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Zach Ertz has never been interesting in blocking since he was 14.

Posted by John T. Reed on

I just saw the Eagles Zach Ertz, the Eagles tight end, fail to make a needed block on a qb read option keep. My son and I were his first football coaches freshman year of high school.

I was often mad at him then because he seemed uninterested in the play unless he was tackling the ball carrier or carrying, throwing, or catching the ball.

On defense, he would go where he thought the probability of his making the tackle was maximized, often leaving his area of responsibility to do so. At outside linebacker, he cost us the Cal game that year slanting straight toward the QB on a sweep and thereby letting the tailback get outside for the game-winning TD.

On offense, he would throw, carry, or catch, but not block. I went to a Stanford game to see if he was finally blocking. He got injured early in the game so I did not get to see any blocks.

Niners tight End Brent Jones’ daughter went to the high school where I coached Ertz. The varsity head coach recruited Jones to Coach Ertz. I assumed that would cure him of his indifference to blocking. I was wrong. I have repeatedly read comments about his lack of interest in blocking throughout his career.

After the poor blocking on that play today, the announcer commented that they don’t pay Ertz to block. They pay him to catch passes, which he did on the next play.

That’s bull! I used to tell my receivers how many passes the star Niners receiver caught the previous Sunday—typically five or six—then I would note how many total offensive plays there had been—typically 60. Then I would ask, “So what is a receiver’s main job?” “Blocking,” they would answer.

The season before, when I was offensive coordinator, I got so fed up with my receivers’ lack of interest in anything buy catching passes that I fired two of them and replaced them with back-up fullbacks. 

One got the message and I gave him back his job. The other fullback remained at receiver. The rehabilitated receiver told me the corners and linebackers he was blocking got mad at him every game because they were not used to being blocked. An opposing coach later asked me what I did to the receivers to make them such maniacal, dogged downfield blockers. 

“I fired their asses for a few games.”

I am quite surprised that Ertz could star in the NCAA and NFL without rising above that selfishness. I am surprised that neither Jones nor Stanford nor his NFL coaches can get him to block. Ertz is smart. He knows just what he is doing and what he is not doing.
So he made it to the NFL not listening to us coaches about this. He probably has the potential to be Hall of Fame and maybe throw a key block that wins a Super Bowl. But first he needs to stop being a selfish jerk.

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