More on the TEs

Posted: July 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 21 Comments »

Yesterday I wrote a scouting report on Zach Ertz. Readers had some comments and questions. I figured I would address those issues and offer some thoughts on the other TEs.

A few people pointed out that Ertz has been a breakout candidate for a couple of years now. Is he a permanent tease? That’s a fair question, but let’s remember that’s he’s just 26 years old. He could play at a high level for the next five years. Some young players peak quickly. Others take time to hone their games and to reach their potential.

What we are talking about with Ertz is him becoming one of the best TEs in the league. That’s not easy. We watched a player like L.J. Smith for years and he never got to the level where Ertz is today. Let’s not confuse Ertz’s situation with someone who is an underachiever or a flat out bad player. Ertz is good. The question is whether he can put it all together and become a star TE.

Other people talked about Ertz disappearing for parts of seasons or in big games. This is a more complicated point. Ertz played with a different starting QB in 2014, 2015 and 2016. There were different schemes in 2015 and 2016. Stability can really help a young player develop. Developing chemistry with a QB also helps quite a bit. With TEs, it isn’t so much about timing. You are dealing more with being on the same page. TEs play a lot in traffic. The TE and QB need to see the same thing and make the same read. You can’t work on that in Fargo. It takes game experience for this kind of chemistry to develop.

Ertz hasn’t played with a QB who had a passer rating of 90 or higher since his rookie year. That was when Nick Foles had his insane year and posted one of the highest ratings in league history. Ertz was a role player back then. As his playing time has increased, the level of QB play has decreased. This could be the year that changes. And make no mistake that having the right QB can make a big difference.

The level of QB play doesn’t affect his blocking, but Ertz was a high 2nd round pick because of his ability as a receiver, not as a blocker. Improved QB play should help to bring out the best in him.

Some people wondered if I was too generous in regard to RAC ability. Run after the catch is more than just breaking tackles. Ertz can use his speed to get yards after the catch. Not everyone has to be Celek and try to bull their way for yards.

The bottom line is that this year should tell us a lot about Ertz. If he takes his game to the next level, the question is simply how good he’ll be. If Ertz is inconsistent and just flashes the potential, we might be seeing that he’s going to be that player for ever. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it’s not what this team needs as the Eagles try to get back to the postseason.

*****

As I watched the games to study Ertz, I did check out the other TEs. Brent Celek still has moments where he is so good. Ertz uses athleticism to get open. Celek uses angles, experience and physicality. He knows how to push off to create just a bit of separation. Celek knows how to use his hands/arms to keep defenders off his body while he’s running the route.

Trey Burton is more of a mystery man. He is talented, but I’m not sure how good he is. Because of his size, I’m not sure if Burton can ever become a true #2 TE or if he’s stuck being a role player. He’s so good on STs that having him as the #3 TE isn’t a bad thing. You just see him flash good ability at times and wonder if he can be something more than the #3 guy.

*****

I have mixed feelings on Brown. Played WR in college and went against small school competition. Can he block and adjust to the physicality of life as an NFL TE?

Baldy likes him and so does Fran Duffy. The kid is talented, but I think he’s a major long shot. Hope I’m wrong.

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  • SteveH

    Ertz had that scary collarbone break earlier in the year too, the one where he could have been seriously hurt or killed if he had been hit again in the right way. I wonder how long it took him to get all the way back mentally after that, even if physically he was there.

  • A Roy

    At some point, “you are what your record says you are.” If he’s ever going to realize his potential, this year, with the same QB, same staff and, hopefully, no injuries must be it.

  • truehaynes

    If lesean keeps playing for a few more years at what point does he approach hof status? Statistically he has almost 12000 total yards in 8 seasons and 73 tds. If he gets 15000 and 100 tds is he in?

    • truehaynes

      Plus 5 pro bowls in 8 years and 2 first team all pro. Did still ran for 5.4 yards per carry last season too.

