If you were told to memorize an entirely new textbook for a test coming up in less than a week, how would you fare? My guess is not too well. That’s what Golden Tate had to deal with in Week 10 against the Cowboys. Being traded to the Eagles on a short week, Tate had less than a week to learn the playbook, and subsequently could not get significant playing time or develop a real rhythm with star quarterback, Carson Wentz.
When asked if it was hard to adjust, Tate responded “Absolutely…Especially when you don’t have April, May, June, and training camp.’’
Fast forward four weeks and the Eagles will need Tate to step up more than ever and produce in a game which could possibly decide which team the NFC East will send to the playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles will travel to Jerryworld to take on the red-hot Dallas Cowboys, fresh off a self-proclaimed “Super Bowl” like a win over the New Orleans Saints. With games coming up against the Texans and the Rams, this game is a must-win for Philadelphia to keep their playoff hopes alive. Luckily, Golden Tate is finally coming into his own as a wide receiver for the Eagles.
In the Monday night game against the Redskins, Tate caught all 7 of his targets for 85 yards and a touchdown. For the first time as an Eagle Tate looked comfortable and confident, and his production showed for it. Tate had two first down catches against the ‘Skins, which allowed the offense to stay on the field, an aspect of the game that has been a struggle all year.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Groh thinks that the work in practice is finally paying off on the field for Golden Tate: “I think every day that passes that he’s here, I think everybody gets more comfortable. I think that’s only natural. He’s done a really good job since he’s been here. He’s a very good football player. He makes us better. We’re excited to have him here and what he can do here this next month.”
Doug Pederson was happy to praise Tate as well after the Redskins game stating “Golden, he’s kind of found a rhythm. He’s kind of understanding the offense a little bit more. I think tonight it was really good to see because the ball got spread around a little bit in the passing game, and he had a nice night tonight.”
Against the Cowboys, the Eagles will need more from Tate to get the win on the road. Tate excels as a chain-moving playmaker who can get gritty yards after the catch. With the ball in his hands on short passes, Tate becomes a YAC monster. With Byron Jones expected to shadow Alshon Jeffrey, Tate will likely face Chidobie Awuzie or Xavier Woods. In his first matchup against the Cowboys this season, Tate caught 8 balls for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a Lions jersey. With the emergence of a steady run game, the Eagles can look to Tate on run-pass option plays or wide receiver screens to get him in space.
With the Dallas Cowboys defense playing as well as they are, it is essential for every part of the Eagles offense to be clicking Sunday evening. If Tate is able to get the ball in space, not even athletic linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch will be able to slow him down. Getting Tate into a rhythm early in the game is key, and the Eagles will look to do just that this weekend. Get the football in Golden’s hands, and let him run with it. If Philadelphia follows that game plan, the NFC East Crown is not out of reach.
Another week in practice will only do good things for the Eagles offense. Every single extra rep that Tate gets with Wentz will only help him adjust to the scheme and fit in. Earning the trust of his quarterback has led to good things for Tate so far.
“Golden is a great player,” Wentz said. “We feel we have a lot of guys that we can spread the ball around to. We never truly try to focus in on one guy. We just try and go after maybe the weak link in their defense or just let the play come to you.
With an exceptionally successful track record against the Cowboys, it might be time for the Eagles to key in on Tate, and allow him to take over.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports