Golden Tate…..I pause only because I wanted to give everyone a chance to jump on the ever-expanding bandwagon. The much maligned second year player had his back against the wall, and needed to do something, anything, to show he could play at the NFL level. His coaches and teammates get to see it in practice, but the 12th Man wanted to see it during a game when it mattered (even if it is the fourth pre-season game). The “Doug Baldwin should replace Tate” cries have been heard all week, as well as the thought that he could actually be cut. So the big question was: How would he respond?
How’s 5 great catches for 79 yards, and a nice night returning kicks grab you? Well if you are like me, you want more than just stats. So lets look at how it happened. Here’s a quick video replaying some of his night:
The Cover 3:
1. PROTECTION In one of my previous articles I discussed the very important aspects to any successful passing play. One of those aspects is solid pass protection. Down after down, the line gave the QBs ample time to go through their progressions and find the open man. James Carpenter even showed signs of improvement which is a huge positive going into week one of the regular season. This allowed Golden Tate to separate from defenders with solid route running, and make plays in the passing game. Bottom line: Golden Tate had a lot to prove and he would’ve had no chance without the solid play upfront. Well done.
2. ADJUSTMENTS There were a few times during the game where Golden Tate flashed the proper awareness to break off his route, and become a target for a QB on the run. This is a pretty elementary thing, but this was the first time I’ve really seen him execute the scramble drill during a game. In the first photo Charlie Whitehurst is flushed from the pocket by pressure off the right edge. Tate is running an out to the sideline, but as he makes his break, and snaps his head around, he sees the pressure develop. Realizing the corner is in a zone, he breaks off his route, comes back inside, and sprints up the seam for a nice gain. These are the kinds of things you would like to see him do more of. He’s a gifted athlete, but as even he admitted, the game is so mental, it can sometimes slow you down. It appears for this game at least, the mind was at peace, and the instincts took over.
3. IMPACT PLAYMAKER All this kid did at Notre Dame was make plays. A lot of them. It was his jump off the screen athleticism, and uncanny ability to get it done, that really excited the Seahawks on draft day. Up until last night I had yet to see much of anything to get excited about. He never seemed fast or agile considering all the hype, and in my opinion, he was a below average receiver in multiple categories. I was really beginning to wonder if he would ever separate from defenders, go up after a ball, and come down with it. Against the Raiders, he played the ball so well in traffic, and in the air. His explosiveness was also on display in the kick and punt return game. If he can continue this type of play the Seahawks just may be able to utilize him in role similar to Percy Harvin’s in Minnesota.
This was just a pre-season game. This was also the first step in the long journey to achieve the ever elusive potential that so many people feel he has. For a week at least, the fans have jumped on the Tate bandwagon. I am not there quite yet, but any Seahawk player success is almost always directly linked to team success. That is why he’s my Cover 3 Award winner, and a player that I’m very excited to see develop in 2011.
So tell us what you think. Who would have been your choice for the Cover 3 Award Winner?