Eagles Wake-Up Call: Ertz Putting In the Work
Zach Ertz has spent the 2015 offseason tracking down extra edge.
He sought the counsel of tight end great Tony Gonzalez. Studied under former offensive line coach Hudson Houck to improve his blocking. For strength and conditioning, he joined Darren Sproles out in San Diego to work with renowned trainer Todd Durkin.
LaDainian Tomlinson was Durkin’s first NFL client, and the tree quickly grew branches from there. Tomlinson brought in Sproles and other Chargers teammates like Drew Brees, who has now been with Durkin for 12 years. The client list also features Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer and Reggie Bush, among others. Scroll down to the bottom left and you’ll find current Eagles tight end coach Justin Peele, who played 10 seasons in the league. Seeing the benefits of training with Durkin, Peele recommended that Ertz make the trip out west.
“The big thing that we want to do is number one, get Zach in the best shape of his life and then make sure he has the mental frame approach because he has been working with some of these elite guys,” said Durkin a couple weeks back. “Zach is one of these guys that has the ‘it’ factor. He has that mental ability and desire to be great, and he’s doing everything he needs to do to put himself into the upper-echelon of tight ends in the league.
“It’s 5:20 (p.m.) here and Zach just left about an hour ago; he’s been here since eight o’clock this morning. I stretched him out for a half hour, we spent additional time doing strength and body work. He does the things above and beyond most other people. He has that desire and commitment level to do all the little things necessary to separate himself to be an elite tight end in the league.”
Ertz posted quality numbers last season (58 catches, 702 yards, 3 TDs) but did not make the giant statistical leap that many were predicting. That has a lot to do with playing time, as Ertz was on the sideline for 50 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. He’s put in the extra effort to try and get those numbers up, which has not gone unnoticed by his head coach.
“He’s got an unbelievable work ethic, has really had no offseason in terms of what he did this past ‑‑ from when our season ended against the Giants to when we started the offseason program in terms of what he did to work on his craft and make himself better not only as a receiver but as a blocker,” said Chip Kelly. “A lot of guys do things and try to get with a coach to prepare them for the Combine but then they forget about that. Zach is not that type. He was traveling all over the country trying to make himself a better blocker, a better receiver, doing all the little teeny things that’s going to make him kind of take that next step, and that’s what we’re excited to see where he goes with that.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I thought Philadelphia was the best team in the division. I have my questions now about that.” NFC East Roundup.
Eagles Weekend Reading: On Kelly, the RBs and more.
Tucker with a nice feature on local product Rasheed Bailey, who is trying to make the most of his opportunity.
A friendly reminder to order your Eagles Almanac if you haven’t already.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
USA Today is high on Nelson Agholor from a fantasy perspective.
Look, Matthews very well may have a strong year — even live up to some of the hype — but rookie Nelson Agholor is the Philly pass catcher to own in fantasy football leagues because of his expected high return on investment.
An unknown in most casual fantasy circles, the Southern California product is capable of replacing Maclin in many ways. A heady, versatile route runner who has excellent hands, Agholor, 6-foot, 198 pounds, could be the most dynamic rookie in fantasy this year.
Randall Evans reminds Jimmy Kempski of Bills cornerback Corey Graham.
• Ball skills: Over the last two seasons, Evans broke up 22 passes, which was fourth among all CBs that were selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2014, Graham was tied for third in the NFL with 11 pass breakups (per PFF).
• Physical run defenders: Evans made a boatload of tackles at Kansas State: 64 in 2014 (3rd on his team), 59 in 2013 (6th), and 77 in 2012 (3rd). That would be 200 tackles over three seasons. In 2014 with Buffalo, Graham finished second in the NFL among cornerbacks with 84 tackles. He has had 218 tackles over the last three seasons.
We’ll take a look at what the national media are saying about the Eagles.