The Eagles ‘Golden’ Ticket Arrives
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - So what's been the difference with the 2018 Eagles versus the Super Bowl version a year ago?
Well, let's put it as plainly as we can. Through eight games in 2017, the then 7-1 Philadelphia team had allowed 149 points through eight games. The 4-4 group this time around has eerily allowed 149 at the midway point.
The difference is on the other side of the football where the offense averaged 27.3 points per game a year ago versus 22.3 now.
The Eagles needed a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball and Howie Roseman did his part at the trade deadline, renting YAC-machine Golden Tate from Detroit in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick.
Tate isn't the typical diva WR despite massive production over the years. He's a smart, understated worker who quickly realized the passion he was placed in the middle of when flying from the Motor City to Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
On board were about a dozen Eagles fans trying to make it back to the City of Brotherly Love from London, where the Birds arguably stayed in the buyer's market by topping Jacksonville.
The chatter grew as the fans began to realize the newest Bird was about to take flight with them. Tate took a seat next to a man who eyed him before moving to his phone to confirm it really was the Golden Tate.
A conversation ensued and turns out the fan worked for the IRS and gave Tate the heads up on the much-maligned Philadelphia wage tax, telling the veteran receiver to pursue an exemption to road games.
"I can't put into words how excited I am to be a part of such a strong, passionate fan base," Tate said Wednesday during his introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex.
Taxes aside Tate is more concerned about making the last eight games on his current contract good ones for his new team.
"I'd love to be here for as long as you all accept me," Tate said. "What I meant by at least the next eight games is I kind of plan on going to the playoffs and playing a few more."
At 4-4 the Eagles are two games behind Washington in the loss column with those eight games to play in the NFC East race. As far as the conference, chasing down the Los Angles Rams and New Orleans Saints is unlikely at this point but the acquisition of Tate is a clear indication by Philadelphia that the postseason remains the goal.
"I think the sky's the limit for this organization," Tate said. "We just won a Super Bowl, not even a year ago. We definitely have the pieces. Now's the time to get hot. Going into November with five more division games coming up. ... Second [in the NFC East], right there in the mix."
With the Eagles on the bye week, Tate will get a few extra days to get settled off the field as well as beginning a crash course in Doug Pederson's offense. At 5-foot-11, he's often stereotyped as a slot receiver but Tate spent the majority of his career playing on the outside successfully before Detroit realized it had something in Kenny Golladay and moved Tate inside.
In Philadelphia, Tate is immediately the team's best outside receiver after Alshon Jeffery and the top slot option despite the presence of Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews.
“I want to do whatever's going to help this team win,” Tate said. “When the ball's in my hand, I want to be able to make a play. And if I can help our young guys, like Nelly and Alshon, and the other guys we have, and anything with technique or knowledge, I'm going to do that. I just want to win.”
A former running back who made the move to WR in college at Notre Dame, Tate's trademark is a powerful lower body which allows him to break tackles that typical receivers simply cannot, compiling an NFL-best 1,528 yards after the catch since 2016.
"My mom always told me, 'You can't hit what you can't catch'," Tate said. "I don't like to be tackled, so I just try to fight for every yard. I feel like when I get the ball in my hands, there's a chance I can break it and take it."
The Eagles are counting on that.
"Hopefully it all works out," Tate mused. "I want to be here and just know from Day 1, I'm all-in."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen