Golden Tate Could Have a Big Day Returning Punts

Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate (81) celebrates a touchdown by a teammate against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

 

Thirteen games into the season there is a fairly compelling argument to made that Golden Tate is having his best year ever. With three games still remaining he has already set a career high in both catches and yards. Although he has not found the endzone as often as he did last year, he has really stepped into the breach after Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin went down. The comparison between Golden Tate last year and this year looks like this:

Year Receptions Yards Yards/Reception Receptions/Game Yards/Game Touchdowns
2012

45

688

15.3

3

45.9

7

2013

52

710

13.7

4

54.6

4

 

By the end of the year the gap between these two lines will be substantial and Golden Tate will be on the way to a fat new contract. While this is important it’s not what interests me today. Today, I thought I’d look at one factor that is making Golden Tate’s 2013 season a special one: his punt returning. The chart below shows what Tate has done on punt returns so far this year:

Returns

Fair Catches

Yards

Yards/Return

Long

Touchdowns

39

8

467

12.0

71

0

 

Tate ranks 7th in the league in yards per return with his more than respectable 12.0 average, but that understates his value. In fact, Golden Tate ranks second in pure yardage, 108 yards ahead of the guy in third, Tandon Doss of the Ravens, due to the fact he very rarely takes the fair catch. Tate is always looking to get his team yards, even if it’s only a couple, and that’s part of what makes him so valuable returning punts.

Golden Tate showed an aptitude for returning punts in his rookie season in 2010 but he has never held the job full time until now. The presence of Leon Washington always kept Tate exclusively at receiver, which is unfortunate given what he has to offer as a return man. Now that he has his chance he’s running with it and this week looks like he’ll have the opportunity to make some big plays. It’s interesting to consider how the following line compares to the fact the Seahawks have allowed only 15 punt return yards all season. This is what the Giants have allowed on punt returns in 2013:

Returns

Fair Catches

Yards

Yards/Return

Long

Touchdowns

35

11

508

14.5

89

3

 

Numbers like that will get a special teams coordinator fired. Additionally, they should mean that Golden Tate will have a crease or two to work with. Hopefully this isn’t the kind of game that is close enough that to turn on a big punt return, but it’s good to know that there could be a chance for Golden Tate to make some magic happen if he needs to.

Topics: Golden Tate

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