I took a look at his first few games and the thing that really stood out to me was the guy's balance. I know that is a sort of arbitrary skill to list - but Tate consistently wowed me with his ability to catch over his shoulder all awkwardly and then run downfield with ease. He consistently can take hits and just bounce one way or another and keep running. He's also got a really slick spin move he uses to break tackles that I think will become his signature some day. Anyhow, here's some tape study:
Week 2 @ Denver
(12:13) B.Colquitt punts 63 yards to SEA 15, Center-L.Paxton. G.Tate to DEN 22 for 63 yards (D.Bruton). DEN-R.Ayers was injured during the play.
I remember being so excited about Golden Tate early in the year. The Denver game certainly helped. Tate takes the punt at the Seahawks 15 yard line, looks up field and sees he's got to first beat the gunner, who he promptly jukes out of his shoes and starts up field - this lane closes quickly and Tate bounces off two more would-be tacklers and breaks it outside. He hustles downfield for another 55 yards or so before getting brought down. He doesn't appear to have elite breakaway speed necessarily but runs like a running back - bouncing off tackles and picking good lanes.
(3:31 3rd Q) M.Hasselbeck pass deep left to G.Tate to DEN 28 for 52 yards (B.Dawkins). (1st and 10)
Seahawks in a 3WR set, with Tate lined up left on the line. Matt Hasselbeck under center, takes the snap, and sort of just lobs a pass to the sideline - it's more or less a fade. It actually reminds me of the fade passes they'd throw on 4th down that gave us all fits during the season.
But this time it's a completion: Tate goes up and smoothly reels it in and deftly turns up field and runs in stride without going out of bounds. The corner on Tate looks like he either thought Tate would be out of bounds and quit or he got hurt on the play. Anyway, Tate then sprints downfield, cutting inside, spinning off a tackle, juking and stuttering for another 35 yards or so- his only mistake coming when he should have kept running forward but basically juked himself into the tackling player at the end of the run. The thing that always strikes me about Tate is that he's got a ridiculous ability to keep his feet under him despite getting hit and spinning and juking. It's very evident on this play, and is quite impressive. Tate's first NFL reception. You need to watch it, so do so here:
Really impressive he was able to stay in bounds here. I probably would have fallen down and hurt myself.
(3:42 4th Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete deep right to G.Tate. (1st and 10)
Tate lined up to the right, Hass in shotgun. Tate runs a sideline route and Hass lofts it up to him, but overthrows it by about 10 yards and out of bounds. Tate has no chance on this one.
(3:02 4th Q) B.Colquitt punts 53 yards to SEA 23, Center-L.Paxton. G.Tate pushed ob at SEA 42 for 19 yards (L.Paxton). Denver challenged the runner was down by contact ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2 at 02:45.)
Another good example of Tate's shiftiness. To sum up, he juked about 15 times on this play, cutting inside then back out, making his way downfield for 19 yards - but he probably ran 40 yards on the play.
Week 3 vs San Diego
(12:45 1st Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short left to G.Tate to SD 40 for 5 yards (S.Phillips). (2nd and 9)
Hawks in a 2WR, 2TE, 1 RB set. Tate starts on the right, then motions left all the way out to the wing left. Hass in the shotgun, takes the snap, and swings a bubble screen out to Tate at the line of scrimmage. Tate works his way upfield for 5 yards, breaking one tackle immediately after the catch.
(:22 1st Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short right to G.Tate to SEA 25 for 11 yards (Q.Jammer). (3rd and 11)
Tate lined up to the right in a 4WR set. Ball is snapped, Tate does a good job getting off the corner who tries to jam him. Golden runs a 7 yard slant and reels in the pass from Hass in stride, runs forward for 4 yards, and picks up the first down.
(13:37 2nd Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short left to G.Tate to SD 2 for 8 yards (A.Cason).
3WR set - Tate out to the left wing. Hass takes the snap, looks to throw it right, it's not there, pressure comes, he steps up into the pocket and slings a pass over to Tate on the left wing who goes up high to catch it. Falls forward to the San Diego 2 yard line.
(:34 2nd Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short middle to G.Tate to SD 2 for 9 yards (E.Weddle). (1st and 10)
A lot of you will remember this play as the time when Tate tried to do a front flip into the end zone but didn't quite make it. 3WR, 2TE set, with Tate on the right wing. Deion Branch is in the slot here and actually false starts but the line judge doesn't see it. Ball is snapped, Tate runs a 7 yard slant route and Hass hits him. Tate takes another two steps or so and tries to dive into the endzone from the 4 yard line. Doesssssn't quite make it, and flips all the way vertical and lands basically on his head. Good effort anyway.
Week 4 at St. Louis
(10:53 1st Q) G.Tate right end to SL 44 for 1 yard (J.Butler, N.Diggs). (1st and 10)
Hawks lined up in a 2WR, 2 TE set - Lynch is the lone back. The ball is snapped and it looks like there's a blown coverage because the DT for the Rams just waltzes through the line and almost completely blows the play up. It's an end-around to Tate though, running from the left to right, and Hass sort of shovels it to him at the last second before getting creamed. Tate takes it and runs with it, but the play just never really develops downfield. In this case, it's not Tate's fault, he runs into 3 Rams and get's taken down for a 1 yard gain. I like that they're getting him involved, but the downfield blocking was nonexistent on this play.
