For the first time since the end of last season we had a chance to hear from tight end Zach Ertz about his return to Philly, how he handled the offseason, and a bit about his physical and mental health heading into the 2021 NFL season.
Ertz opened by acknowledging a lot has happened this offseason but he’s excited to be in Philly and is putting all of that behind him. He went on to say that this is the most fun he’s had coming to work — enjoying his time with the new coaching staff, the young players, and the vets — and the tight end said it’s been freeing to just focus on football.
“Last year, I was hurt. I had an ankle injury that was freaking debilitating at times — had surgery in the offseason — and practicing at the end of last year just wasn’t fun because it was a grind each and every day. Now, I feel great. The ankle feels great. So just to come out here with a new coaching staff has been so much fun. Coming to compete everyday with has been a blast, which I love to do, never shy away from that.
Ultimately, like I’ve said all along, this is the place I want to be, this is the place I want to retire. And those feelings haven’t changed.”
He went on to emphasize that he’s moving on from the offseason drama, noting that there have been apologies and things have been mended between himself and the organization. Ertz said a lot has changed since he last spoke to reporters at the end of the 2020 season and it was an emotional time for him, but in the months since, he’s leaned on his faith and with that, and his rehab time in Arizona, felt like he’s coming off of his best training camp performance in his career.
The tight end said that he was able to stay focused this offseason despite all the trade talks and rumors because getting his ankle right was the priority, and realizing that if that didn’t get healed up, it didn’t matter where he played. From crutches, to a walking boot, Ertz detailed the eight week grind he had in order to get back on his feet after surgery.
He also made an effort to keep all the business things in-house and specifically told his agent not to leak anything about the situation because he loves the team and the city, and didn’t want it to get messy.
“I love this team at the end of the day, so for me, it was all about respecting that. This team is going to be a lot bigger than #86 going forward, and so for me, I love this city too much to ‘burn it down’ like some people wanted me to do at times, or whatnot, because ultimately I love this place.
Ertz went on to talk about how this was a year of personal growth, and part of the reason he was able to enjoy camp so much was because his mindset shifted and he stopped trying to compete with his teammates and just focus on himself. The tight end said it was freeing to change from a me-against-the-world mentality to seeing himself as part of the team. He also really enjoyed helping the young group of players around him with both on and off the field stuff. Ertz also said that he’s enjoyed learning so much from new players and new coaches.
“I’ve learned so much from Nick Sirianni as a receiver, and as a receiver’s coach and him implementing so much of his techniques and details. He’s so good as a technician that I’m just picking things each and every day from him that I never even thought about. And, it was almost counter-intuitive to the way that I had so much success at a lot of things. So, I’m excited to kind of show off some of the things I’ve learned from Coach.”
The tight end also talked a little bit about spending some of the offseason recovering side-by-side with his wife, Julie Ertz, and how it was a good time for their relationship to get so much time together but also to push each other through injuries. He noted that seeing Julie compete with so much energy in the Tokyo Olympics inspired him to bring more juice to the football field and to gas up his teammates.