No time to coddle: Eagles need to play Golden Tate a bunch from the jump

No time to coddle: Eagles need to play Golden Tate a bunch from the jump

Just 12 full days after the Eagles acquired Golden Tate, the former Pro Bowler is going to take the field on Sunday Night Football against the hated Dallas Cowboys. 

The real question becomes, how much will he play? 

Here’s what Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Tate’s usage: 

I think there's a fine line with how much we want to put him out there, because I want to be careful that I'm not doing him a disservice by putting him out there with something he's uncomfortable with. So, making sure that we have a nice, tight plan for him is important this week.

I get all that. 

I get that, ideally, the Eagles would bring Tate along slowly as he learns the offense and his teammates. 

But there’s simply no time to coddle him. 

Tate needs to hit the ground running. The Eagles traded away a third-round pick for a guy with just eight games left on his contract. And at 4-4, they don’t have a week to waste; every game is important, especially ones in the division and against weaker opponents. Damn near all of these NFC East games are must-wins. 

Sure, reports out of New Orleans (before the injury) said the Saints were waiting a week to start Dez Bryant, but the Saints have a 7-1 record and have built up a lead in the NFC. The Eagles have no such luxury.

Pederson explained that game plans are built throughout the week. So they start Wednesday in practice with a handful of plays. Then later in the week, they get into situational football, goal line, third down, red zone, backed up, etc. So everything in the game plan is either carried over from earlier in the week or added situationally. 

If Tate were a 23- or 24-year-old, you could make the case that expecting too much from him too early would be a problem. But this is a 30-year-old vet who has played in several different offenses and at a Pro Bowl level in this league. Sure, offensive coordinator Mike Groh likened learning a new offense to learning a new language, but he neglected to say that Tate has learned a new language before and has all the building blocks. It’s like going from one romantic language to another. There are little differences. 

And good on Tate for putting the work in. That much is clear. From the time he got traded, he’s been neck deep in the playbook, so much so that he skipped going to church with Carson Wentz on Sunday to stay home in his tablet. Earlier this week, I even saw Tate seek clarification from Wentz on something and the QB was quick to explain everything in detail. It’s not just Wentz either; guys like Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz have also been helping Tate with the playbook. 

Based on conversations with players in the locker room, it seems like Tate is going to play mostly in the slot this weekend and likely going forward. Based on Tate’s ability, a lot of what the Eagles can do with him should circle around getting the ball in his hands quickly after the snap and allowing him to make something happen. 

You’ll probably remember last year when Jay Ajayi got traded to the Eagles. He had eight carries for 77 yards and a touchdown in his debut. Maybe it’s easier to learn the offense as a running back, especially if that back isn’t asked to pass protect right away. But Tate has had even longer to learn the offense than Ajayi did last season. 

Furthermore, the Cowboys know the Eagles’ offense and they know Golden Tate, but they don’t know what to expect from Golden Tate in the Eagles’ offense. That can be an advantage for the Birds; one they should exploit. 

So on Sunday night, forget bringing Tate along slowly. He needs to be a big part of the offense from the moment he steps on the field. I think he will be.

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Eagle Eye podcast: A huge extension for Brandon Brooks

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Eagle Eye podcast: A huge extension for Brandon Brooks

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro react to Brandon Brooks’ four-year extension worth over $56 million. 

Brooks will go down as one of the best free agent pickups in Eagles history. Jordan Matthews is back yet again. The receivers could definitely use some help. The secondary looks a little more solid. 

The Eagles find themselves in a good position after the bye.

• Brandon Brooks gets an extension
• Jordan Matthews x3 
• Yes, we’re talking about WRs again 
• The division is there for the taking 
• A look at the secondary down the stretch
• Everyone have a good bye week? 

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Eagles sign Brandon Brooks to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign Brandon Brooks to 4-year contract extension

The Eagles on Monday locked up all-pro guard Brandon Brooks with a contract extension that runs through 2024 and makes him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

The 30-year-old Brooks, who has made a remarkable recovery from Achilles surgery, was already signed through 2020. The new deal runs from 2021 through 2024.

According to AthletesFirst, the agency that represents Brooks, the deal is worth $56.2 million over four years.

That $14.05 million annual average makes Brooks the highest-paid guard in the NFL, just ahead of Zach Martin of the Cowboys, whose six-year, $84 million deal signed last year is worth $14 million per year.

Brooks had been signed through 2020 with base salaries of $8 million this year and $7.5 million next year on his original five-year, $40 million deal with the Eagles.

Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said Brooks is having the best year of his career.

I see a locked in guy,” Stoutland said. “I see a guy that’s just zoned in on what he’s doing from each play. I’m very, very happy with his production, with his level of execution and all the technique that we’re teaching him, he applies it all. He’s a smart man.

Brooks suffered a torn Achilles on Jan. 13 during the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints at the Superdome.

But he returned to practice the week before the opener and hasn’t missed a step. After playing 54 of a possible 74 snaps in the opener against the Redskins — he rested late in the game once the Eagles had a double-digit lead — he’s played all 564 snaps in the last eight games at right guard.

What’s stood out about Brooks’ miracle recovery?

The way he just embraced that whole situation and fought through all the adversity and came back with such a positive attitude,” Stoutland said Monday. “I never once saw him down in the tank, worrying about him or ‘why me?’ or any of that. … The approach he had was always positive and, ‘My mission is to get back for that first game,’ and he was able to do that. He’s having the best season of his life right now. It’s a credit to him, it’s well-deserved. He’s a tremendous member of our team. Unbelievable attitude. I love the way he prepares and most especially the way he performs on Sunday.

Brooks, Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Kelce are the only players to start all 46 games the Eagles have played since opening day of 2017.

Brooks initially joined the Eagles in 2016 as a free agent from the Texans, and quickly emerged as one of the greatest free agent signings in franchise history.

He made his first two Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018 in his sixth and seventh NFL seasons and is on track to make a third straight.

No guard in Eagles history has ever made three Pro Bowls. Brooks, Shawn Andrews and Evan Mathis each made three.

The Eagles now have 26 players under contract through 2021, 14 through 2022 and five through 2023. Brooks is the only player on the roster signed through 2024.

On the offensive line, Isaac Seumalo and Andre Dillard are signed through 2022 and Lane Johnson and Kelce through 2021.

Jason Peters and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are currently due to become unrestricted free agents after this season.

Among those under contract through at least 2021 are Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Malik Jackson, Avonte Maddox and T.J. Edwards.

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