Lions: A "Golden" start to the season for Tate
When Golden Tate was signed by the Detroit Lions in the offseason, many predicted a breakout year for him. The idea was that as defenses schemed to take away Calvin Johnson, Tate would reap the benefits. But few could have predicted the success the former Seahawk has had already as the No. 2 in Detroit.
Last season Tate posted career highs across the board. His +8.0 receiving grade was the sixteenth-best in the league among wide receivers, and he was one of 19 WRs to average greater than 2.0 Yards Per Route Run (2.01).
This year Tate is on pace to shatter all of his previous career highs. Currently his 2.40 yards per route would project him to finish with 1444 receiving yards – over 500 yards more than last season.
Even more impressive is his catch percentage rate. Tate has never finished a season with a catch percentage over 70% and so far this season he’s caught 82% of the balls thrown his way.
There’s no doubt that the attention Johnson draws has helped Tate excel, but it also helps that the Lions are using him in more suitable positions to maximize his skill set. As a smaller, quicker receiver, Tate seems much more suited to play in the slot than on the outside. Through five games the Lions have had him lined up in the slot on 65% of his routes, much more often than his 20% slot rate last year in Seattle.
The Lions have been searching for a legitimate compliment to Johnson ever since they drafted him. If the first five games of the season are any indication, they’ve finally found it in Tate.