The Challenge of Integrating Golden Tate
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It certainly wasn't planned but Thanksgiving week has been a "challenging" one for the reeling Philadelphia Eagles.
Attempting to rebound from a 48-7 drubbing at the hands of the powerful New Orleans Saints and prepare for a key divisional matchup against the New York Giants, offensive coordinator Mike Groh started the theme on Tuesday at his weekly media availability when discussing the difficulty of getting Golden Tate involved in the offense.
Since being acquired by the Eagles at the trade deadline of Oct. 30 the typically productive Tate has played in just 54 snaps in losses to Dallas and the Saints, and made seven receptions for 67 yards.
"I don't know if it's been more difficult, but it's been challenging to integrate [Tate]," Groh admitted. "Certainly, with the way we weren't able to stay on the field the other day, and finding a rhythm for the offense, that part of it, then everything becomes a bit disjointed. If we can do a better job of staying on the field and having drives, then everybody gets more involved in the offense."
The disconnect seems to be the redundancy of Tate and Nelson Agholor, players who excel most in the slot.
"Roles changed a couple weeks ago, so, again, [we're] trying to find a rhythm with the substitutions and getting guys in the right spots," Groh said. "We haven't done a good job with it in the last two weeks, or good enough, to get the results that we want."
On Wednesday before Doug Pederson even addressed Tate he noted that every day in the NFL presents hurdles to overcome.
"Every day. Every day is a challenge," the coach explained. "Every day is a great opportunity to get better, to game plan, to scheme, to go back and look at what's made you successful in the past and continue to grow, continue to work. It's something that I do every single day I come in this building."
So what's been the issue with Tate, a receiver four 90-catch seasons and three 1,000-yard campaigns?
"Any time you bring a player in that adds value and adds talent to your roster, I don't care what position it is, there's going to be a learning curve," Pederson claimed. "Now, in Golden's case, this guy has played a ton of football, and he's a sharp guy, and he understands the scheme of a route or the actual route design. But now how we call the play or how we call that route is where, for his learning curve, is where he needs to learn that and obviously get caught up. He's spent countless hours with [Eagles wide receivers coach] Gunter [Brewer], with Mike [Groh], asking questions of myself in these last, what, three weeks or so to try to get himself caught up."
Time is running out since Tate is a free agent in the offseason and the Eagles moved a third-round pick with the intent of making the eight games he had under his contract really count.
"It added value to our football team, and we're going to continue -- listen, we didn't have enough touches in the game Sunday. There weren’t enough snaps. We didn't stay on the field enough. We didn't convert third downs. It has nothing to do with players," Pederson insisted. "It's we have to do, collectively, a better job of making more plays and staying on the field, and we didn't do that as an offense Sunday.
"Until we can do that and spread the ball around a little bit, you can point the finger all you want."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen