The NFL has become a league where explosive offenses often lead to success. Schemes place an emphasis on a fast paced tempo in order to outscore opponents. New ways of designing these types of creative game plans can be traced to college football.
Former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly implemented a system where huddles rarely take place. This led to a lot of success for his team including an appearance in 2011’s BCS National Championship Game. Kelly now hopes that similar results will follow at the next level.
There was a change when the Philadelphia Eagles chose Kelly to replace Andy Reid. Dynamic talent is present with wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but one interesting player is tight end Zach Ertz who was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft from Stanford.
Watching Ertz slip to that point proved to be surprising as he was considered a top prospect from a positional perspective. He possesses enough speed to be a valuable contributor in Kelly’s offense. Though he lacks elite quickness, Ertz has the ability to catch many passes thrown in his direction using tremendous height and strength. When breaking down his game an ability to beat defenders consistently is displayed. Bringing in 15 touchdown receptions in three years suggests a great amount of potential. Blocking, however, needs to improve for him to develop a complete skill set. In order for Ertz to start there are other talented players that must be overcome.
Brent Celek was a fifth-round selection by Philadelphia in the 2007 draft. Like Ertz, Celek mainly holds value in a receiving capacity. Between 2009 and 2011 he registered 17 touchdown receptions. Last season proved to not be as kind as he only scored once, and Ertz gives additional competition to provide a push.
James Casey signed as a free agent from the Houston Texans. Casey switches between tight end and fullback, and that versatility allows for an opportunity to keep opposing defenses guessing. Only having four career touchdowns may suggest untapped potential, but Casey appears ready to develop. Preexisting knee issues also appear not to concern coaches. Other players will not be Ertz’s lone roadblock as he attempts to become starting tight end.
League rules prevent individuals from participating in team events before graduating from college. Ertz is expected to earn his degree in June and as a result he will miss all OTAs. Mandatory minicamp begins June 4 and not being involved in some of these situations may hamper the rookie’s ability to transition. Despite that, I still look for him to see significant playing time before eventually starting this season.