86: The Blog

To Be the Best

I want to welcome everyone to my new web site and blog. From here forward, every few weeks, I’ll be telling my story here, letting you know what’s going on with me and the Philadelphia Eagles, and what I’m doing off the field, too. My goal is to give you insights you won’t find anywhere else, and to allow us to connect in a meaningful way.

After an offseason of pretty big changes, I’m suddenly one of the veterans of the group who came in with Coach Kelly. I’m expecting a lot from our team and from myself.

ON THE FIELD

When the 2014-15 season ended, I set a goal for myself: to be on the field next year each and every play, and help lead our offense. To do that, I had to continue to improve my blocking.

I’ve been lucky enough to watch Brent Celek block over the past two years. He’s got great technique, and he’s been successful at it for a long time. I’ve learned a lot from him, and wanted to keep building on that foundation. I reached out Hudson Houck, a former offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Hudson is basically the guru of blocking, so I headed down to San Diego a couple months back to train with him.

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Training with Darren Sproles got me into the best shape of my life.

We worked on everything from coordinating where my hand placement should go to how to use my hips in blocking. We focused on being the perfect blocker. Obviously, I’m not perfect yet, but that’s something I’m going to strive to be. With everything I’ve learned, I’m expecting to have that much more impact on the field every play, whether I’m blocking or making catches.

One of the other benefits of training in San Diego was that I got to workout with Darren Sproles. First and foremost, Darren is a great guy. We had joked about working out together during the season, and I kind of wanted to try something a little different. It was a lot of fun for me, going out there and seeing Darren in his element. (He lives and trains in San Diego during the offseason.) Darren’s the Energizer Bunny out there. He never gets tired. He’s really strong. He works so hard. He is always constantly running and training a hundred miles an hour. He allowed me to push myself to be in the best shape I’ve probably ever been in.

NEXT-LEVEL ADVICE

One of the other things I did when I was in Southern California was meet Tony Gonzalez. I got his number from one of our tight end coaches — he played with Tony when they were in Atlanta together — and I just cold texted him. It was a no-lose situation for me. If he said “no,” then I would have respectfully understood.

He said yes. So I drove to see him.

The funny thing was that I wasn’t nervous about meeting him at all. He was such a genuine person on the text message that it made it seem like it was something that he would love to do. He actually was fired up about it. It wasn’t like going to meet an idol, which he truly is of mine. It was just going to meet a friend.

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I cold called Tony Gonzalez and asked if we could meet. He responded like we were friends.

We talked about a lot of things. When it came to football, we talked about the steps I needed to take to go from being good to great. We talked about little things — the nuances of how to run a certain route, what’s advantageous against certain coverages, that sort of thing. He also talked about the importance of having a routine. He had a routine of greatness that he would do every day. He felt it gave him the edge over the competition in the long run.

He also really focused on the mental side of the game. We put so much into our bodies physically and emotionally, he explained, that we kind of ignore training the brain, and learning new ways to train the brain. That’s kind of what we talked about. He reads a lot of books about mental training and successful CEOs to understand what makes them successful. That’s some of the knowledge that he imparted on me.

THE NEWEST EAGLES

We’ve been back training in Philadelphia now for several weeks, which has given me a chance to meet most of my new teammates.

DeMarco Murray and I met for the first time at the facility right after things started back up. It wasn’t a big introduction — just something as simple as, “Hey, I’m DeMarco. Nice to meet you. Looking forward to it.” But ever since, we’ve kind of just clicked. We do a lot of things together when we’re at the facility: eating, lifting together, whatever it might be. He’s a great, great guy — a great teammate who’s going to bring the best out of those around him. He’s also an amazing football player, and that’s going to be really good for our team. He’s a one-cut, physical running back, and I’m really excited to be able to play with him.

He’s also one of the hardest working guys that I’ve ever been around. He has a tremendous work ethic, the kind of guy who holds everyone else to a higher standard than they might reach on their own. He also has — I don’t know how to describe it, exactly — basically, a personality that you don’t really want to mess with. He’s the kind of guy you always want to keep in your side of the ring, and he’s going to help our team a lot.

DeMarco is a great guy and a great teammate. He’s going to bring the best out in all of us.

Finally, he’s also a true competitor. That’s something that I consider myself as well. I love to compete in everything that I do. So DeMarco and I are constantly competing with one another. I mean, every time we lift, we see who can do more weight or more reps. Every time we’re out there on the on the field running, we see who can run a faster time. So it’s just constant competition between the two of us.

Sam Bradford also joined us this offseason, and he’s been practicing with us for the past few weeks. He and our former quarterback, Nick Foles, are pretty similar kinds of players. They both want to win at all costs. I don’t think I’ve played with a quarterback with a stronger arm than Sam. It’s so effortless every time he throws it. Sam’s kind of a reserved guy, but I think you can tell that he’s going to hold guys to a higher standard as well. If you’re not in the place he wants you to be, he’s going to let you know that you need to get there, and be there when you’re supposed to be there. I think he’s going to hold guys accountable in that regard. If he can lead us, I think could be a really fun year.

On the defensive side of the ball, Byron Maxwell is going to help us a lot. He’s a guy that can come in and lock down a number one receiver. That’s kind of what you need in the NFL right now — someone who you can trust each and every play to go against a team’s top playmaker. That signing is going to help us a lot in our division in the NFC, with all the great receivers that we have to play each and every week.

I love how everyone on the team is loving the training process right now. We don’t want to be great just on Sundays. Everyone wants to be great each every single day. I think that’s something that is going to take us over the next step. Because if you want to get better, that’s the mentality you have to have. And we want to be the best.

By | 2017-06-05T22:32:35+00:00 06.15.15|Blog, News|55 Comments

55 Comments

  1. Ryan June 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Good read. I find it really interesting to hear about the players lives and what’s it’s like to be in NFL. Glad to hear about Hudson Houck, even if he did coach for the Cowboys . Your were great as a pass catcher last year and learning from him should increase your overall game and make you even better.
    Go Birds!

  2. Kevin June 15, 2015 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Great idea Zach. Thanks for sharing and best of luck this year. Let’s go Eagles.

  3. James June 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Great blog Zach, big fan from Australia here. I really like the idea of connecting to the fans through these posts. Keep up the great work, looking forward to a great season from you.

  4. Brian Dickerson June 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Your the man Zach! My son and I are eagles fans and we love you! going to get your jersey soon!

  5. Anthony Durman June 15, 2015 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Big fan bro, looking forward to big things with you and Bradford!

  6. Marilyn Weeden June 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    I’m really looking forward to reading your blog. GO EAGLES!!!!!

  7. Ryan June 15, 2015 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    Amazing article and insight by an Eagle. Makes me proud knowing that our tight end of the future is such a great, intelligent guy.

  8. Karen June 15, 2015 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Psyched for the season to start !

  9. Chad Boggs June 15, 2015 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    Zach,

    I just wanted to stop by and tell you how great it is that you’re doing this website. It’s awesome to get inside the head of a true professional athlete. You are an inspiration to be the best I can be. I love and miss cheering you and my birds on Sunday’s. Hope to hear back from you. Thanks for the great read and as always, Fly Eagles Fly!

    -Chad Boggs

  10. Mark June 15, 2015 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    It was great to read your blog and see the kind of mindset you have. I’m glad you’re working on your blocking and me and my fantasy team both hope you see more time this season. As a fan I’m really excited for the things that happened in the off season. I really agree with what chip is doing with the culture. I’m in the army here in Hawaii and we try to foster a certain kind of culture as well. Get a group of guys that come in every day and want to push their bodies and work for the platoon and you’re going to have a good unit. I think yall have something special going on there and I can’t wait to see you guys stomp Dallas haha

  11. Allison Coia June 16, 2015 at 12:00 am - Reply

    Great read. To be the best you have to train and eat like the best. Gonzalez was the best and he took care of his body and mind!

    #FlyEaglesFly

  12. Dave June 16, 2015 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Awesome post! Been a huge fan ever since the birds drafted you and I’ve always thought you’d turn out to be a great player. Keep the posts coming, I’m looking forward to reading them.

    Cheers buddy!

  13. Nick June 16, 2015 at 2:00 am - Reply

    Very cool insight. If all posts are like this you will have a pretty strong following.

  14. Shaun Hunter June 16, 2015 at 2:17 am - Reply

    You are part of the reason I love the Eagles. And I am so glad you think Murray will be a great teammate also because your word and loyalty is apparent so I believe you when you say what you say about teammates. I am a huge fan of yours and would love you to continue to be with the Eagles for yor whole career. I can’t wait to follow your blog and read the ins and outs of the Eagles.

  15. Shaun Hunter June 16, 2015 at 2:19 am - Reply

    Was I your first post ever to your blog Zach. That’s exciting. I am an Eagles fan from RI, it’s not easy in Patriot country. Yuck I hate those cheater.
    Shaun Hunter

  16. robby d June 16, 2015 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Hey Zach – welcome to the interwebz! As you can imagine, we* are most excited for your insight into the Eagles all year long. Glad to hear you had a great off-season, and looking forward to you doing big things this year.
    Sincerely,
    your biggest fan in diaspora (Baltimore),
    Rob

    *everybody

  17. Chris Ryce June 16, 2015 at 3:18 am - Reply

    Awesome blog dude! Good stuff, I’ll be coming back for sure!

  18. Kevin Wiernik June 16, 2015 at 3:30 am - Reply

    From Wisconsin… Eagles fan for life. Was at the game at Lambeau last year. Tough one for me. Where can I get a few t- shirts for myself and my boys that you posted. ” “Habits reflect the mission”

  19. Tony Wright Jr June 16, 2015 at 4:40 am - Reply

    I love this. I feel like I’m right there with you guy.

  20. Denise Guerrero June 16, 2015 at 5:16 am - Reply

    Loved the blog!!! And I am really looking forward to future reads. I am so excited for next season.

  21. Theresa Dowdy June 16, 2015 at 11:30 am - Reply

    I am very excited for the upcoming season, and Zach. ..I knew when you came into the league, you’re going to be one of the greats. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders, as long as you don’t let ego take over, you will continue to grow. Thank you for keeping us fans in the loop. Looking forward to attending the practices at the Linc, and a kick ass season! Go Birds!

  22. Jon June 16, 2015 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    A great read, down to earth with an inside view of Eagles football! Excited for the up coming year and years to come of reading more. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Karen June 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed your blog, it was insightful and just a fun read. Looking forward to more posts. Have a great season.

  24. jennifer June 16, 2015 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    So excited for this season!! Going to be in Charlotte to see my Eagles fly!!

  25. Jay June 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Been a fan of yours since your arrival. Hoping you’ll be an integral part of the offense this season. You have what it takes.

  26. Joan Wargo June 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    My husband and I run a fall football team for students with disabilities. We have local high school football players come and act as their one on one buddies through football drills and a 30 minutes game every Sunday for 10 weeks in the fall. We would love to have an Eagles player come see our program in action. It is so heart warming to see these big high school football players volunteer on their only day off to teach a sport they love to kids who never thought they could play football. If you could give me a contact name and phone number I would greatly appreciate it as I have gone onto the Eagles website and never got any response! Thanks and good luck this season!

  27. Yvonne AKA @ImanEaglesfan June 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Good afternoon, I know I will enjoy your blog. I think it is a GREAT idea for athletes to blog the things they are involved in, both on and of the field.

    I am a sports writer, and would really be interested in writing on your blog. Do you think that’s possible? I could send you writing samples, if you like. I can be reached at the email listed above.

    Congrats on your success with the Eagles! I want nothing but success for the entire team, including us fans!

    Fly Eagles Fly!

  28. Eric tonjes June 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the blog!! Great to read about everything going on with yoy and this amazing team! Can’t wait to see the improvements this season!! FLY EAGLES FLY!

