Golden Tate Could Emerge As Lions Best Receiver In 2015


Since joining the league in 2010 as the second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, Golden Tate has improved with every season.  By his fourth year in Seattle he was a Superbowl champion and an underrated part of a run heavy Seattle Seahawk offense.  Despite his success with the Seahawks, Tate left the Pacific Northwest for a chance to be a part of an offense where he would have more of a chance to make an impact.

The result was better than both team and player expected.  Golden Tate’s 99 receptions and 1331 yards led all Detroit Lions receivers including Calvin Johnson.  In fact in four weeks last season he stepped into Megatron’s role as the number one target for Matthew Stafford.  Tate collected 25 of his career high 99 receptions in the weeks Johnson was injured helping the Lions to a four game win streak in that span.

You’d think Golden Tate would be satisfied with his career season in 2014 but the former Notre Dame golden domer wants to keep the streak of career years that extends back to his rookie season with Seattle.

Tate has also stepped up as a team leader this offseason.  In recent comments to the press, Tate propped up his fellow receiver’s saying that the offensive development is ahead of where they were last year.

"“I think we’re definitely ahead of where we were. We don’t have to do anything different we just have to be a little better,’’ Tate said on Monday. “That’s one thing Coach (Jim) Caldwell said this offseason.“Offensively I feel like we know our assignments. We know how it’s supposed to look. Now we can dial in on really understanding the coverages, what pass or what play does Matt (Stafford) really like in a coverage. Being on the outside, knowing a different signal without it being too much and being confident we’re both going to know we’re on the same page."

I think we are starting to see the passing of the torch from Calvin Johnson to Golden Tate.  Megatron has struggled with injuries in the past couple of seasons.

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Although Calvin Johnson at 75% is better than most receivers in the NFL, it is clear that age is catching up to the future Hall of Famer.  This is not to say that Golden Tate could replace Calvin Johnson.  Johnson is a once in a lifetime talent without equal.

However, it is conceivable that Tate could become the Detroit Lions leading receiver again this season while Johnson moves into a role similar to the one Larry Fitzgerald had for Arizona last season. In 2014 Fitzgerald saw a significant reduction in receptions (63) and yards (784) but was there when the Cards needed a big play.  Johnson could have the same role for the Lions, making big plays down the field and in the redzone while leaving the crossing routes and outs to the younger, more durable players.

That could make Calvin Johnson something of a big play specialist, a role that could help Megatron to stay healthy and on the field.  The Lions are a different team without Johnson on the field and they must limit his exposure to injury as much as possible to keep him on it.

If Golden Tate accomplishes his goal of achieving another career season that should give him more than 100 receptions, over 1500 yards and more than 5 touchdowns in 2015. A performance like that would help Johnson ease into the next phase of his career and usher Tate into the prime of his.

Next: Detroit Lions Position Analysis: Wide Receivers