The Golden Tate trade isn’t working out. In four and a half seasons with the Lions, Tate averaged nearly 6 catches and 67 yards a game. In three games with the Eagles, he has 11 catches for 97 yards. But it’s not just his production that is the problem. The addition of Tate was supposed to turn the Eagles offense up a notch, it’s had the opposite effect.
|Without Tate||With Tate|
If we look at the weekly target distribution, we can see how the addition of Tate is siphoning opportunities from everyone.
This is a little noisy, so let’s clean it up a little. Let’s start from the when Alshon Jeffery returned, because the receiving corp in the first three games was a makeshift unit. And with the Eagles running back by committee, let’s just lump them together as one person. What we’re really interested in is how Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Dallas Goedert are effected. The results are pretty clear.
The issue isn’t Tate himself. The Eagles didn’t acquire a bad player. Already one of the more productive pass catchers in the league during his time with the Lions, he was on pace for his most productive season in Detroit.
|Career High||2018 Pace|
The issue is that Tate is square peg in the round hole that the Eagles have at receiver. The injuries to Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace left the Eagles short on outside receivers, and lacking a deep threat. They were well stocked on pass catchers who best operate in the middle of the field in Ertz, Agholor, Matthews, and Goedert. With the addition of Tate, they doubled down. In his three games with the Eagles, Tate has played 80% of his snaps in the slot, per PFF. Agholor and Matthews are playing a slightly higher share of their snaps on the outside (along with Alshon Jeffery, who occasionally moved inside), but mostly, they’re just playing less.
Everyone except Alshon Jeffery is playing less. Matthews, Agholor and Goedert, fine. But Zach Ertz playing less is ridiculous. However despite his reduction in playing time, Ertz’s quest to rewrite the tight end history books has taken a bump up since Tate’s arrival.
|Pre-Tate||Pre-Tate Pace||With Tate||Adj. Pace|
Mike Groh said that it has been “challenging” to fit Tate into the offense. While he deserves criticism for that comment, the root problem was that the front office acquired a player that didn’t fit the offense.