      • D3FB

        It’s going to be tough for him. He’s going to be up for it right around the same time as AP(yes), Frank Gore(yes), Marshawn(maybe), Forte(maybe), and CJ2k(unlikely).

        12k yards rushing probably puts him in. Another all-pro probably gets him in.

        Warrick Dunn has 15k total yards, and isn’t in (lacks awards too)

        But every single rusher over 12k is in.
        https://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/rush_yds_career.htm

        He’s going to be right on the bubble.

        • Guy Media

          I was going to hem and haw a little bit about Gore based on my impression of his play, but then I looked him up on pro football reference. He rather quietly put up some great career numbers. He’s currently 10th on career yards from scrimmage and likely to be no worse than 9th after this season is done.

          The 12k rushing yards as a RB barometer is such a trash way of voting in RBs because Bettis absolutely didn’t have the production do warrant his induction into the HOF over Dunn, Watters, Edge James, and Tiki; who were all better football players than Bettis.

          • iceberg584

            Bettis got in because he was a Steeler. Give him the same numbers and put him on Kansas City, and he doesn’t make it.

          • Guy Media

            Exactly. Once I’m given my rightful seat in the HOF voting room, we’ll correct some of these foolish induction decisions. This year’s joke is Kurt Warner.

          • D3FB

            The 12k barometer makes him a lock. Guys with shittier stats have made it, but it would be very hard to keep him out if he hits that mark.

        • SteveH

          I feel like the HOF awards notoriety and status over actual production. For instance if you’re a huge back nicknamed “The Bus”, that counts for like an extra 8,000 career yards I guess.

          I always thought Natrone Means had the best name for a running back, if he had managed to put up better numbers he’d be a shoe in off name alone. How long until “Natrone Means business” would become a football announcer meme?

        • sonofdman

          So with Gore and Shady, we have a chance for two all time great Eagles running backs to make the HOF!

    • Guy Media

      Getting the HOF voters to use yards from scrimmage over just rushing yards for RBs would be an improvement. It would have kept POS Bettis from getting in.

    • Ankerstjernen

      The answer is yes. His per-game stats are pretty much record setting, among the very best ever. if he keeps it going for just a few more years, there will be no doubt that he deserves it. However he is hurt by the fact that he has played on bum teams without great storylines and never played a big role in the postseason. for some stupid reason this seem to matter (which is why every third HOFer appears to be an overrated steelers player.)

    • meteorologist

      I think he’s as good as Barry Sanders. Should we start comparing shifty backs to Shady now? At what point can we start doing that?

  • Dave

    Ertz seems like the TE version of Maclin, where they both rely on finesse and lack physicality. Saying that, I think he’s the best tight end this team has had since Keith Jackson.

    You could modify the Joe Douglas quote about Donnell Pumphrey to describe Ertz as “a big dog that thinks he’s a little dog, and he plays that way.”

    • P_P_K

      At this point, I’m going with Chad Lewis over Ertz.

      • Ankerstjernen

        People already forgetting how genuinely awesome Celek has been through so many years. He accopmplishes a lot of in every game that goes pretty much unnoticed by most fans.

  • Guy Media

    I wished they’d have added a blocking TE this year to keep in the roster as TE4 so we could confidently move on from Celek after this year. That 14-155-0 stat line from Celek is really hard to stomach at a penny over vet minimum, but he’s a $4 mil hit this year and a $5 mil hit in 2018.

    • or____

      I don’t you keep a guy on the 53 man roster for “next year”. Burton can block and Ertz needs to continue to work on it. I think it’s not too difficult to replace a Celek given his current role. Not saying it’s easy as hell, but it’s doable. Who you drop to make room for TE 4? Hard to make an argument in my book for that.

  • xmbk

    Good stuff. Big thanks for putting out such quality material during the dry season.

    • Guy Media

      Seconded. There are only so many ways I can creatively thing up to attack Gil Brandt over his terrible lists in the off season.