ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Golden Tate doesn’t think of himself as anything other than a No. 1 receiver. He has been that way since college, when he teamed with Michael Floyd, and it continued in the NFL in Seattle and then in Detroit when the Lions had Calvin Johnson.
With Johnson retired and Marvin Jones signed, it’d seem like Tate would be the player who could slide into that theoretical No. 1 receiver role. He might, but it is not like he’s approaching it any differently.
“I’ve never seen myself as a No. 2 receiver and I’ve said it before, I don’t care if I was playing with Jerry Rice or Cris Carter, that’s just not how I see myself and that’s how I’m driven,” Tate said. “I’m coming in with intensity high, trying to help set a standard and win ball games.
“I think, I don’t want to get caught up too much in the one or the two, I just want to win games. I think we all have the same things in common; we want to win games.”
That hasn’t come easy in Detroit throughout the franchise’s history. The Lions have one of the worst overall records in the Super Bowl era, have yet to make an appearance in the season’s final game and have one playoff win in the past 58 years.
But Tate sees an opportunity. In getting to know Jones, Tate believes the Lions found a player who can fit in with the rest of the offense as the Lions try to replace the production of Johnson.
“Now, we’re just going to start building the empire,” Tate said. “Building something great.”
Building the empire? In Detroit? Where the aforementioned losing and mediocrity has reigned for the majority of the past six decades? Yep, that’s Tate’s plan. He believes the Lions have the pieces to do it as well.
When Tate arrived in 2014, the Lions had one of the best seasons in franchise history, going 11-5 and making the playoffs. It left expectations high for 2015 and Detroit faltered, starting the season 1-7 before finishing 7-9. The first half of last season was one of the toughest for Tate during his career.
So what does he mean by building the empire? It means expecting to win games, not hoping to win them. Tate said that means more than just winning actual games – it starts with how the franchise prepares during the week. Tate pointed to the franchise’s new weight room, the tiny additions to the locker room and other changes in the training area. He also believes everyone from Quinn and team president Rod Wood down to the equipment staff need to be moving at the same pace in the same mindset.
That, he said, will help everything in expecting to win instead of merely hoping wins will come.
“That’s a mentality that I think as an organization we need, as a state, as a city we need,” Tate said. “That we’re afraid of no one. That we’re going into every game thinking we have a good chance to win or even blow them out.
“That’s just kind of the mentality that we want to have here and we’re just trying to put the pieces together and I think guys can see that.”