It’s only three games. It’s not enough time to draw any definite conclusions. It’s not enough time to call the trade a success or failure. It’s too soon to decide whether the Eagles should try to keep Golden Tate beyond this year.
That said …
Three weeks in, not only has Tate not shown any sign of being the big-time receiving threat the Eagles envisioned when they acquired him from the Lions, his presence and the Eagles’ efforts to incorporate him into the offense seem to have had a negative effect on the other receivers and on the offense as a whole.
Not what the Eagles had in mind when they shipped a third-round pick to the Lions on Oct. 30 for the 30-year-old Pro Bowl wide receiver.
Tate has 11 catches for 97 yards in three games since coming to Philly.
But here’s what’s most concerning: During that same three-game stretch — losses to the Cowboys and Saints and a win Sunday over the Giants — Tate has been targeted 20 times, Alshon Jeffery 11 times, Nelson Agholor six times and Jordan Matthews six times.
So Tate has been targeted three fewer times than Jeffery, Agholor and Matthews combined since the trade.
It’s understandable that the Eagles are doing everything they can to get the football to Tate because you want to justify shipping a third-round pick for a guy who’s not under contract beyond this year and — more than that — because he’s a proven playmaker and your offense needs big plays.
But so far, the big plays have been absent, not just from Tate but from the other receivers.
• Jeffery averaged 8.8 targets, 5.8 catches and 68 yards per game before Tate arrived. He’s at 5.3 targets, 3.7 catches and 40 yards post-Tate.
• Agholor averaged 7.6 targets, 5.1 catches and 47 yards per game before Tate and he’s down to 32, 2.0 and 32 yards since.
• Even Matthews has seen his numbers drop, although not as precipitously as Jeffery and Agholor — from 33 yards per game to 26.
But here’s the most concerning thing: Combined, the Eagles’ wide receivers are averaging fewer catches and yards (and touchdowns) since Tate arrived than beforehand.
As a group, they averaged 12 catches for 138 yards the first eight weeks, and they’re at 11 for 129 the last three.
Even the Eagles’ scoring is down — from 22.3 points per game to 17.3.
Obviously, this isn’t all on Tate. A lot of factors go into all these numbers.
But at least after three games, it’s clear that not only has Tate not helped the Eagles’ offense, he’s hurt it.
There’s no denying Tate’s production in Detroit. He became one of only five players in NFL history with four straight 90-catch seasons from 2014 through last year.
Honestly, I loved the trade when the Eagles made it. Adding a playmaker to a struggling offense made sense.
But his first weeks here, we haven’t seen any sign that he’s a special player. He doesn’t have great size, he’s not particularly fast, he’s in his 30s, and he’s making more than $200,000 a week.
His long gain has gone for 15 yards, he’s averaging just 8.8 yards per catch — that’s less than Wendell Smallwood, for crying out loud — and we haven’t seen any of those yards after the catch he was known for in Detroit.
Maybe all that will come.
It wasn’t until his fourth game that Amari Cooper exploded for the Cowboys after they acquired him from the Raiders, so maybe once Tate truly grasps the offense and Carson Wentz develops a better feel for Tate and the coaches have more of an understanding what plays he’s most comfortable with, we’ll see an elite wide receiver.
But with each passing week, I can’t help but wonder a little bit more if maybe he’s just not a good fit here.
The Eagles won a Super Bowl with Agholor and Jeffery. They're both really talented and fit in well here. And Tate’s presence has rendered both of them almost afterthoughts.
I keep trying to convince myself it’s only three games, it’s still early, and things are about to click for Tate — maybe as soon as Monday night against the Redskins.
But the Eagles are running out of time to make this work.
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