It’s been a week of uncertainty for Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor. It still hasn’t been confirmed whether or not he will even dress in tonights game against the Packers, following a poor performance against the Seahawks and a press conference that shed some light on the battles he’s facing. Benching Agholor entirely would send a very strong message, but perhaps not the right one. Besides..if there’s one scenario where Agholor can shine, it’s this one.
In leaving Agholor on the sidelines, the Eagles would be making a clear point. Form matters. The Eagles receiver has only received for 264 yards and one touchdown this season, while struggling with drops and other errors. Doug Pederson told the media repeatedly that the actions this week, including a “private conversation” with the USC product along with talks with sports psychiatrists are to help Nelson Agholor the person, not the player.
Benching him outright in that regard may seem like a way to let him overcome what’s going on inside his head and step away from the pressure and spotlight of a Monday Night game..but it’s also even harder to come back from. Knowing that you’ve been pulled from the lineup in favor of an undrafted rookie as a consequence of an inability to perform is a tough pill to swallow, no matter how you look at it.
Pederson’s best bet would be to perhaps take some of the weight off of Agholor’s shoulders and simply rotate him around, just as he began to do with Josh Huff at the start of the year.
This is still a very young Eagles team..and the receiving corps is captained by Jordan Matthews in what’s only his third season. It’s the team’s first year under Doug Pederson and there is still a lot to figure out..wide receivers included. This would be the perfect chance to move some pieces around and see what works and what doesn’t.
Instead of flat out depriving Agholor of a chance to overcome his demons, why not help him? The addition of Paul Turner to the active roster doesn’t have to be seen as a negative here.
Agholor was primarily a slot receiver at USC and relied on as a possession player. The general consensus is that if Paul Turner plays, the Eagles will move Jordan Matthews outside..meaning that 5’10 Turner can work better inside as his height won’t be the main attribute relied upon.
At 6’0, Agholor has spent the majority of his time in Philadelphia playing outside, while a much bigger Jordan Matthews has thrived in the slot..but has proved he can make plays outside. Would it not make sense to give Agholor, who is just an inch taller than undrafted rookie Paul Turner, a shot on the inside? All it would take is a few simple short catches over the middle and some open space for him to find a resurgence in confidence. Benching him, revokes that possibility entirely.
Having both Agholor and Turner on the sidelines would add an element of unpredictability for the Eagles. It’s very hard to find NFL tape on Paul Turner, as he only played in preseason for the Eagles, leading the NFL in receiving yards. But if the Packers are expecting him to play..they’ll focus even less on Nelson Agholor and what moves may potentially be surrounding him.
If there is ever a chance for Doug Pederson to dive deep into his creative playbook, it’s now. If they sideline Nelson Agholor, it may well just close the curtains on his 2016 season, knowing that it’s a long way back from the bottom..especially if Turner has a good game.
Agholor may have one lifeline left..but if the Eagles decide to roll the dice again and line him up on the inside, we may finally see a glimpse of the receiver many hoped he would become. It’s not the Doug Pederson nor the Philly way to give up on a player..and there’s no better time to cement that culture than against the Packers in a national spotlight.