Evaluating Ertz

Posted: July 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 48 Comments »

Zach Ertz makes for a tough discussion. He is one of the few players who is legitimately underrated and overrated at the same time. I referred to him in a previous post as a “complementary player”. Some readers nodded their head, while others said “huh?”

Ertz has the potential to be an outstanding player, possibly even a star TE. The problem is that Ertz doesn’t always play to his potential and he’s been prone to some big mistakes. There is no question of talent. He simply must become a more consistently physical player. The size, skill and athleticism are there. He is lacking in toughness and physicality, although there are times when he shows flashes in those areas.

Zach Ertz scouting report

Size: 6-5, 250
Birthdate: 11-10-1990
Experience: entering 5th season

RELEASE:  6

ROUTE RUNNING:  7

HANDS:  8

RECEIVE SHORT:  7

RECEIVE DEEP:  8

CATCH IN TRAFFIC:  7

RUN AFTER CATCH:  5

IN-LINE BLOCK:  4

BLOCK ON THE MOVE:  5

Positives:  Talented, athletic pass-catcher in the prime of his career. Can be a weapon in the passing game. Has the ability to line up all over the field. Dangerous in space. Linebackers and even some Safeties struggle to cover him due to his outstanding change-of-direction ability. Ertz is deadly when he runs the arrow route. His ability to make quick cuts makes it tough for some defenders to stick with him on underneath routes. Very good intermediate and deep receiver. Has the speed to get open and does a good job of tracking the ball. Has excellent hands. Catches the ball away from his body. Really concentrates on the ball. Made an impressive catch vs WAS on downfield play. Focused on the ball and made tough grab as his legs were cut out from under him. Athletic player who can make plays after the catch. Had a long TD vs SEA called back due to meaningless penalty. Showed excellent speed on that play as he outran a couple of DBs. Put in him in the slot and there are times he looks like a big WR. Excellent body control. Is able to adjust to off-target throws. Shows the potential to be an excellent receiver on 3rd/4th and short situations. When he gets a clean release, is able to make one hard cut and present a target to his QB. Sure-handed TE who will catch the ball if it gets to him.

Negatives:  Plays a physical position, but is not a physical player. That is true as a blocker, route-runner and after the catch. Poor in-line blocker. There is no lack of effort, though. Fires off the ball and engages his defender. The problem is that Ertz doesn’t follow the old football maxim of “run through the target, not to the target”. Makes contact and quits driving. His defender consistently either makes the tackle or is in on the tackle. That must change. Better blocker in space, but still not consistently good. Will beat up on some DBs. Can struggle at times to get open against physical defenders. Doesn’t know how to use his size and strength to create separation. Relies too much on athleticism. That works in space, but in traffic a TE must be able to fight through contact and get open. Terrible when it comes to breaking tackles after the catch. Went most of the 2016 season without breaking a single tackle. That is unacceptable for a player of his size and ability. Ertz should be better in the Red Zone. There are too many plays where he and the QB aren’t on the same page. Seems to be freelancing at times. The RZ is one place where that can’t happen. You must run the correct route and fight for the ball when it comes your way.

Overall:  I watched almost five complete games. I wanted to see Ertz early, middle and late in the season. His highs are really impressive. Ertz is outstanding at times. Put on the SEA game and you’ll be shocked at how good he looks on some plays and how awful he looks on others. The talent is there. The only person keeping Zach Ertz from being a Pro Bowl TE is Zach Ertz. He must get tougher and more physical. History is filled with athletic TEs who are marginal blockers, but Ertz has to improve to get to that level. Rarely wins on in-line situations. That has to change. Part of it is technique. He plays with poor pad level at times. Doesn’t always bring his legs with him when blocking. Doesn’t have the upper body strength to get away with that. The biggest thing is attitude. Ertz must be more aggressive and assertive. He doesn’t play to his size and strength. Playing with more of a sense of aggression would help his blocking, route-running and ability to break tackles after the catch.

If things ever fully click for Ertz, could become an outstanding player and huge asset for Carson Wentz. Ertz is already a good player, but still needs to take the next step if he’s going to reach his full potential.

******

 

Ertz’s 5 best catches from 2016

Career stats

_


  • Insomniac

    Ertz has hit his ceiling if he doesn’t learn how to actually use his size. He doesn’t need to learn how to be aggressive since he probably doesn’t have a good reason to. He’s already getting paid, he’s been relatively healthy, his teammates like him, and his job isn’t on the line. You can’t teach a dog a new trick without an incentive.

    Mental make up and reflexes of a soft player has been ingrained him for years so it’ll be very hard to teach him how to be aggressive and physical. Most people are completely fine with how he is so it enables him to just continue being what he is.

    • Guy Media

      I wonder if there is some type of martial arts (but not roid head MMA; thanks again Lane!!!!) training that could be used to get Ertz to play with more of an edge.

      • P_P_K

        Jay Glazer that sponsors some kind of MMA training during the off-season.

        • Guy Media

          MMA = PED. Lane was with those dudes prior to his suspension.

      • Insomniac

        Can’t turn play doh into a brick without some chemicals!

  • Guy Media

    “The only person keeping Zach Ertz from being a Pro Bowl TE is Zach Ertz.”

    This is perfectly stated. Seeing some more “want to” and consistency out of Ertz would be most welcome due to all of Tommy’s correctly stated points about the dude’s talent.

    The inconsistent play was something you’d hope he’d have worked out while he was rookie salary Ertz rather than 5th highest AAV contract Ertz. His recent signing bonus game played with the team shows they want to give him through 2018 to get the corner turned, so I hope he does it.

    The bottom line is that we need existing guys under long term contracts to step up their game so we don’t have to use excessive additional draft and/or cap capital to add premium talent.

    Ertz is absolutely a strong candidate for that type of step up.

  • kajomo

    I don’t disagree that he could be more physical, but I think the bigger problem is he hasn’t put together a full season of consistent production. If he was a 1200yd 10 TD guy, people wouldn’t be complaining about his lack physicality.

    Again while it would be nice to see him be more aggressive, he doesn’t need to be in order to reach high level receiving production. I do think having the same QB will help him going into this year. He has Wentz’s trust. If he can stay healthy I expect a 1000+yard season from him. If he could somehow learn to block that would be the cherry on top.

    • meteorologist

      As Tommy said , aggression would help him become a more consistent receiver (route running, catch in traffic, ).

  • Allen3000

    Solid post and I agree on all points. One important negative/weakness that I’m not sure you addressed, but recently Jimmy did: his lack of production in meaningful games. If you break down his stats over the last 2 years, his #’s are extremely skewed. In the months of September/October/November he’s only amassed 1 TD compared to 5TDs in the month of December/Jan. The numbers are quite glaring and telling. I’ll list some examples.

    In 2015, Ertz amassed just 10 catches/104 yards/0 TDs in the first 4 games of the season. 450 of his 853 yards on the season came in the last 4 games of the season. The Eagles were 4-7 heading in to that stretch and all but eliminated from the playoffs. Think about that: more than half of his production came in the last 25% of the season in games where the team had nothing to lose at that point.

    In the first 5 games of Ertz’s 2016 season he went: 15 catches/150 yards/ 0 TDs. There was a 3 game stretch where he went 6 catches/ 55 yards/ 0 TDs. Once again, his most productive day (13/139/2TDs) came on the last game of the season which again, was a meaningless game. The last 5 games of the year he amassed 40 catches/ 443 yards/ 3 TDs. The previous 9 games he started he amassed 38 catches/ 373 yards/ 1 TD. By the way, the team was 5-9 in games he played in last year.

    I understand it’s easy to cherry pick stats to make an argument, but I think this is certainly a reason for concern. The Eagles are paying Ertz to be a top tier TE and getting very uneven results in return. The final #s may look good, but he has way too many games where he provides little value. We need him to be a more consistent contributor if the team expects to be a contender.

    • Guy Media

      I wonder if the meaningful game issue has to do with good teams having a good DC that keyed in on Ertz with coverage and forced Foles / Bradford / Wentz to use other “receivers” instead.

  • Gary Barnes

    I came to post a similar line to Allen3000, but he saved me the trouble.

    Consistency is the major issue with Ertz; one just never knows if he will produce on the field game to game.

