The Eagles tight end group is poised to thrive in 2016


The Philadelphia Eagles have completely revamped their offensive philosophy under new head coach, Doug Pederson, and the Philadelphia faithful will get their first taste of it this Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns.

One aspect of the new, but familiar west coast offense, is the use of the tight ends. The Eagles currently have three talented tight ends on the roster, but as an overall group weren’t utilized to their full potential under Kelly. Already in the preseason that quickly changed with Pederson calling the plays.

Eagles video content manager, Fran Duffy, recently broke down the use of the ’13 Personnel’ in his latest film room breakdown. He explains the formations and different play packages the Eagles will be using each tight end in this season on the link below.

The current depth chart for the Eagles features Brent Celek as the team’s No. 1 tight end, followed by Zach Ertz No. 2, and Trey Burton No. 3. The order of each of these tight ends on the depth chart means little to nothing with how each will be utilized differently in different play packages.

Celek, for example, is the team’s best blocking tight end. He’s also known for having reliable hands, which makes him a security blanket for Carson Wentz. He was given an extension this offseason that guarantees him not only a role in Pederson’s offense, but securing him retiring an Eagle as well.

The Eagles struggled mightily with drops last season leading the NFL in that category, but Celek didn’t drop any of his targets. Expect his role to be a contributor in run-blocking and being the team’s security blanket as he has been throughout his career.

Ertz was rewarded with a handsome extension this offseason. The Eagles signed him to a five-year extension through the 2021 season that will pay him $42.5 million with $20 million guaranteed. The deal made Ertz one of the highest paid tight ends in the NFL and in Pederson’s offense he might just become that. Ertz is the Eagles most skilled tight end and has yet to fulfill his full potential. Being back in a pro-system, like he was during his collegiate career at Stanford, should unlock it.

Ertz has proven he can line up on the outside and be a physical matchup nightmare versus cornerbacks. Ertz has also shown major improvement in his weakest are during the preseason. His run blocking looks vastly improved and hopefully translates into the regular season. Pederson has coached a tight end of Ertz’s caliber during his offensive coordinator tenure in Kansas City by the name of Travis Kelce. Kelce became the Chiefs main pass catcher and given the money invested in Ertz, that’s the role we should expect from him moving forward.

The wildcard of the tight end group is Burton. He’s been apart of the Eagles organization ever since making the roster as a rookie free agent in 2014. He’s clearly shown progression over the past three seasons and if his preseason performance is any indication of how he’ll be used this season, it should excite many.

Burton is a matchup nightmare in the middle of the field and he’ll give linebackers fits trying to cover him. He also gives the Eagles another reliable red zone target, which will improve the team’s chances of finishing out scoring drives with six points. As pointed out in Fran Duffy’s ’13 Personnel’ breakdown, the Colts defense was in disarray figuring out which tight end to cover. That led to Burton being wide open in the flat for an easy touchdown.

The Eagles offense will be a complete collective effort from all their position groups this season. The tight ends especially will improve the passing game that struggled a season ago and take the pressure off Wentz during his rookie season. The wide receiver group is shaky as is, especially after last season’s performance, but the emergence of the team’s tight end group will relieve pressure off of the unit.

This offense is completely revamped philosophy wise and skill player wise. It’s hard to pinpoint an individual player that imposes a threat to other teams, but that’s not how this offense should be viewed anyways. It’s a collective effort throughout the offense and that should be taken into account throughout the 2016 season.