A day after Mike Groh made his ridiculous statement about struggling to get Golden Tate involved, Doug Pederson was left to pick up the pieces and cover for his beleaguered offensive coordinator.
On Tuesday, Groh was asked about working the newly acquired Tate into the offense, and his unfortunate response was, “It’s been challenging to integrate him.”
A coach — especially one whose unit has underachieved as much as Groh’s — should never admit that he’s struggling to do his job. It’s just a bad look.
Pederson tried to take Groh off the hook Wednesday when asked about Groh’s comment:
Any time you bring a player in that adds value and adds talent to your roster, I don’t care what position it is, there’s going to be a learning curve. In Golden’s case, this guy's played a lot of football and he’s a sharp guy and he understands the scheme of a route or the actual route design, but how we call the play or how we call that route is where for his learning curve is and where he needs to learn that and obviously get caught up. He’s spent countless hours with Gunter (Brewer, wide receivers coach), with Mike, asking questions of myself in these last three weeks or so to try to get himself caught up.
Tate played 18 of 62 snaps against the Cowboys and 36 of 48 snaps Sunday against the Saints. He had 2 for 19 against Dallas and a team-high 5 for 48 in New Orleans.
For the sake of comparison, Amari Cooper was 5 for 58 with a touchdown in his first game with the Cowboys, then 6 for 75 against the Eagles and 3 for 36 vs. the Falcons on Sunday.
The Cowboys are 2-1 with Cooper, but the Eagles haven’t won a game since acquiring Tate, and his presence Sunday seemed to hurt Nelson Agholor, who was targetted 68 times in the Eagles’ first nine games but only twice against the Saints and was without a catch.
Pederson said Tate’s limited production, at least Sunday, was more due to the Eagles’ overall offense malaise than any issue “integrating” Tate into the offense.
The Eagles ran only 48 plays in their 48-7 loss to the Saints, their fewest since they ran 45 in a game against the Seahawks in 2014.
“We didn’t have enough touches in the game Sunday,” Pederson said. “There weren’t enough snaps. We didn’t stay on the field enough. We didn’t convert third downs.
“We have to do collectively a better job of making more plays obviously and … until we can do that and spread the ball out a little bit you can point the finger all you want.”
Tate is one of only seven players in NFL history with 90 or more catches in four straight seasons. He’s 51 for 584 this year, including seven games with the Lions.
Carson Wentz said Wednesday he thinks incorporating Tate into the offense has gone smoothly.
We feel comfortable with Golden. Nothing was clicking (Sunday). I feel really confident in getting Golden in there and how we’re using him and using him moving forward. I don’t think it’s necessarily been a challenge. We’re always trying to find ways to spread the ball around. We have a lot of playmakers and we have to use them well. Excited how we’re going to keep using him and all our weapons from Nelson to J. Matt (Jordan Matthews) to Alshon (Jeffery) to (Zach) Ertz.
The Eagles are 4-6 and two games behind a division leader that lost its quarterback that they still play twice.
There are six games left. The Eagles need to start winning games, and the offense needs to be dramatically better.
If they’re going to dig their way out of this, the Eagles have to find some answers about Tate, Agholor and offensive balance very, very soon.
And it would probably be a good idea if Groh chooses his words more carefully.
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