The Eagles made a huge splash at the trade deadline, bringing in Golden Tate for a third-round pick.
Then they didn’t play him.
In his Eagles debut last week, Tate played just 18 snaps (29 percent) against the Cowboys. He had just two catches for 19 yards, his worst output in a game since early in the 2016 season. That’s not good enough.
Doug Pederson eventually explained they went with more tempo on offense and Tate was more comfortable with the huddle. That wasn’t an answer that explained the misuse away, but at least it was an answer. Pederson said going tempo won’t affect Tate this week, now that he’s been here for three weeks.
So expect Tate to play more and have a bigger impact this weekend in New Orleans.
Here was Doug Pederson’s assessment of how much further along Tate is this week:
He doesn't know it all, because we're not throwing it all at him. But he has a really good handle now going into, like I said, his third week really with us. And really just the amount of practice reps that he gets and seeing it over and over and over again. He has a good grasp of kind of what we're doing and how we're kind of positioning him, each and every week.
While it’s not entirely clear how much Tate will play this week, you can bet he’ll be out there more in New Orleans than he was against the Cowboys. And this is probably the perfect week to make a concerted effort to get Tate involved.
The 30-year-old has played three career games at the Superdome and has put up big numbers: 21 catches (on 23 targets) for 286 yards and four touchdowns. That means he’s averaging nearly 100 yards per game and over a touchdown in each game in New Orleans.
And in his career, Tate has had big success overall in domes. He has averaged 67.6 yards per game indoors, compared to 44.0 yards per game outdoors. In 49 dome games, he has 21 touchdowns. In 71 outdoor games, he has 13.
Of course, those stats don’t mean anything if the Eagles don’t play Tate on Sunday. I think they will. If they don’t, it’s coaching malpractice. He can help an offense that has averaged just 22.0 points per game this season.
Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Mike Groh was asked at whose expense will Tate’s extended snaps come.
“I think that's probably to be determined, and it depends on the play,” Groh said. “You know, what the play is that’s called and what we're trying to get done with it. Just trying to put guys in spots where they do things the best. So if we make that determination where it's a good play for Golden, then he'll be in there.”
The obvious answers to that question are Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews. Tate will fit best in the slot — which is where he got most of his reps the first week — which means Agholor will lose time. But it’s also possible the Eagles try to keep Agholor on the field too, perhaps as an outside receiver instead of Matthews. It’s likely both Agholor and Matthews will lose some playing time as Tate gets more.
But that’s what needs to happen.
“We brought [Tate] here to play him a lot,” Groh said.
That should start this Sunday.
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