  29. AB June 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Zach, thanks for this blog. It’s great to have some behind-the-scenes insight into my favourite (and only) team. Looking forward to ready more from you. I’m very excited about this new season (and nervous given all the changes), but all the rhetoric coming out of camp has been so positive that I feel like you guys have a lot of confidence. Stay healthy.

  30. John C June 16, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Great site Zach! Looking forward to reading more. Glad you’re an Eagle. Oh yeah, and the Cowboys Suck LOL!

  31. Dan June 16, 2015 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Hey Zach like the blog but I have one thing you got a few other people who joined the team like Mathews,kiko Alonzo

  32. Justin June 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for starting this blog Zach. I’ve been a huge fan of yours since college and a die-hard Eagles fan. I love the players the team has right now and what seems like great chemistry you guys are building. What’s the biggest difference you see between this years team and last years guys? Thanks! -Justin

  33. Big___Al June 16, 2015 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Good stuff, Zach, thanks. Very interesting, and keep ’em coming!

  34. Mark June 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Zach, it is great to be able to hear from players, such as yourself, on topics like this. It is refreshing, honestly. I have bled green my entire life and I will continue to until the day I die. This city is tough, but will admire the players that give their blood, sweat and tears for Philly, and I hope you can be a lifer on the Birds. #FlyEaglesFly

    Just a few quick copy errors that I caught, not a big deal, but I figured I would let you know…

    I think you meant to add the word to into this sentence: “I reached out [to] Hudson Houck…”
    In this line you said “on the” twice: “Every time we’re out there on the on the field running…”

    Keep it up man, I will be following your blog! The whole nation will be cheering on Julie tonight as she takes on Nigeria, hope you are proud of her!

  35. Matt McIver June 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    This is awesome. Thanks for doing this. People can say what they want, but I love the attitude of this team right now, and as a lifelong, year-round, die hard Eagles fan, I really appreciate a player, especially one of your caliber, letting us in to things we would have no other way of being part of. This is the kind of thing that makes fans feel connected to the team on another level. It is much appreciated, I can assure you.

  36. vick June 16, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Great insight and perspective. We don’t normally get to see this side of the game we love. This blog is an example of the type of person we need in Philly. Intelligent. Accountable. Determined. Keep it up, and if you ever need editing help or a quick read-over, holla.

  37. Patricia McClure June 16, 2015 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Loved reading about you and the Eagles, Zach. I am an aunt of 4 nephews who played high school football and college football. I taped all of their games and did highlight tapes so I have learned a lot about football. I wish you and the Eagles the best of luck.

  38. Jack Brown June 17, 2015 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Great guy with a great site, love watching you play man

  39. Luke June 17, 2015 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Great blog! I really appreciate that you open up to your fans and let them in on how you feel about things and let’s us know about the things going on at the facility. I think this is going to be your best year yet. With that being said, you HAVE to let me know where to get the “habits reflect the mission” shirt. I absolutely have to have that. Ever since I saw that in the tunnel at the linc it stuck with me. I’m working towards my own goals and that quote just resonates with me. Thanks a lot man! Keep grinding and inspiring people.

  40. Jacob B. June 17, 2015 at 4:10 am - Reply

    Great post. Really great insight into whats going on and I really enjoyed the sections about the new players. The info about DeMarco really helps ease the loss of a player like LeSean McCoy. Its great to hear that you guys are putting in such a great effort this early. Keep it up. I look forward to more posts and to watching you twice this year. Once in my hometown of Charlotte, NC and once for my first ever game in Philadelphia against the NY Giants. #FlyEaglesFly

  41. gijane June 17, 2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I love watching you and the Eagles play! Have a great season! #FlyEaglesFly

  42. Stephen June 17, 2015 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    This is fun to read Zach, Glad you opened this up.

  43. Joe Brier June 17, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    ZE – Getting such a personal glimpse into your craft is an amazing thing for a sports fan. Please keep up this blog regularly! I’m crossing my fingers that we can read about your experiences and then watch you excel further on the field.

