Is Eagles WR Nelson Agholor primed for a big game against one of the NFL’s best defenses?

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The Denver secondary has become the standard of which every team wants to replicate. With Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, and Bradley Roby continuing to get better as the year’s go by, the Bronco’s esteemed group of cornerbacks only grows more intimidating by the week. So far, the Philadelphia Eagles have been able to pick apart secondaries throughout the league with the help of needle-threader, Carson Wentz. But the Eagles are yet to face a Defense this tenacious…and that could prove problematic given their wide receiver situation.

Nobody can question the impact Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith have had on the Eagles offense. Their ability to draw attention has helped open up the playbook and rip the top off of opposing defenses consistently. In fact, they can take some responsibility for the emphatic season’s enjoyed by Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, who have combined for 11 touchdowns alone in 8 games. But the fact remains that apart from the occasional burst, both Jeffery and Smith have been kept under wraps.

Denver’s pass defense is coming off of a game where they limited Kansas City to just 202 passing yards, with their leading wide receiver that game, Tyreek Hill, putting up just 38 yards. Forcing traffic inside hasn’t been a problem for the Broncos and if the Eagles wideouts continue to draw attention and be smothered at the line of scrimmage, we can expect the same again.

This focuses all eyes onto the matchups over the middle. Zach Ertz and his historic season will be called upon plenty throughout the game, but what was once Denver’s best kept secret, will now line up against the Eagles’ biggest underdog. Denver is an incredibly versatile team and cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Chris Harris have the ability to move inside, or outside at any moment…giving offensive coordinators headaches.

For Nelson Agholor, this has been a season of resurgence. Last year, the USC product caught 36 passes for 365 yards and 2 touchdowns. Through the opening half of this season, Agholor has 27 catches for 392 yards and 5 scores. The difference is remarkable and the confidence and swagger expressed on the field is just a joy to watch. The Broncos are a team that will look to strip that from Agholor, reducing him to his bare receiver instincts and trying to get in his head with psychological warfare. Luckily for the Eagles, this isn’t the first time that he’s experienced such a challenge.

The Jenkins Judgement: Carolina may have been Nelson Agholor’s toughest test yet and he passed with flying colors

After being thrown around and picked on by Carolina, Agholor responded in the way only a dominant wide receiver could, with an explosive touchdown. It’s clear that the mentality of the third-year receiver is completely different to what it was 12 months ago.

“His confidence. Definitely his confidence.” Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz told reporters after Agholor’s big touchdown against Washington. “Just kind of everyone around him, instilling that confidence in him. I think last year, those were some things, we always knew he had the physical abilities, just sometimes his confidence would waiver. Just bringing in some other guys, kind of taking some pressure off and just letting him go out and play. We are all just really happy for him because he is one of the hardest working guys we have ever been around.”

Even better news for the Eagles, is that Agholor’s problem has never been a lack of route-running or creating separation. Now that the wideout is simply flourishing under Doug Pederson, those traits are only amplified. If Roby or Harris try to get physical and disrupt Agholor’s routes, they only leave themselves open to some nifty footwork and potential blown coverages from one of the cleanest route-runners in the league.

The Broncos have done a brilliant job in marginalizing the pass this year, but against both the Chiefs and the Chargers, there were worrying lapses. Keenan Allen had his way with Bradley Roby while Travis Kelce put on a clinic to keep Big Red’s offense moving.

The Eagles cornerbacks have been so disciplined this year, mainly due to Schwartz playing his corners from off-coverage in order to give them a cushion to work with and time to dissect routes and use their instincts to cut up the play. Denver have a lot more confidence in their DB’s…something which is a blessing and a curse.

If Agholor can win the start of the route and get into his stem cleanly, he has a huge advantage against Denver. The Broncos will be placing all eyes on the threats outside and a new revamped backfield, giving both Ertz and Agholor a chance to shine. With a new mentality and an ability to stay composed under pressure and when defense try to throw him off his wave, Agholor is primed for a big game against one of the league’s best defenses, validating his resurgence once and for all.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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