The incorporation of Golden Tate has been unnatural for the Philadelphia Eagles. You know there are issues when the team is highlighting “contested grab in the red zone” on their website, likely in hopes of making this unfortunate situation look better.
That’s the best play they can find from Tate in Week 12 from the Eagles’ 25-22 win over the New York Jets. It’s probably the best play from his three-game Eagles’ tenure, which is a sad reality for a team that gave up a third-round pick for the playmaker.
Philly designed plays to get the ball in Tate’s hands on Sunday, probably in part because they haven’t been able to do so in past weeks (He hasn’t yet eclipsed 50 yards with Philadelphia). Tate’s barrage of targets didn’t boost his production, and may have been a bit of a hindrance to the offense. Tate had four catches on eight targets for 40 yards. As a point of comparison, tight end Zach Ertz also had eight targets, but he spun them into seven receptions for 91 yards a touchdown.
Tate is just awkward in this offense. He’s a misfit — for now.
It’s fair to point blame at all the parties involved. Tate had an egregious drop in space on Sunday, just a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The play probably wouldn’t have gone for a big gain, but the Eagles needed the yards on the series. They punted two plays later. On a third-and-6 in the third quarter, Wentz targeted Tate for a contested catch in the end zone, but Tate couldn’t haul in the ball as a Giants defensive back got a hand on it. It would have been a remarkable play — but it’s the type of play Philly expected from Tate when they gave up a draft pick.
And then there’s the shortcomings from Wentz, who fired well over Tate’s head on his first target of the game, a route deep downfield near the left sideline. The ball was nowhere near Tate. In the first quarter, Wentz also inexplicably targeted Tate too late in the flat (in the play shown above). Wentz forced the ball to Tate, and got the best possible outcome: an incompletion. Had Tate caught the pass, he would have gotten wrecked by the incoming defensive back. Had the defensive back had a bit of awareness, he could have intercepted the pass.
It’s fair to wonder whether Wentz is feeling internal pressure from the coaches or external pressure from fans and media to get the ball to Tate.
The Eagles were so intent upon getting the ball to Tate that he began to attract defensive attention on screen routes. So with Tate sending defensive eyes to the flats, Wentz would hand off the ball to running backs Corey Clement or Josh Adams for big gains. Tate wasn’t a decisive factor in the run game — the Eagles were running well regardless. But Tate cleared out some space for his teammates at times, including a 16-yard gain for tight end Dallas Goedert. Tate went in motion to Wentz’s left. The defense followed. And Goedert was open for a misdirection screen on the right.
Tate contributed on and off the stat sheet. Those contributions, however, haven’t been enough.
The Eagles coaches haven’t figured out how to use their pass-catching personnel with the exception of Ertz, who is having a monster season. The receivers like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Tate have been absent from offensive production. Perhaps Doug Pederson is missing former quarterback coach John DeFilippo, the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, and former offensive coordinator Frank Reich, now the Colts’ head coach.
The brain drain is real.