethic, comparing him to a pair of premier tight ends.
“Oh absolutely, he has the prerequisites, he has the size, he has the speed, he has the hands and now, once you get that, its like ‘okay, now what are you going to do?’ Because I guarantee the [Rob] Gronkowski‘s and Jimmy Graham, those guys work and Ertz, he works his butt off,” Sanchez said. “I mean, he’s catching tennis balls, he’s catching footballs, he’s out there doing something with those bags [right now].
“He’s all over the place and he’s constantly trying to get better, constantly grabbing you to watch film, so when you get a guy like that, the sky is the limit.”
Ertz has seen inconsistent snaps in his first years with the team because of his blocking, but he believes his hard work will pay off when the season rolls around.
“I’ve been lucky enough to watch Brent Celek block over the past two years,” Ertz wrote on his blog. “He’s got great technique, and he’s been successful at it for a long time. I’ve learned a lot from him, and wanted to keep building on that foundation. I reached out Hudson Houck, a former offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Hudson is basically the guru of blocking, so I headed down to San Diego a couple months back to train with him.”
It will be interesting to see if the student surpasses the master and Ertz begins to cut into Celek’s snaps.
WHAT YOU MISSED
How will the Eagles divide the carries in their crowded backfield?
“[T]hey asked for a release, so we released him.” Kelly addresses the release of Evan Mathis.
Sheil offers his observations on the o-line in his running diary.
Jason Kelce and Connor Barwin talk about the Mathis situation.
Make sure you order your copy of the 2015 Eagles Almanac!
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice looks at the Eagles roster turnover compared to other teams in the league:
It took Chip Kelly a little longer to completely overhaul the Eagles’ roster, and when he did, he did so with authority. However, the low number of players left from the 2012 roster isn’t at all that out of the ordinary for a team with a coaching change.
The biggest difference with the Eagles, obviously, and this is an educated guess here, is that none of the other teams lost five players who have appeared in the Pro Bowl in one offseason.
Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly reports from Mathis’s side from the story:
“Yes, I would have played under the contract and been fine — like last year,” said Mathis, who has asked for a restructured contract since the 2014 offseason. “I can block stuff out and not let it be a distraction. I missed voluntary stuff, but I was still working hard. It doesn’t mean I was going to be a bad apple. I would never do that.”
Mathis, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the offseason, said his flight to Philadelphia for mandatory minicamp, which began Tuesday, was booked in May. He sent a screenshot of his itinerary to CSNPhilly.com showing a confirmed one-way flight on Southwest Airlines, Flight No. 677, from Phoenix to Philadelphia on June 14.
Minicamp rolls on at the NovaCare.