Late into Saturday evening, the Lions, as an organization, could be celebrating their first playoff victory in 25 years. The win would mean a lot to a fanbase that has gone so long without, and Golden Tate recognizes that.
“We just want to win” he told Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “We want to win. It’s deeper than me. I want to win because I think this organization deserves to win. I think we’ve earned our way into the playoffs. We had a great week of practice. It’s time to win,” said Tate.
But the Notre Dame product, who began his career with the Seattle Seahawks the same season Pete Carroll took over as head coach, has some extra motivation.
“But I’d be lying if I said personally I don’t want to win as much.”
It was reported earlier in the week by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein that Tate, who signed with the Lions during free agency in 2014, didn’t receive the offer from Seattle due to faulty communication. Whether or not Carroll’s comments hold up, that much is a bit dubious—he curiously stated “I loved him on our team, but you can’t keep everybody” which smells like coded language from a team who was fresh off of a Super Bowl victory and tasked with making some difficult decisions with dollar allocation.
Tate’s start to 2016 was a rocky one that caused many to question his role with the team: he caught just 14 passes for 95 yards over the Lions first four games—a stretch in which Detroit went 1-3. Tate’s season would turn around in a hurry though, jumpstarted by a Week 6 performance against the Rams where he caught eight passes for 165 yard and a touchdown. Tate finished the season with 91 receptions, 1,077 yards and four touchdowns, a far cry from the pace he established after his start to the season.
Now, Tate looks to continue to build upon his impressive regular season in the postseason, meeting his former team and matching up against a Seattle secondary that has struggled without Earl Thomas down the stretch. At this time a year ago, Seattle’s pass defense ranked third in DVOA at -9.8 percent (the more negative the number, the better). To finish 2016, by Legion of Boom standards, the pass defense plummeted from fifth in DVOA all the way to 13th at 3.8 percent. Over the final five games of 2016, which coincides with the absence of Thomas’, the pass defense ranks an abysmal 30th in DVOA.
Football Outsiders does an incredible job of providing some more advanced statistics that actually break down a defense’s effectiveness against types of receivers. While they state that their decision of “... which receiver is 'number one' and which receiver is 'number two' is somewhat subjective,” Seattle has had its fair share of troubles against all types of receiving threats.
Whether the Lions No. 1 or No. 2 wide receiver this Saturday against Seattle is Tate or Marvin Jones, who has started to ever so slightly, and ever so slowly creep out of his midseason slump, one of them has a great opportunity to have a breakout performance.
And Detroit will need it, from Marvin Jones, Tate, Eric Ebron, Anquan Boldin, anyone, to come out of CenturyLink Field with their first playoff victory in 25 seasons.