WHEN the Eagles traded for Golden Tate, many fans were happy about it. Not me. I was the guy on social media asking, “Why did we trade for a 30 year old WR?” Now, 3 games, 11 catches, and just 97 yards later, many of the happy crowd are souring on Tate himself. And that’s not fair. He never had a chance at doing what the Eagles need.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Groh, said recently that he’s having trouble integrating Tate into the Offense. Which makes total sense. When last year’s OC Frank Reich left to be the head man in Indianapolis, the Eagles had a no-brainer decision to make in promoting RB’s coach Duce Staley, to the OC spot. They goofed and instead gave the job to Groh, who isn’t nearly as seasoned as Staley. What we’re seeing from the Eagles Offense, is a poor integration of a position coach to a strategy coach.
Golden Tate is a WR. You throw him the ball past the line of scrimmage. That is how you integrate him into an Offense. This attempt to cast him the role of injured RB Darren Sproles is why his integration has gone so poorly. On the surface it seems like he’s a natural fill-in for a guy like Sproles, but that’s where Groh not being as seasoned as Staley, hurts us the most. It’s what happens when an Offensive Coordinator (who’s trying to prove how clever he is), fucks up by putting the cart before the horse. Repeatedly.
With experience you gain not just knowledge (knowing how to do something), but wisdom (knowing why you do, or don’t do, something). Tate is similar to Sproles only on the surface. A WR thinks differently than a RB does. They have different intrinsic purposes, and so they are used differently. If a player like Darren Sproles could be manufactured by putting a WR in the backfield, then every team would have one or two. But it doesn’t work that way. Staley knows that. Groh obviously does not.
Tate isn’t a deep threat. He’s not a jump ball winner. He’s not a red zone dominator. He’s a guy who gets the ball in space and makes extra yardage. Basically he’s a Slot receiver. The easiest and most traditional way to work a Slot in, is to line him up on the weakside of the formation, and throw him passes that stretch the defense horizontally, or quick dumps over a blitz. There. Done. Integrated.
This would be apparent to an OC who himself wasn’t being integrated. Then again, given Staley’s background coaching RB’s who catch the ball (Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement), the Tate trade likely wouldn’t have even happened if he’d gotten the OC post. He’d have probably asked to get RB LeGarrette Blount back, so we could run over some people.
At least that’s what I’d have asked for.