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With the Eagles, Golden Tate is catching on to a different kind of offense | Bob Ford

In a way, it seems that Tate is having less trouble adjusting to the Eagles offense than the offense is having adjusting to him.

Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate is actually fitting in just fine.
Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate is actually fitting in just fine.Read moreYong Kim

Golden Tate knows the question by now.

How long will it take for the veteran receiver to fully acclimate himself to the Eagles offense? How long before the second language he is cramming to learn becomes second nature?

"I've only been on two other teams in nine years and never had to make a midseason change," Tate said after practice this week. "I don't know the answer to that."

Tate's incorporation into the offense has been a continuing topic since he was acquired in a trade with Detroit on Oct. 30. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh said, "It's been challenging to integrate him," which fanned the flames and cast another shadow on the current coaching staff.

"We're trying to get everybody the ball. There is only one football," head coach Doug Pederson said. "You think about the four, five receiver positions that we have and we have two tight ends. All [of them] are part of the game plan. Sometimes, you just don't know where the ball is going."

The expectation when Tate was acquired was that it would go to him pretty often. He has finished among the top 10 for NFL receptions in each of the previous four seasons, and gained more than 1,000 yards in three of the last four.

In seven games with Detroit this season, he was on the field for 80 percent of the offensive snaps, and was targeted an average of 10 times per game and caught an average of 6.3 passes. With the Eagles in three games, all of those figures have been cut by about one-third.

The accepted narrative is that it is taking time for Tate to make the transformation from the Lions playbook to that of the Eagles.

"It's never easy coming in midway through a season and picking up a new offense. The terminology, the signals, the nuances," receivers coach Gunter Brewer said. "I wouldn't say it's holding him back, but he's still learning everything in the offense. It's a big book."

Tate said he concentrates on mastering the anticipated game plan each week rather than trying to put too much more on his plate.

"It's tough at times. It would be impossible for me to sit down by myself and try to learn every position and every concept," he said. "I just take it week by week."

If you  heard only those analyses and didn't look at the statistics, you would expect Tate has been an afterthought in the offense. In fact, judging by the two games in which he was fully involved, it's been just the opposite. He isn't playing, being targeted, or catching balls at the volume he was in Detroit, but compared with the other Eagles receivers, he is getting more than his share.

Tate played only 18 snaps in his first game, against Dallas, but against New Orleans and the Giants, he has totaled 75 snaps and lined up everywhere from the slot, to both wide-out positions, to the backfield. His production is also surprising if you are looking for a guy who is struggling to simply get a chance.

In the two most recent games, Tate has been targeted 16 times and caught nine passes. In those same games, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Jordan Matthews combined for 16 targets and 11 receptions. In a way, it seems that Tate is having less trouble adjusting to the Eagles offense than the offense is having adjusting to him.

At this rate, both Jeffery and Agholor will not match their 2017 production for catches and yards. Tate won't come near his normal production, even including his games with the Lions, but that is more a function of the offensive world he has entered. Carson Wentz is averaging 30 passes per game, compared with 37 per game for Detroit's Matthew Stafford. And the Eagles rely on a lot of quick passes to tight ends and running backs.

For Detroit this season, 70 percent of the completions have gone to wide or slot receivers. For the Eagles, the figure is 42 percent. That doesn't make one system better or worse than another, obviously, just different. But it does mean that fitting in another receiver, perhaps for an eight-game rental at the price of a third-round pick, was obviously going to be a challenge for the Eagles coaching staff, particularly since Tate and Agholor seem to operate best as the slot receiver.

"I wouldn't call it pressure. We've got a really good player and we want to get him into the game at certain spots that he's good at," Brewer said. "We've got a lot of players that way."

Tate and Wentz haven't been able to celebrate a touchdown yet this season, but they did celebrate Thanksgiving together at Wentz's house. Tate posted a picture on Twitter of the two of them side-by-side in the kitchen, with Wentz stacking turkey in a serving dish and Tate wielding an electric carving knife.

"I had to keep that electric knife away from [his] arm," Tate said. "If there was an easiest way to be hated by the city and by the organization, that would be it."

Barring that sort of mishap, the receiver is fitting in just fine, based on his production. He's just learning, along with the offense, that it is a different fit here for a wide receiver and the room is kind of cramped.