Kelly's offense is starting to take shape. With the signing of the versatile James Casey (6'3") in free agency and the selection of Ertz (6'5") with the 35th overall pick, it's evident the Eagles are planning on making tight end a more prominent position.
Kelly believes 2nd-round draft pick Zach Ertz is a "mismatch nightmare," and he should know. Ertz had 11 catches for 106 yards and the game-tying touchdown in the final minutes for Stanford as they handed Kelly and Oregon their only loss last season. It derailed a potential national championship season.
“He did everything," Kelly said. "They used him in a multiple variety. That’s the thing about him—they used
him as a single receiver on the trip set and he was by himself isolated by the [defensive back]. They used him as a tight end, they used him as an H-back, they used him as a move guy. They moved him all over the place."
Ertz is likely to be utilized similarly with the Eagles, Casey too after having been cast as a tight end, fullback and H-back in Houston. And they're going to be on the field together with Brent Celek (6'4").
The 49ers and Jim Harbaugh — Ertz's former coach at Stanford — used three-tight-end sets with regularity last season. They sometimes even had five linemen on one side of the center. Kelly's offense may feature these type of intricacies with so many capable and versatile tight ends on his roster.
It's nothing new to Ertz. The Cardinal used three tight ends in a no-huddle offense often. Ertz earned All-American honors after finishing with 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns.
The thought of combining his athleticism and size with Kelly and the Eagles' existing ends is exciting. For both the coach and player.
"I think Coach Kelly is a hell of an offensive mind," Ertz said. "He does so much from a scheme standpoint it's kind of ridiculous some of the stuff he's been able to do. I'm just looking forward to how he's going to use me."
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It's a privilege to introduce sportswriter Rob Edwards of the South Jersey Times to the Bored... Edwards just did a nice review of Randall Cunningham's new book "Lay It Down: How Letting Go Brings Out Your Best"....
"I think most sports fans have that moment when they realize they’re going to be a fan of one team the rest of their lives.
"Mine came when I first was old enough to see Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham in action.
"Those same fans probably also have that moment in which they’ve outgrown the childhood hero-worship they’ve bestowed upon a particular athlete.
"I had that moment with Cunningham as well.
"Attending my first Eagles training camp with my father in 1995 — the last one at West Chester University — nine-year-old me couldn’t wait to procure Cunningham’s autograph. I had already gotten a litany of autographs, including first-year head coach Ray Rhodes, and was eagerly anticipating Cunningham’s walk to the practice field.
"He was one of the last players out of the locker room, accompanied by another first-year Eagle, running back Ricky Watters.
'“After practice,” said Randall Cunningham.
"That’s all I got out of Cunningham that day. Not until 18 years later would I have the chance to speak to No. 12, ‘The Ultimate Weapon’, again.
"After what Cunningham has been through in recent times, my tale of heartbreak in ‘95 sounds selfish. The former star athlete has clearly changed, evident in just the sound of his voice through the phone. He returned to Las Vegas — where he attended college at UNLV — after his NFL career was over and has become an ordained minister, preaching to thousands of churchgoers on the weekend.
"Rather than turning people away for autographs, he now welcomes them with arms wide open.
'“Well, I’ve had some great times and they far outweigh the bad times,” he said during a phone conversation earlier this month. “I’m out preaching in the church, believe it or not. We’re doing very well, there’s about 1,100-1,200 people in our congregation.'
'“We’re looking to be father-figures (to at-need children) and we look after them and make sure they’re living their lives well. It’s really a blessing, we try to be very influential with the kids. We’re coaching kids one-on-one, kind of like what Reggie did with me.”'
"That Reggie, of course, is the late Reggie White.
"White, a teammate of Cunningham’s in Philadelphia, was known not just for his dominance on the football field, but for his off the field life as an ordained minister — hence his nickname, ‘The Minister of Defense’.
It was White’s influence that helped Cunningham choose his path after football, and is one of the subject’s in Cunningham’s new book, ‘Lay It Down’.
“I talk about him in the book,” he said. “Reggie was very impactful in my life. He was a giant. He got in my face one day, and he asked if I was a Christian. He said then I better live right if I’m going to call myself one.
“He held me accountable and I submitted to him. I thank God for putting Reggie in my life. He was a turning point for me, helping me to submit to the people that had my best interests in hand.”
White wasn’t the only turning point in Cunningham’s life. The tragic death of his two-year-old son from an accidental drowning in 2010 changed his outlook considerably.
“I wanted to write about it,” he said. “It’s not just about tragedy, it’s about life. If you’ve been divorced, if you’ve been a millionaire, if you’ve been broke, mourning a death, a single parent, have to take care of your parents — read the book. It’s a book that helps keep you together.
“I tell people, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You have to put a smile on your face today, because tomorrow is not promised, but it could be a good tomorrow. This book is a roller coaster ride to help heal people.
“It’s for everyone. Don’t put it off. Even if you know someone going through something, tell them to go get it.”
Cunningham spoke openly about his life and didn’t shy away from questions about his playing days in the NFL or the players — like Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick — who are emulating his style now.
“I was blessed to be able to do things on a football field,” Cunningham said. “I wasn’t just scrambling back then, I was running. Plays weren’t designed for me. The ones they tried to design for me didn’t work. I worked on instincts. If it was third-and-long and no one was open, I’d take off. My teammates knew it.
“Now, when you see (49ers QB Colin) Kaepernick and RGIII, those plays are designed. Colleges are looking for that type of player now. My son, Randall II, is 6-foot-6 and has already been offered scholarships from UCLA, Baylor, LSU and Syracuse.”
"I had too many questions for Cunningham about his time as a member of the Eagles. Instead I decided on asking him about a season with another team — the Minnesota Vikings.
"He had snubbed me as a nine-year-old, but I still was a fan of his, including during his tenor as a Viking after he left Philadelphia. I remember sitting in my grandparent’s living room watching him lead Minnesota to within a field goal of the Super Bowl during the 1998-99 season. He had completed — at least until that point — one of the greatest seasons by a QB in the NFL with a 13-1 record as a starter and 34 TDs to just 10 interceptions.
"Cunningham’s performance was complimented by that of another former Eagle, kicker Gary Anderson, who had just completed a regular season in which he didn’t miss a field goal.
With just over two minutes left in an NFC Championship game with the Atlanta Falcons, Anderson missed his first field goal of the year, a 38-yarder that would’ve sent Cunningham to his first and only Super Bowl appearance. The Vikings lost, and John Elway defeated the Falcons two weeks later, winning his second Super Bowl as the QB of the Denver Broncos.
"There’s a lot of sports related memories that run through my mind. For some reason, the two with Cunningham are as clear as if they happened yesterday. I didn’t ask him about why I didn’t get an autograph that day 18 years ago, but I couldn’t stop myself from bringing up what had to be one of the low-lights of a storied career.
“We really believed it was our destiny that year,” Cunningham said of the loss to the Falcons. “We had full confidence in Gary. The guy missed one field goal the time we needed it.
“It was a tough time for him, tough for him to go through that.”
"Make that three Cunningham memories that I’ll never forget."--- Rob Edwards can be reached at 856-845-9478 or at email@example.com
Check out other great articles at Eagles Eye.