The Eagles were firing on all cylinders in the Thursday Night Football win over Carolina. A ruthless Defense was supported by a a balanced effort on the other side, but through all the big plays and even bigger hits was one performance that has gone severely underrated.
Nelson Agholor has had a phenomenal start to his first season in the slot, catching 4 touchdown passes on 20 receptions…something which in itself is staggering. In fact, the USC product has caught more passes through the opening six games of the season than he has in his first two years combined. The mental hurdles Agholor has overcome aren’t easy things for any human, let alone an NFL athlete. To see a new level of confidence in his game is just exciting to watch…but he was tested against the Panthers.
The game started off in a disappointing way for Agholor. The slot receiver dropped his first target of the night on a slant. Even though the ball was thrown behind the wideout, this was a catchable pass.
Just like he did with Zach Ertz however, Wentz decided to go right back to the third-year wide receiver. Agholor hauled this one in with ease and turned around to try and push for extra yards. It was a great decision from Carson Wentz to ensure the confidence levels remain high, but a nice break by Agholor to push Captain Munnrerlyn backwards and create a window.
Maybe Munnerlyn didn’t take too kindly to Agholor’s antics, but tensions began to rise. Just a few minutes later, Agholor blocked the veteran nickel corner to help pave open a run. Munnerlyn responded by shoving Agholor back after the play died. The Eagles wideout threw Munnerlyn’s arm off him but was cooled down by the Panthers defensive captain. This was going to be a game of mental toughness. The Panthers were beginning to sense penalty fueled confidence and like when Janoris Jenkins did the same to Dorial Green-Beckham last year, this was going to be something Agholor had to deal with in the appropriate way.
On the very next play, Agholor was targeted again and found himself working to the other side of the field. Wentz overthrew the ball, but Munnerlyn was draped all over his assignment. Agholor did well to meet the contact with agility, but it wasn’t enough to create the separation needed against such a smart corner.
The battle had officially begun…and it was only going to intensify. A little later in the game, Colin Jones decided to give Agholor a chip over the middle on a run play. Nothing overly dirty, but it was arguably unnecessary. Agholor walked it off and nothing more came of it, but it was clear at this point that the Panthers were trying to take Agholor out of his zone and isolate him.
The glass only polished as time went on. At the start of the second half, Agholor was thrown to the ground by Ben Jacobs. The roughness was beginning to become more frequent. But again, Agholor continued on completely unfazed.
They say you should let sleeping Dog’s lie…and Nelson Agholor was just waiting for one more poke. One more prod. One more sign that he’s going to burn them in a way only he knows how…by bursting through a favorable matchup against a linebacker for a stunning 24-yard touchdown.
Aggy put on the afterburners and made a statement. He was patient in the face of adversity and didn’t rise to any of the pokes and prods that Carolina intently decided to try and antagonize him with. For a receiver to remain so calm and composed just one year removed from having to pluck up the courage to tell the world he had to get out of his own head, Agholor had the kind of performance that separates the men from the boys.
Agholor isn’t just producing statistically, but he’s so mentally tough that he’s now able to withstand the type of on-the-field action that may have made him wobble just one year ago. The rise of Nelson Agholor is upon us…and we’re all just witnesses.
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports