The tight end position is evolving in the NFL. Teams like the New England Patriots are using two and three tight end sets to create mismatches against defenses with athletes that are too quick and fast for linebackers and simply too big in stature for safeties and corners to handle.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez both give defensive coordinators fits in the Patriots uptempo attack and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly wants a similar emphasis on the tight ends in his frenetic styled offense.
Kelly gave himself a few tools in his toolbox at the tight end position by snapping up James Casey from the Houston Texans in the early stages of free agency and drafting Stanford tight end Zach Ertz at the top of the second round, an outstanding playmaker in his time at Paolo Alto.
Ertz and Casey give the Eagles a totally different dynamic at tight end than in recent season’s as Casey will act as the move guy who can block and also run routes, while Ertz will be lined up pretty much everywhere in the slot, out wide and in-line. The Eagles believe they have their equivalent of Gronkowski and Hernandez in these two players.
This poses an interesting question of how veteran tight end Brent Celek fits in on the Eagles. Celek is not exactly a spring chicken anymore as he is approaching 30, but he is still the Eagles most effective blocker at the tight end position and gives it his all on every play. I believe Kelly will find a way to make it work with three tight ends as he loves the mismatch this position provides on the football field.
Look for Ertz and Casey to make big impacts even in year one for both on a new team. Ertz is the x-factor, though. He can simply do it all: block, run, jump and provide monster mismatches in the red zone on opposing safeties and linebackers with his 6-foot-5 frame. Kelly loves his tight ends. He now has the personnel to attack opposing defenses in his arsenal. Watch out.