(1:17 2nd Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete deep left to G.Tate. (2nd and 10)
This play may be part of the reason that despite a pretty promising start to the season, he was slowly fazed out of the offense. The Hawks are lined up in a 3WR set in the two-minute offense at about the Ram's 33 yard line. Hass takes the snap and throws a deep fade to Tate in the endzone - except Tate runs a 10 yard out route and is nowhere near where the ball lands. Hass immediately starts yelling at him. I kind of got the feeling that Hass was exasperated with Tate throughout the year; whenever you'd hear interviews about it Hass would compliment Tate's talent but then talk about his route running and the little things and you'd hear a twinge of annoyance - that's me anyway. I could be off base, but that's the impression I got.
(5:22 3rd Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short left to G.Tate to SEA 23 for 8 yards (D.Vobora). (2nd and 10)
Tate out to the far left, runs a short 5 yard slant and Hass hits him quickly. Tate turns up field and gains another 2 or 3 yards before being brought down by a gaggle of defenders. One thing that I notice about Tate is that he doesn't go down easy, and when he does, he's always falling forward for that extra yard. A great instinct to have for a receiver.
(:39 4th Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short left to G.Tate pushed ob at SEA 35 for 13 yards (J.King).
Garbage time, but good work nonetheless. Hass in the shotgun, slings it out to Tate who has just run a 7 yard curl route to the sideline. Tate reels it in, turns upfield, breaks a tackle and runs forward for another 3 or 4 yards. It's frustrating to me to watch these games because he seems to do a really good job - but obviously he had some issues that led to him getting benched. I know that it didn't help when Stokley was brought in, but he must have had enough mistakes to get in the doghouse with the coaching staff.
Week 8 at Oakland
(8:42 1st Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass short right to G.Tate to SEA 28 for 12 yards (T.Branch). (3rd and 16)
Hawks in a 3WR set with Carlson lined up in the slot as well. Tate to the left - ball is snapped and Tate runs a shallow drag. Hasselbeck is pressured, but steps up into the pocket and lobs it to Tate who is now past the right hashmark running to the right sideline. Tate grabs the pass, immediately sheds a tackler with a nifty spin move (his bread and butter move I'm seeing over and over) and turns downfield for 12 yards. A good play by the rookie, but not enough for the first down.
(15:00 2nd Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete deep left to G.Tate. (3rd and 24)
Another one of the infamous fade routes - but this time on 3rd down. It turns out to not be that bad of a call as Tate almost reels it in over/behind his defender, but goes for the one-handed catch and just barely misses it. It's hard to tell if he really needed to use only one hand- but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because it would have been a difficult catch anyway. Too bad, it would have been a first down and possibly momentum shifter.
(:28 2nd Q) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete deep right to G.Tate (J.Ware). (2nd and 2)
3WR set, Tate out right. It's another deep sideline fade to Golden, and he actually goes up high and over the corner and makes the catch nicely but lands with one heel just barely out of bounds. Another play where you can see the potential but he just doesn't quite put it together.
The next play...
(:23) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass incomplete short right to G.Tate. (3rd and 2)
3 WR set again, Tate out right. Oakland shows blitz and Hass audibles, motioning to Tate. The ball is snapped and Tate runs a 5 yard curl,... and Hass throws it to the sideline, seemingly anticipating a out-route, or fade possibly. They're obviously not on the same page either way and their drive is stalled. My guess is this is Golden's fault but who knows.
(8:25 3rd Q) M.Hasselbeck pass deep left to G.Tate pushed ob at OAK 43 for 24 yards (J.Ware). SEA-G.Tate was injured during the play. His return is Probable. (2nd and 13)
2 WR set this time with Michael Robinson and Marshawn Lynch in the backfield in an offset I-formation. The play is a deep fade again to the left - apparently the fade is Tate's specialty, he must just WORK corners on the fade routes in practice or something because it seems like it's the only thing they ever throw him - and Tate again goes up high over his defender to reel in the pass. On the landing he gruesomely tweaks his ankle though and leaves the game. A really impressive catch nonetheless.
Amazingly, Tate comes back into the game in the 4th Quarter - really showing a toughness and determination to get in there. They throw him two more fades, because that's the only play Jeremy Bates has written up for Golden Tate apparently, the first time he's being marked by Nnamdi Asomugha and the pass sails high out of bounds, the second time Tate makes an over the shoulder catch over Asomugha but apparently steps on the sideline. Again, close, but no cigar. Story of the game for Tate.
Hopefully this gives you a bit of a refresher on Golden Tate. I sort of forgot about him a little bit during the latter part of the season after being really exciting initially. It was fun to go back and watch some of the tape though because he's clearly an exciting player to watch - albeit an inconsistent one. Overall though, I'm excited to see how Carroll and Bevell see him in the offense and if they can incorporate him into it more in 2011.
If they expect him to be precise in his route-running this could be an issue, but if they figure out ways to incorporate him into the offense in ways that fit his strengths, good things could happen.