    You jumped out on tape in almost every game where you were properly utilized, and it’s unquestionable that you have a rare skill-set at the tight end position.

    I’m rooting for you to do great things and allowing us fans to see your hard work paying off in big ways!

    -Joe

  44. Jim Rutter June 17, 2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Good stuff, 86! Big fan and love watching you play on Sundays! Can’t wait to see how the Eagles offense continues to evolve, but dude, have to admit I’m a little more focused right at the moment on the Women’s World Cup and the USWNT! Ha! Hope you keep reminding Coach Kelly about your ability to bring down the ball in the back of the endzone – Oh wait, he may well be aware of that elite Ertz-ian skill from his Duck Dynasty Days in Eugene and that amazing game at Autzen in ’12!

  45. Paul June 17, 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Caught a small part of your blog on another web site. Came here to read it. I remember Tony Gonzalez from his days in K.C. A stand up player and man. I’m impressed you took it upon yourself to reach out to him. Good luck and if you’ve learned anything from Tony, you’ll hit the mark you seek.

  46. Michael Mount June 18, 2015 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Can’t wait for you guys to get out on the field and play some ball! Going to be a great year for us and I’m excited to see what you guys can do with all the talent on the team. GO EAGLES!

  47. Laurie June 18, 2015 at 12:40 am - Reply

    I enjoyed reading your blog, Zach. I know you’re going to have a HUGE upcoming season and will be leading “our” team to the playoffs (& hopefully a SB ;-). Keep thriving to be the best – both physically & mentally!! I’m looking forward to the upcoming season & am glad I came across your blog. Good luck & please stay healthy!

  48. Qwik June 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    OK Zach, I was an LA Rams fan back in the day. I kinda gave up on football after Frontiere took them to St. Louis. I caught some news posts for the Eagles and started following what was going on. I think you guys have the right idea. Holding each other accountable but also building each other up. I just got an Eagles t-shirt for my birthday and I think I will watch football again for the first time in years. I watched a bunch of interviews for the OTA’s and to the man you all come across as humble and sincerely glad just for the opportunity to play the game. Good luck.

    Qwik

  49. Denise Gable June 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Zach, what a great job on the blog – I love it! Look forward to more posts. I am a 60 year old female fan born in Philly but living in Virginia who has been an Eagles fan since birth. Like all of us who bleed green, ALL we care about is winning a Super Bowl. Anything less is failure. Best of luck to you this season – stay healthy and see you at the Linc! #FlyEaglesFly

  50. Brian Smith June 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    This is awesome! Keep posting and keep striving to be great. Eagles fans loves hard workers and will embrace the work you put in every day to get better, especially if it translates to the field!

  51. Alex Rodriguez June 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Great blog. I hope to see you have a pro bowl year. I know you have what it takes to be the best te in the league. I’m going to get my erts jersey before the season starts. Keep up the good work and help the eagles win our first super bowl. I’m so tired of these damn giants and cowboy fans talking about we don’t have any rings lmao.

  52. Yahaya June 18, 2015 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Zaaaaaachy, great job with the blog! But love your play and effort even more…hope you are on the field for every play. Have a good season!!!!

  53. Karen June 18, 2015 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Absolutely loved this Blog. I can’t wait to come back every few weeks and see what you have to say. Looking forward to watching you play this season and seeing all of your hard work pay off. You are truly a role model to the young kids out there, your continued commitment to improve your skill is to be commended. Just read a article where Darren Sproles stated you are going to be a Superstar. Could not agree more #86.. Keep it up. Hope to make it to the Linc this year to see you in action.

  54. Greg June 19, 2015 at 2:37 am - Reply

    Thanks for the read, Zach. I’ll definitely be checking for your updates. I’d love to hear about your MMA training this offseason! Do you incorporate any CrossFit programming in your training?

  55. Mike Hoffman June 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Great blog Zach. I’m a huge fan and look forward to the upcoming season. My family, who I watch th the game with on Sundays, are always breaking my stones saying I have a man crush on you. Call it what you will I just believe you’ll be a top TE for the next 10 years. Go Birds!

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