Eagles: Will Chip Kelly be Able to Utilize all Three Tight-Ends?


The 2015 season was finally going to be the year that Zach Ertz had that breakout performance, adding his name to mix of the elite tight-ends in the NFL.  His offseason commitment to training, improvent with blocking technique, all of it was finally going to pay off, and be enough for Chip Kelly to increase his snap total.

Unfortunately, Ertz sustained a lower body injury early in training camp, which required surgery, and it’s unclear if he will be available to suit up week one against the Falcons.

In his absence, Trey Burton, who was a standout on special teams last season, looked really good as a receiver, adding yet another potential dimension to the Eagles offense.

With Brent Celek locked in as the starter, the Eagles find themselves in a similar situation since the 2013 season. How will Kelly utilize three tight-ends who can all contribute?

In my opinion, Chip Kelly has done an extremely poor job with properly judging his tight-end situation.  It began during Kelly’s rookie season. Ertz was drafted in the second round after signing free agent James Casey. Ertz found himself third on the depth chart, but with his standout “receiving” skills at Stanford University, the second round pick looked poised to help the Eagles in the red-zone, after they finished 28th in the league during the 2012 season.

Since then, the potential of Ertz has been seen in spurts, but his snap count has been limited, all due to the below-average ability to block that he entered the league with.

The constant reason that Chip Kelly continues to revert back to is the fact that Brent Celek is an exceptional blocker and will continue to start for the Eagles. But Kelly is considered an offensive genius by many, one who should be able to put his players in the best position for success.

When it comes to offensive playmakers, coaches design their playbook to highlight their strengths, instead of reiterating their weaknesses for why their snaps are limited.  Neither Jimmy Graham or Greg Olsen have found success in the NFL for their blocking, they are “receiving” tight-ends, the same as Ertz.

Granted, none of those teams have a Celek in front of them. Even if they did, it wouldn’t stop either of the coaching staffs from properly utilzing the elite pass catching ability that both have. It has in Kelly’s case.

Trey Burton has some qualities that I can recall during Chris Cooley’s career in Washington, that h-back role, but it’s hard for me to get excited about the role of Burton because I’m reminded of how Ertz has been utilized during his first two seasons.

It’s almost as if Chip does less with having more, which perplexes me. Why doesn’t he draw up more multiple tight-end sets, that would allow Celek to still be an effective blocker, but would also get another playmaker (Ertz or Burton) on the field more often? Heck, having Ertz as a decoy may even allow Celek to get open more as a receiver.

Additionally, Couldn’t Ertz or Burton spell a guy like Riley Cooper on a play? Both guys lined up as receiver in college and have demonstrated the ability to do more with the football once it’s in their hands then Cooper ever has. Kelly experimented with this once or twice a season ago with Ertz, but never gave it a consistent look.

I like Celek, and Chip loves Celek, but the love affair can’t be what prevents talent from getting on the football field.  The Eagles could have one of the best if not the best tight-end groups in the entire NFL.

Big guys beat up on the little guys, right Chip?  Ertz and Burton are big guys who will cause weekly mismatches for opposing linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties that try to cover them one on one.

In the history of the Philadelphia Eagles, this offensive group could very well be the most talented to date. Unfortunately, if Chip fails to learn from some of his mistakes from his first two seasons, it’s not going to have any chance to come to fruition and talent will be wasted once again.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles' 2015 Practice Squad

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