By: Will Burchfield
Most wide receivers in the NFL would be thrilled to surpass 90 catches and 1,000 yards in a single season.
Not Golden Tate.
“I guess to some it might be impressive, but looking back at last year, I didn’t have the year that I expected, the year that I wanted,” Tate said after day two of the Lions offseason workouts on Tuesday. “I kind of hold myself to a higher standard.”
After a slow start to the 2016 season, Tate rallied to post 91 receptions for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns. 635 of those yards came after the catch, the fourth highest mark in the league.
“I wouldn’t say it was a terrible year, just want to be a little bit better in a lot of areas of my game and help this organization out a little bit more. If that’s two more wins, one more win, whatever it may be, I want to do that,” said Tate. “Numbers wise, a lot of guys would be okay with 90-plus catches and 1,000 yards, but I’m looking for more. I want more — more wins, first and foremost.”
The Lions finished 9-7 last season, qualifying for the playoffs for the second time in Tate’s three-year tenure in Detroit. But they struggled out of the gate as Tate did the same. Through four games, Tate had just 14 catches for 95 yards and the Lions had just one win. Both parties woke up from that point on.
So what did Tate learn reflecting on his 2016 season?
“I would just say to worry about the things that I can control – how I show up to work every day, the effort I give, the leadership I provide – and everything’s going to work out. That’s probably the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s real. I had an okay season the way I see it, but want to be a lot better for this organization and for my teammates.”
That will begin in the one area where Lions receivers struggled across the board in 2016.
“Coach (Caldwell) pointed it out yesterday [among the] things that we need to do better: drops. We had a problem with drops last year and that’s not in our DNA, that’s not who we are and it’s kind of embarrassing,” Tate said. “So that’s one thing that I personally want to work on, is catching the ball — since that is my job.”
Lions receivers dropped 28 passes in 2016, the third most in the league. Tate was only responsible for four of those drops, but that was his highest single-season total in his seven-year career.
“I think we’re all hungry just to be a little bit better. If that’s one percent or ten percent, whatever it may be, just be better than you were yesterday. Again, we don’t need anybody to be a superhero…play fundamental football, hang onto the ball, be efficient and we’re going to be just fine,” Tate said.
“We’re close,” he added. “I really think we’re very, very close to being a really good team, consistently, year in and year out.”
Tate, of course, has been a model of consistency since arriving in Detroit in 2014. He is one of only four receivers in the NFL to have at least 90 receptions and 800 yards each of the past three seasons. The others? Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Demaryius Thomas.
But in sizing up the past, Tate is looking for more out of the future.