    Some of that is QB related; hopefully Wentz will give us more consistency there.

    Some of it is injury related; he is routinely banged up which hampers his athletic strengths.

    My dad used to own a Jaguar, beautiful car, smooth ride, great handling etc., but constantly on the blocks or in the shop for repairs. It became a family joke after several incidents where it would run great for an hour’s drive and then break down on the way home.

    That is how I feel overall about Ertz. Good player, but with potential for so much more if he could stay on the field and produce more consistently.

    • Allen3000

      Yeah, very good points on the QB turnover and injuries he’s had to deal with. I don’t want to turn this into an Ertz bashing session because I still have a lot of faith in the guy and we have all seen glimpses of just how great he can be at his best.

      But, this is the NFL and a high premium is placed on player health/durability. Fair or unfair, that’s just how it is.

      I feel like this is a make or break year for Ertz. If we get the same results of the last few years (disappearing in stretches, big #s in meaningless games), then the team should really think about moving on from him. I just don’t see the value in paying a guy big $ when he has glaring deficiencies and/or doesn’t produce on a consistent basis.

  • lewis don

    The negatives you list here are the main reason I am not a fan of Ertz and wont be until it changes. The lack of breaking tackles is my biggest pet peeve. In highly competitive situations every yard counts and I cant see Ertz being our go to TE without having the ability to break tackles at even a minimal rate. I am ready for the next TE.

  • eagleyankfan

    I’m not making excuses for anyone. Players develop a pattern on how they play and with that comes expectations(good or bad). It’s up to that player to improve. With that said — last year is just that… last year. Last year the wr group was terrible. This year, with better wr’s, expectations of Ertz will be different. Play (good or bad) can be contagious. Better play from others might lead to better play by Ertz.
    ….
    Was(is?) Ertz in Fargo?

    • Gary Barnes

      The patterns with Ertz go beyond just last season

    • iceberg584

      No, but he did pose nude with his wife for ESPN.

  • Tom33

    I continue to be amazed at the reaction toward Zach Ertz. I was one of his defenders on the post Tommy referenced above and think his stats alone make him a top 10, maybe top 5 TE in this league.

    He’s not the physical guy that Gronk or Witten is (or Celek for that matter). He’s more in the mold of a Jimmy Graham. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a mauling blocker at the line of scrimmage.

    As far as first half/second half stats, last year he had that detached rib pressing against his spine early in the season and missed a month. Also, I think you need to account for the fact that this is the first year he has had any consistency at the QB position. 2014 was Foles/Sanchez, 2015 Bradford, and 2016 was Wentz. Perhaps it’s as much an issue that the QB’s aren’t figuring out how to find the guy until later in the season as it is that Ertz only plays in garbage time.

    Finally – back to the stats – for the past 2 seasons:

    Ertz: 153 rec/1669 yds/6 TD’s on 218 targets (26 in RZ)
    Graham: 113 rec/1728/8 on 169 targets (29 RZ)

    As I said before, I’d take Kelce or Gronk over Ertz. Reed’s a better player but has trouble staying on the field. Other than that you’d have a hard time convincing me that there are many better options, especially if you account for age.

    But yeah, he’s no Chad Lewis or LJ Smith.

    • D3FB

      Problem with comparing him to Graham is the Seahawks don’t really know how to use Graham.

      • Guy Media

        The Saints certainly did, but I’m not sure how well they capitalized on the return on the trade in terms of impact on W/L record.

        • D3FB

          Unger is good but Anthony is just a taller Kendricks.

          Mickey Loomis fucked that franchise. They wasted prime years of Brees because he can’t manage the cap.

          • Sb2bowl

            They’ve made so many terrible investments on the defensive side of the ball; and the people they didn’t resign, have had positive careers elsewhere.

            Still bummed we couldn’t pry Cooks from them though.

          • D3FB

            Sad part is they are pretty good at drafting.

            Cameron Jordan, Cooks, Stills, Terron Armstead, Vaccaro, Michael Thomas, Rankins, Akiem Hicks

          • Sb2bowl

            Agreed; watching Armstead handle Cole in the playoff game was infuriating. Going in to that game, I thought our line was going to abuse him- turns out it was the other way around.

