Speaking in a press conference for the first time since last Tuesday’s trade deadline, there was plenty to talk about with Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh on Monday afternoon.
Of course, the biggest topic was the Eagles’ new receiver Golden Tate, who was acquired from Detroit for a third-round pick next year. Doug Pederson hasn’t spoken publicly since the trade, so this was our first chance to talk to an offensive coach about Tate.
Here are three takeaways from Groh’s press conference:
Time to catch up
The good news for Tate is that he’s a veteran and he got traded during the Eagles’ bye week. That ought to help him learn the playbook a little quicker, but Groh also likened it to learning a new language.
“We’re jumping in the pool with both feet,” Groh said.
Yeah, they’d better.
With eight games left in the regular season — the only time Tate is guaranteed to be an Eagle — there isn’t much time to coddle him or bring him along slowly. The Eagles gave up a third-round pick for Tate to play in these last eight games (and possibly playoffs) and they need him to produce immediately. That puts a lot of pressure on Tate and the coaching staff, but in order to maximize his value, he needs to almost immediately make an impact.
Now, that doesn’t mean the Eagles can’t make things easier on him as he learns the offense.
“We want to try to get him going as quickly as we can, so we can't just spoon-feed him all the way, but we want him to be playing fast when he's in there,” Groh said. “So, there's a little bit of a balance to that. He'll kind of tell us based on how quickly he's picking things up as to how much more we can keep feeding him.”
All the weapons
Maybe Tate isn’t exactly what the Eagles have been desperately missing. He isn’t that deep threat, burner-like player the Eagles lost when Mike Wallace went to IR. But Tate is still a serious playmaker and whenever a team adds a playmaker, it can help.
“You've got to spread people out and kind of make them choose a little bit in how they want to try to defend you,” Groh said. “When you've got a complement on the other side of the field that they've always got to be aware of, that makes you a lot harder to defend. We think that his (Tate’s) skill set is certainly very complementary to the guys that we already had, and we've just got to try to work him into it.”
It’ll be up to the coaching staff to figure out how all this works. Groh said he thinks Tate and Nelson Agholor do some different things, while also admitting they do have their similarities. Groh and Pederson have a good problem on their hands. It’ll be up to them to figure out how to maximize all their weapons and come up with things that work schematically.
Go back and watch this one
The Eagles play the Cowboys this Sunday night and that’s probably music to Tate’s ears. His best game of the season came against the Cowboys in late September. He had eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions’ 26-24 loss. It was Tate’s sixth two-touchdown game in his career and this was a new high for yards among them.
“He had a lot of explosive plays, a couple touchdowns,” Groh said. “[He] was able to get down the sideline, made a guy miss on the sideline and went the rest of the way for a touchdown. He was a big part of the reason why they were in that game.”
Groh said the Eagles were going to watch that game anyway as they were scouting the Cowboys, but maybe they’ll watch it a little closer to see what worked for Tate. He joked they won’t run the same exact plays, but it would be smart to at least use some of that information as they try to create a game plan.
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