The passing of the torch many predicted for last season never really came to fruition. Celek was on the field for 827 of the offensive snaps, or 69 percent of the time, compared to 603 snaps (50 percent) for Ertz. It really does come back to blocking. Ertz was called on as a run-blocker 161 times last season to Celek's count of 443.
Ertz knows the only way to take over the lead role in this run-heavy system is to improve that area of his game, and he's worked towards that end. His busy travel itinerary this offseason in the name of getting better included a stop to study under former offensive line coach Hudson Houck.
It stands to reason that Ertz will see a jump in playing time as he continues to develop into a more well-rounded tight end. While Celek's snaps might very well drop as a result, Kelly is a huge fan of the nine-year veteran and will likely still deploy him quite a bit. It wouldn't be all that surprising, then, if we saw an increase in the number of two tight-end sets in 2015.
This makes a lot of sense and is something many predicted would happen when Kelly took over the team a few years ago, however it never really came about. With the loss of Jeremy Maclin at WR, the Birds are a bit unproven at wideout, and if Ertz is indeed improved and can earn more playing time, Celek can still hold his own at the position as both a blocker and receiver. We still rank Ertz higher on our TE list, consider him a mid-range TE1 option, and think this is the year he finally busts out a bit. However, it looks like Celek is going to remain a factor.
As the season progressed, it was clear that Zach Ertz was taking on a larger role in the Eagles' offense. Over the final four-game stretch of the season, Ertz edged out Brent Celek in total offensive snaps (168 to 167), and his historic 15-catch performance (an Eagles record) against Washington in Week 16 was the shining example of what Ertz might be able to accomplish in his NFL career.
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Most (73%) of his snaps came on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- first DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint.
Eagles beat writer Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice:
Anytime a tight end made any kind of impressive catch, it always seemed to be Zach Ertz. He was very active, and is already becoming one of Sam Bradford's favorite targets. Ertz has said that he wants to be the best tight end to ever play the game. While that is obviously a very lofty goal, I feel fairly ceretain that if the Eagles play him as much as they should this season, he's going to put up big time numbers.
That's the rub with Ertz: Thus far, the team has limited his snaps to keep Brent Celek on the field due to his superior blocking. Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations.
At this point it is clear that Mark Sanchez is ahead of San Bradford when it comes to his ability to move the offense. Sanchez was on fire during both the seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills, getting his team into the endzone twice. Sanchez's best throw of the day came to tight end Brent Celek, who he hit for a touchdown over the fingertips of two defenders. If head coach Chip Kelly really does open up the competition at quarterback, Bradford has his work cut out for him.
We're expecting Bradford to win the job, but if Sanchez continues to play efficiently, Bradford will have to play that much better to win the job in training camp. Whoever wins the job should offer high-end QB2 numbers in Chip Kelly's offense.
Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia on the state of the team's tight end corps:
Brent Celek played 69 percent of the snaps last year and finished with 32 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown. Celek was very good as a run blocker, and it's no secret that Chip Kelly thinks the world of him.
Zach Ertz is one of the best receiving options on the team, having finished with 58 grabs for 702 yards. The feeling here is that he was underutilized (50 percent of the snaps) in 2014.
Celek is 30 years old and certainly does not provide the same threat as a receiver that he once did. But it's impossible to overstate how much Kelly loves him. This is still a run-based offense, and Celek is the best blocking tight end on the roster. He carries a $5 million cap hit, which doesn't seem unreasonable. In other words, I don't think he's going anywhere.
Many (including yours truly) thought Ertz would take a bigger chunk out of Celek's snaps last year. Ertz will have to continue to improve his run blocking to earn Kelly's trust. But his role should continue to expand in his third season.
