By Annie Ross
No matter which quarterback is under center when the Eagles open against the Browns in September — Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel or Carson Wentz — one thing is for sure:
If the Birds have any chance for a successful 2016, tight end Zach Ertz has to have a great year.
Ertz’s last four games in 2015 — 35 catches and 450 yards— are a hint of what’s to come.
The fourth-year tight end missed essentially all of training camp and the preseason with a core muscle injury, missing out on critical time to build a rapport with his new quarterback.
He later missed one game and most of another due to a concussion. Even Ertz’s meager touchdown total of two is explained away somewhat, as he had multiple scores erased by penalties.
It’s difficult to say Doug Pederson is even the coach to squeeze significantly more out of the former second-round pick. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, another budding star tight end, posted similar numbers last season with 72 catches, 875 yards and five scores.
Although with a year of good health and a familiarity with the QB, Ertz’s first 1,000-yard season and Pro Bowl might be inevitable. If that’s what it takes to be considered a breakout year, sure, 2016 may well be it.