            Weird how they hit on both Cooks and Stills, but both are gone. Didn’t Rankins get hurt last year?

          • D3FB

            His tape was so good. I watched it before the combine and went “holy shit this dude is JP level good”.

          • Guy Media

            Yup. Loomis = trash.

      • Insomniac

        I still don’t know why they won’t use him like the Saints did.

    • Allen3000

      In the previous 4 seasons prior to arriving to Seattle, Graham had nearly 350 receptions, 4,500 yards receiving and 46 TDs. In 2015 he missed 5 games and last year he had 900+yards receiving and 6 TDs.

      In 4 seasons Ertz has just over 2800 yards receiving and 13 TD’s. In the months of Sept/Oct/Nov, Ertz has 4 rec TD’s over his 4 year career. Jimmy Graham matched that total just last season. They’re not really in the same league at all.

      Again, I still have faith in the guy and am hoping for the best. But we have to be realistic. He’s the 5th highest paid TE in the league so he *should* be putting up big numbers – especially if he’s more of a ‘finesse/ receiving TE.’

    • Gary Barnes

      I think equivalents for Ertz from recent Philadelphia sports teams are Simon Gagne and Pat Burrell. Very good players, but ones that for whatever reason never seemed to reach their full potential on the field due to injuries or bad habits or other facets of inconsistency.

      No one argues they are bad players or players who have never performed at a a high level – just that they largely tease and then vanish at other times. It is frustrating as a fan to watch.

  • Seth S. Scott

    Its funny because I always have the same feeling from him from game to game, strictly from a “TV Viewer” perspective. Some games I’m yelling his name all game, others he seems to dissapear.

    Its easy to think with the additions of Alshon and Torrey that Ertz will get less attempts but I think it should actually open up the field for him as people double Alshon and give him more open looks.

  • sonofdman

    So…Breakout season for Ertz this year?

    • Ark87

      He will have a statistical breakout season eventually by virtue of having more good games than bad. But I doubt will ever be consistent enough for greatness though.

      If he can round out his game enough to be a fully functional tight end, statistical inconsistency won’t be a big problem as long as he can contribute in other ways.

    • GermanEagle

      Lol.

    • Gary Barnes

      well played

  • Sb2bowl

    Ertz has all of the attributes a fan in Philly would want, except one– Grit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; he’s soft. He doesn’t have the killer instinct to finish runs, to punish people for even thinking of attempting to tackle him.

    That’s what holds him back. I love the guy, but he could be special. Instead, he’s known as “he could be…………”

    • RobNE

      that’s the only attribute that counts!

  • GermanEagle

    Happy (belated) birthday dear Tommy!

    Just noticed that nobody sent his wishes yesterday so here’s cheers to you mate! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f9553fa40e2bc2da837fb9bede159ff889f2e05c6c6de29774a07b5e22d4886e.jpg

    • Sb2bowl

      It was his birthday?

      • GermanEagle

        Yesterday yes.

        • P_P_K

          Thanks for the info.

  • bushisamoron

    Talented but not aggressive enough. That sums him up for me

    • bobeph

      you’re about the dumbest poster on here, you qweefer

  • T_S_O_P

    Liked Kelce more than Ertz and still do. In a do-over, would still pick Ertz, because we’d have no shot at Kelce outside of using a first rounder for him.

    • Bert’s Bells

      I recall that as the consensus at the time as well.

  • daveH

    Sat behind the Schmertz family at a Knicks game once .. all 4 of them with SCHMERTZ on their jersies .. not sure any of them ever made their high school JV team even … Schmertz.

  • Guy Media

    http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20047210/dallas-cowboys-running-back-ezekiel-elliott-preparing-response-nfl-investigation

    His response should be an apology to the woman he beat mercilessly over that long of a period of time and a thank you to Mr. Goodell for only suspending him for 2 games.

  • P_P_K

    Yo’ T-Law. Happy Belated Birthday. My world’s a better place because of you. For real.

  • Pingback: Iggles Blitz » Blog Archive » More on the TEs()

  • ColorSgt

    Hope you had a great birthday, Tommy!