Ertz's run blocking improved dramatically this year, per the grading of the analytics sites. Still, Kapadia's comments about Kelly's affection for Celek do not indicate that the team is ready to give Ertz significantly more playing time. Ertz finished as the #13 TE in standard formats even though he played just 50 percent of his team's snaps.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Eagles TE Brent Celek (neck, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 16.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Eagles TE Brent Celek (neck) took full practice reps again Thursday.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 5:57pm
Eagles TE Brent Celek (neck) practiced fully Wednesday. Celek will be fine to face Washington. He’s a desperation start given his decent rapport with QB Mark Sanchez.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 14. Per the Denver Post, Thomas “ran pass routes during the open viewing session, more activity than he had shown earlier in the week.” But there is “no guarantee” that he returns this week, so owners should get a Plan B ready since the Broncos play in the late round of games. Scott Chandler, Tony Moeaki, Anthony Fasano, Vernon Davis, Mychal Rivera, Tim Wright, Brent Celek, Levine Toiolo or either of the Green Bay tight ends play at the same time as (or later than) Thomas.
On Wednesday, head coach Chip Kelly was asked why TE Zach Ertz isn't seeing the same time he was when the season started.
"Brent Celek is doing a hell of a job," Kelly said. "It would be an injustice to tell Brent he has to sit because we want to put someone else in the game."
"He is an outstanding blocker," Kelly said of Celek. "He might be the best blocking tight end in the league. He is a sure handed receiver. You saw against Carolina he had over 100 yards receiving...It doesn't have to do with Zach, it has to do with how well Brent is playing."
Friday, November 14, 2014, 6:06pm
Eagles TE Brent Celek (ankle, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 11. Celek is worth a look in deep leagues given his apparent rapport with Mark Sanchez and the Eagles’ willingness to leave Zach Ertz on the sideline.
Thursday, November 13, 2014, 6:29pm
Eagles TE Brent Celek (ankle) took full practice reps again Thursday. Celek is worth a look in deep leagues given his apparent rapport with Mark Sanchez and the Eagles’ willingness to leave Zach Ertz on the sideline.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 5:52pm
Eagles TE Brent Celek (ankle) practiced fully Wednesday. Celek is worth a look in deep leagues given his apparent rapport with Mark Sanchez and the Eagles’ willingness to leave Zach Ertz on the sideline.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz has started to see his role in the offense slowly decrease each week. The tight end was targeted 10 times in the first two games of the season, and was targeted eight times in the team's loss to the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago. Since that loss, Ertz has seen the ball come his way just five times in the past two weeks, a lack of action that has the tight end searching for answers.
"I asked them to put me on punt return, just so I could get out on the field," Ertz said. "I thought I did a good job with that."
One issue that could be keeping Ertz off the field is his blocking. His ability to hold his own on the offensive line was a major sticking point for coaches this past training camp. So far this season Ertz has been in on just 102 plays where he is asked to block.
"I don't know to be honest," Ertz said on if blocking was the issue. "I thought I blocked well tonight. I thought I played very well."
The story went on to say that, by comparison, veteran tight end Brent Celek — who caught five catches for 116 yards against Carolina — has been asked to block 266 times this season, meaning at this point, the team trusts Celek to block more than they do Ertz. With the Eagles line getting healthy, it's probably no coincidence Celek was more involved in the passing game in Week 10, something everyone thought would be said of Ertz. Right now, it seems like the team is going with the more versatile Celek who has always been able to block and catch. Whatever the issue is, Ertz seems bothered by it based on his comments in the story. It's going to be tough to trust him in fantasy lineups until we start to see more targets.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 7:41pm
Look at the numbers, and Brent Celek is having the worst season of his career.
Watch him actually play football, and he might be having the best year of his career.
Celek, who averaged nearly 600 receiving yards in his first seven NFL seasons, has just 90 yards through eight games this year. He doesn’t have a touchdown, his per-catch average of 6.4 is half his career average, and he has just two catches longer than eight yards halfway through the season.
And, yeah, he’s playing better than ever.
Celek, one of the most productive receiving tight ends in the NFL since 2009, has morphed into one of the league’s finest blocking tight ends by necessity.
With an offensive line in shambles – the Eagles have used 13 different O-line combinations so far, and that number will go up this weekend – the Eagles have desperately needed Celek on the line of scrimmage and not running pass patterns.
This likely won't change. The Eagles expect G Evan Mathis back in Week 10, however G Todd Herremans has been placed on IR Tuesday.
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