The chatter was a constant throughout the offseason and has continued during the first week of Training Camp - Will 2016 be the Year of Zach Ertz?
Entering his fourth season in the league, the talk surrounding the tight end in the media is nothing new to him. Ertz doesn't pay attention to the outside noise. Instead, he focuses on preparing for the months ahead and doing all he can to improve his play.
"I don't understand what a breakout (season) really means," Ertz said. "I thought I had a good year last year. Obviously, I think there's room for improvement. I'm going into this season as healthy as I've ever been since I've been in the NFL. I'm really excited about this year. I think a lot of guys are excited about the opportunity that's presented in front of us this year. I'm just going out there, not trying to impress anyone in particular – just my teammates."
Ertz is coming off a year in which he set career highs in receptions (75) and receiving yards (853) despite missing a full game and the majority of another. 2015 was a successful season for the tight end, but he knows he's yet to reach his full potential. There's much more he has to offer the City of Philadelphia.
With head coach Doug Pederson's offensive scheme, the Eagles' veteran is poised for increased targets and a larger role than in years prior. Ertz is not taking the added responsibility for granted, which is why the past few months have been dedicated to ensuring he's mentally ready for the challenges that may lie ahead.
"First and foremost, you've got to learn the offense and be successful in that regard, know where you're supposed to be and detail everything out. But, each and every day I want to come out here and make as many plays as possible, whether that be in the run game or the pass game," Ertz said. "That's what I'm focused on right now."
Specifically, the tight end noted he has worked to improve his run blocking to create mismatches on the field, a major positive for the team moving forward and something Pederson spoke about on Sunday morning.
"The one thing that I would say with Zach is, and really with any tight end, is just the physicality of blocking and being on the line of scrimmage," Pederson said. "You know, with Brent Celek sort of taking that lead, he's one that's going to have to sort of be that second guy for us as we go throughout Training Camp and the regular season."
After signing a five-year contract extension back in January, the tight end is clearly a part of the Eagles' foundation for years to come. He wants to excel in this offense, improve in all the major categories and be one of the top tight ends in the league.
Ertz is more than capable of reaching those goals.
"I think the scheme change this year will help me in (the red zone)," Ertz said. "I had four (touchdowns) last year if two didn't get taken away because of penalties. That's right on par with some of the guys people think are in the upper echelon of the tight end position. But, it is what it is. I think I'm going to have my opportunities this year and I've just got to go out and make the most of them."