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Zach Ertz calls Kliff Kingsbury 'one of the best offensive minds that I've been around'

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Zach Ertz didn't need to rush this offseason. Several teams were interested in signing him, but he wasn't about to jump into a situation just for the sake of it. He wanted to play for a team that suited him best.

Ertz jumped at the opportunity to return to the NFC East when he learned that the Washington Commanders were attempting to court him. There were several reasons why he chose the Burgundy & Gold -- he highlighted the direction of the franchise and what was best for his family – and the prospect of reuniting with offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury was one that intrigued him.

"In my opinion, he's one of the best offensive minds that I've been around," Ertz said.

Ertz didn't spend much time with Kingsbury when he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, but the 21 games he played in Kingsbury's system left a lasting impression on him. It's not necessarily about the concepts -- most NFL offenses are drastically different from one another -- but the way he incorporates his players appealed to Ertz in a way that he had not experienced before.

"He's gonna do everything he can to put his guys in positions to be successful and get them the ball," Ertz said. "He's very adaptive in that regard, that if something not working or something needs to be changed, he's the first to make that change."

Ertz, who joined Kingbury and the Cardinals in October of the 2021 season, experienced a resurgence once he was traded to the NFC West. In his first game with the team -- a Week 7 matchup against the Houston Texans -- he had a then-season high 66 yards and a touchdown. Four weeks later, he made eight catches on nine targets for 88 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Cardinals secure a 23-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Ertz ended the season with 763 yards, including 574 yards in 11 games with the Cardinals.

"Great person, great player," Kingsbury said in 2021 following the trade. I think he'll fit right in with this locker room. Thought (GM) Steve (Keim) did a tremendous job of getting that done."

Kingsbury's offensive reputation is well-known in football, both in college and the NFL. In the three seasons he was the Cardinals' head coach, the team had two top 10 finishes in average yards per game. The hope is that he can replicate some of that success in Washington, which ended the 2023 season in the bottom 10 in yards (312.8) and points (19.4).

It makes sense why Kingsbury would look for a tight end that he can trust as he tries to rejuvenate the Commanders' offense. Tight ends were one of the most used positions in the passing game during his time in Arizona with at least one cracking the top five in yards and targets each season. Despite joining the team midway through the season, Ertz still ranked third in yards, second in receptions and third in targets in 2021. In 2022, Ertz was fifth in yards, third in targets and fourth in receptions.

Take a look at Zach Ertz's first day as a Commander after signing with the Burgundy & Gold.

The 2024 season will be Ertz's 13th, and he will have to learn another offensive system. Kingsbury said during his press conference that he wouldn't classify what Washington will run as an Air Raid system, although that is what he been tied to the most in his career, but no matter it's called, Ertz knows he's going to put players in position to succeed.

"It's just how...he calls plays during the game," Ertz said. "How he gets new ideas. He's at the cutting edge of a lot of different things."

Finding out ways to elevate players, Ertz said during his press conference, is the job of any good coach. In Ertz's opinion, no one does that better than Kingsbury.

"He wants to put his guys in positions to make a lot of plays, whether it be running the ball or throwing the ball and catching the ball," Ertz said. "He's gonna do everything he can to put his guys in positions to be successful."

Ertz, 33, knows what he can offer to a team. He believes he's responsible for making a quarterback's job as easy as possible, and no matter who the Commanders decide to put under center, he's excited to have that opportunity again. He knows he isn't a finished player, but he's proven himself to be a reliable target over the years.

Now that he's back with Kingsbury, he's ready to show that once again and help the Commanders build success "from the ground up."

"I can't wait to see, see what he does," Ertz said.

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