Zach Ertz quickly immersing himself in all things Arizona Cardinals

Oct 20, 2021, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:10 pm
Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz warms up ahead of practice Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyle...
Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz warms up ahead of practice Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz didn’t have to travel to Cleveland just days after being traded to Arizona from Philadelphia last week.

With the logistics of the move, the magnitude of joining a new team along with just having played on Thursday night, missing Sunday’s win over the Browns would have been warranted for the tight end.

That’s not how Ertz operates, however. Sure, he was exhausted, flying to Arizona a day after playing on Thursday Night Football before turning around and jumping on the team plane for Cleveland will do that to a player.

But with how little time he has to onboard with Arizona before Week 7’s matchup with the Houston Texans rolls around, every second with the team counts.

It speaks volumes to the type of player the Cardinals brought in.

On the same Friday the trade for Ertz was announced, the tight end was already on his way to take a physical at the team facility. A day later, he was off to Cleveland on board the team’s plane, with quarterback Kyler Murray seated right next to him.

Coincidence? Unlikely. Either way, there’s no better method in getting to know the offense better than chatting it up with the guy who holds the keys to Arizona’s offensive attack.

“Him coming out to Cleveland when he didn’t have to is big time,” quarterback Kyler Murray said Wednesday. “Sat next to him on the plane talking offense, talking life, even today getting extra reps with him.

“I’m excited to have him, I know the team is. I think it’ll be good for the locker room. I’m excited about what he can bring to the team.”

Depending on how fast he gets up to speed, Ertz can provide an instant impact in the passing game.

Before the past two seasons of being under utilized, Ertz put together three consecutive seasons of at least 70 catches, 820 yards and six touchdowns from 2017-19. His best came in 2018 when the tight end nabbed 116 receptions (156 targets) for 1,163 yards and eight scores.

The Cardinals offense certainly doesn’t operate on a tight-end first basis, but it started to look that way more often with Maxx Williams in the fold despite his role of being more of a blocker than pass catcher in years past.

Ertz may be known more for his playmaking ability, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any chops in the blocking department.

“Obviously a guy like that, who’s a serious threat in the pass game first, he allows you to make defenses honest,” defensive coordinator and acting head coach Vance Joseph said Wednesday. “If teams are gonna run shell and roll to [DeAndre Hopkins], that puts him 1-on-1 with backers. And obviously, it’s first and second down so with the play-action pass game, he can kill teams down the middle, and he’s also a really good blocker.

“Most tight ends block on the move now. He’s a long, good athlete. So, he’s good at blocking and obviously catching the football, but he’s just one more weapon that Kyler has at his disposal, and it makes it tough to account for everyone.”

And while the offense might take some getting used to, luckily for Ertz, he has more than a few familiar faces to help him further integrate himself into the team’s culture.

He might not have known him personally before joining the team, but Ertz already shares something significant with defensive lineman J.J. Watt given their wives, Julie Ertz and Kealia Watt, play for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Offensive lineman Justin Pugh and his fiancée have opened their home to the tight end, while linebacker Jordan Hicks has provided Ertz with a small piece of Philadelphia from their four years together there.

The linebacker’s recruiting game isn’t too bad, either. Persistency pays off.

“Obviously Hicksy and I were kinda in similar situations this offseason just with everything going on, it kinda mirrored, which is ironic because we were roommates in Philly on the road, I was in his wedding,” Ertz said of Hicks.

“Once he knew he was gonna be here and there was a possibility that I can get out of Philly or was gonna get out of Philly, it was a full-court press. He would call me every day like, ‘Bro, is it gonna get done?'”


– Ertz on trading out Philadelphia green for Arizona red:

“It’s a little different for sure, I wore red in college so I guess the transition wasn’t as drastic. Being at Stanford, we were the Cardinal. That isn’t too far from the Cardinals. I’m excited to be here. I mean what an opportunity it is to be on this football team.”


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