The first step for the Eagles and wide receiver Golden Tate, once he reports to the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, is to get him integrated into the offense, to get him up to speed so that he can contribute when the Cowboys come to Lincoln Financial Field in two Sundays. Head coach Doug Pederson has the plan and he’s excited to get things rolling with Tate, acquired prior to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline.
“We’re excited. He’s a good football player,” Pederson said on Tuesday night at a Center City hotel prior to receiving the prestigious Award of Merit at the 16th Annual Jefferson Gala, an event that raised $2.5 million to benefit the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the Neu Center for Supportive Medicine and Cancer Survivorship. “He adds value, he adds depth. He’s a veteran player. Hopefully he comes in and picks the system up right away and we can find ways to use him.”
With the bye week here, the Eagles will get Tate up to speed mentally by giving him a scaled-down version of the playbook. In his ninth NFL season, Tate understands pretty much every offensive design and concept, so it shouldn’t be a problem that way. He’ll have to learn the language of the Eagles’ offense and get on the same page with quarterback Carson Wentz, who reports back to the office on Monday after the bye weekend.
Expect Tate, barring any setbacks, to be an immediate-impact wide receiver for this football team. And that makes Pederson very, very happy.
“He’s dynamic. He’s explosive. His short-area quickness is really impressive. His yards after the catch is impressive. He’s strong with the ball, breaks tackles, and is explosive when he gets out in the open field. He’s an exciting player and he’s going to be a great fit for the locker room,” Pederson said. “I can’t wait to get him in here.”
How will the Eagles use Tate, who is able to play inside and outside and move around the formation? That’s a work in progress and will probably change from one week to the next as the Eagles game plan to maximize the matchups against defensive personnel. Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh desire flexibility, and Tate gives them that.
He also brings incredible production – he’s had 90-plus catches in four straight seasons and had 44 receptions in seven games for Detroit this year – and durability. Tate was named to the Pro Bowl after a 2014 season during which he caught 99 passes for 1,331 yards and four touchdowns for the Lions.
“He can play inside and outside, all over really,” Pederson said. “He’s got that position versatility that you like – he can play the slot, he can play outside. Really, with all of our guys, being able to move them around is beneficial for us.
“It’s a great boost for the offense. Hopefully, Golden will help us increase our production as far as point total. We’re doing some great things as far as pushing the ball down the field, we’ve made improvement there, and this gives us a chance to get a few more of those.”
Tate has to learn the route combinations and the terminology, so it’s not exactly the same as when running back Jay Ajayi joined the Eagles at the trade deadline in 2017 and contributed immediately in a big way. It’s easier to tell a running back that the play call is an inside zone than it is to have a wide receiver get the exact depth needed on routes as they work off of other receivers in the route tree. That just takes time. It’s going to work out well if Tate is everything he’s been when he played in Seattle for four years and then in Detroit since 2014.
The Eagles improved a lot with the addition of Tate, who is going to add to a wide receiver corps that features the big-man skills of Alshon Jeffery, the superb catch-and-run skills of shifty slot man Nelson Agholor, and the sure-handedness and strong body of fourth receiver Jordan Matthews. Bringing in Tate gives the Eagles a tremendous talent boost at wide receiver.
“We can do some of the mental stuff over the course of the next couple of days and then we’ll get him on the field next week,” Pederson said. “It’s exciting. We’re going to see what we can do with him – maybe give him 12 plays or so to start it off – and then go from there. He’s been a highly productive player in his career and he’s going to help our offense, hopefully. I can’t wait to get it going with him.”