How will Zach Ertz gel with the Eagles’ new influx of weapons?

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Tight end Zach Ertz
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Tight end Zach Ertz /

Will 2017 bear witness to Zach Ertz finally taking a leadership role in the Eagles offense?

To say that Philadelphia Eagles fans have been waiting for Zach Ertz to play at a Pro Bowl level and do so consistently would be an understatement.

Critiquing the fifth-year tight end won’t create any new arguments. We’re aware of the fact that he rarely gets any yards after catch. It’s been noted that he doesn’t block well. On more than one occassion, we’ve mentioned the fact that he plays well in games that don’t matter. Still, his biggest supporters will be the first to point out how his reception and yards totals have improved in each of his first few years in the NFL.

Regardless of how Eagles fans feel about Ertz, he’s a quality tight end. He isn’t elite, but he isn’t terrible either. He’s decent. The Eagles have added a bevy of skill layers, including Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Mack Hollins, and Shelton Gibson. Will this help Ertz in becoming a factor?

The argument for his success

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles /

Philadelphia Eagles

Opposing defenses will now have to account for Jeffery and Smith. Then there’s the other receivers who were already there, Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. Their presence in the offense could result in wide open opportunities for Ertz.

With so many options at wide receiver, it could become easy to forget about the tight end. That’s what makes Ertz’s presence so valuable. He’s good enough to take advantage of the blown coverages, and that should put him into position to make plays in the passing game.

Something else to think about

With more options at the disposal of second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, Ertz could get lost in the shuffle. There are certainly more options at the wide receiver, but the same can be said at the running back position.

Rookie Donnel Pumphrey has the ability to catch the football out of the backfield. Don’t be surprised to see him line up in the slot on occasion. He’s been compared to teammate Darren Sproles, who also has quite a bit left in the tank as well.

An early projection

Anticipate healthy contribution from Ertz, but expect his numbers to go down slightly. He has familiarity with Wentz, and he’ll be open open on plays. It’s still reasonable to believe that, with so many options in the passing game, Ertz’s production has a chance at dipping. Figure Ertz to snag around 60 catches, 700 receiving yards, and three touchdowns this season.

Could he potentially break out and put himself in the conversation with the elite tight ends in the NFL? Sure, anything is possible, but we’ll have to wait on time to tell the tale.