Zach Ertz: ‘I Don’t Need A Best Friend As A Coach’

Zach Ertz. (Jeff Fusco)

Zach Ertz. (Jeff Fusco)

After several players voiced their criticisms of Chip Kelly yesterday, it became clear today that not everyone in the locker room feels the same way. Malcolm Jenkins responded to some of Lane Johnson’s comments, and Zach Ertz appeared to defend his former head coach when asked about whether Kelly was approachable.

“I’ve been around unapproachable coaches before. I don’t need a best friend as a coach,” Ertz said. “I need someone that’s going to push me to be the best I can be, and that’s all I can ask for.”

When speaking to the media yesterday about firing Kelly, Jeffrey Lurie said he would consult players about what they want in their next head coach. Ertz expressed a sentiment similar to his response about Kelly.

“I want a coach that’s going to maximize my potential,” he said. “That’s all you can ask of a coach. I don’t really care how that happens. I want to be the best player I can possibly be and I think a coach helps you along that journey.”

Although the Eagles have posted a disappointing 6-9 record this season and Kelly never won a playoff game, the tight end said he has many positive takeaways from his time with Kelly. Ertz said he hopes the Eagles keep the sports science initiatives under their next head coach.

“Yeah, I think everyone’s learned a lot from the off-the-field portion of Chip’s program,” he said. “Things I’m going to take with me for the rest of my career, just staying on top of your body, staying on your sleep. Things that make sense. Your body is your job, essentially, at this level and I think the better you can take care of your body, the better you’re going to be.”


Once Kelly was given more power over personnel, the Eagles’ fortunes really started to decline. He failed to bring back Jeremy Maclin, he traded LeSean McCoy and he didn’t make any upgrades on the offensive line after two starters departed.

According to Jason Kelce, it’s a tough to juggle the responsibilities of being a head coach with general manager-type duties.

“I think some guys can do that, and some guys can’t,” Kelce said. “I’m not saying Chip Kelly can’t do that. I think he’s probably learned a lot from this year and I think he probably would’ve changed some things even if he was retained here. It’s difficult.

“If you look at the structure of a lot of successful businesses, there’s guys that are great at being the head guy, micromanaging and having his hand in everything. And you have organizations that really operate well when you have a guy who lets his employees work and stays in what his realm is.”

In the last three seasons, the Eagles’ offense has scored less points each year. According to Football Outsiders, Philadelphia ranked 8th in the NFL in points per drive in 2013, 13th in 2014 and 25th in 2015.

Kelce noted that both of his head coaches have been fired after “overhauls” in free agency, saying it sometimes works. However, he added that he’s seen that philosophy backfire, before saying he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“There’s a lot of different factors going into [our decline],” Kelce said. “Obviously, the personnel is different. You have a quarterback who is more of a drop-back passer and not much of a runner. All of that stuff plays into it. You have a bunch of new guys all of a sudden trying to come together and play offense where you have a new running back, a new quarterback, two new guards, a new wide receiver, a lot of new pieces. And it never really came together.

“There’s a lot of reasons for that. You understand some of them, and — to be quite frank — I just don’t know that I want to air them out to the media, at least quite yet.”

One thing that hurt the Eagles’ offense was penalties, particularly on the offensive line. Lane Johnson is tied for second among NFL offensive linemen in penalties, and some have suggested that Kelly’s tempo — both in practice and in games — may be a contributing factor.

“Tempo has the potential to do that, but I think it also has the potential to put you in very advantageous situations,” Kelce said. “[It] has the potential to make the defense very vanilla or simple, which is what we’ve seen a lot of and part of the reason why I think we’ve had a lot success in the past with this offense. So I don’t think that the tempo was the major issue.”