No Alshon Jeffery, no Mack Hollins. Nick Foles limped into the season opener with his band of merry men bearing the burden of a shortened offseason and a lack of preseason chemistry. If the Eagles were going to walk out of week 1 with a win, somebody had to step up. The Falcons linebackers were glued to Zach Ertz all game long and with the run game smothered from the beginning, options and time were running out. Atlanta was very quickly reminded about a receiver that they are now all too familiar with, Nelson Agholor.
Agholor has been kept quiet during his last two outings against the Falcons, but a combination of versatility and development ensured that it would be third time lucky for the USC product. From throwing the now iconic ‘Philly Philly’ pass, to escaping on a 16 yard rush and leading the group of wideouts in receiving yards, Agholor showed just how high his ceiling really is.
“I’ve been really impressed with Nelson and his work ethic and his drive and motivation to really excel, not only at this level but also with his craft, being a skilled receiver.” His Head coach said after the game. “It was evident tonight that our confidence in him and my confidence in him is unbelievable, it’s extremely high. Being able to move him inside and outside now and find unique ways to get him the football. He’s very explosive with the ball in his hand. My hats off to him the way he’s worked the last couple of seasons to put himself in this position.”
Last year, Agholor tore up the NFL in the slot, enjoying the breakout season fans had been pining for since his arrival. But with a. complete lack of depth, Agholor was forced back outside to try and spread the field in the same vein as Alshon Jeffery. His presence and performance were both applauded by the quarterback who targeted him more than anyone not named Zach Ertz combined.
“Nelson is a great receiver.” Nick Foles stated. “He is a guy I have a lot of trust in. He does a great job of getting open. A lot of times, too, it’s just going through my progressions and just getting the ball to him, getting to him. But yea, I think it was more just going through my plays and he finds a way to get open.”
The transition back onto an Island was not something many were expecting, but it makes sense. DeAndre Carter’s inclusion on the team gave the Eagles some extra optionality in the slot, enabling Agholor to take his improved route-running abilities back outside and terrorize the Falcons secondary.
“I had fun.” The former first-round pick told reporters. “It’s about getting open. I had a great time playing outside. Wherever I can be to help this team win football games, that’s what I want to do. I don’t just want to be an outside receiver. And I don’t want to just be a slot receiver. I want to be a wide receiver that makes an impact. In the run game. In the passing game. However else I need to do it.”
Agholor had the most receptions of anybody on the team, becoming a security blanket for Nick Foles. But when the defense as neutralizing any gain the Eagles made, it called for some out of the box thinking. Agholor is no stranger to sweeps and screens, just ask Dan Quinn. Agholor had 2 rushes for 20 yards against Atlanta back in January and Pederson wanted more of the same. So, in the fourth quarter, the Super Bowl winning Head Coach gave his wideout another chance to shine.
“I like that a lot.” Agholor said. “I like getting tosses and handoffs because I played tailback in high school. That’s where I have the most fun and creativity. At the end of the day, just great blocking by the offensive lineman and the receivers on the edge. And I was able to set up and get some more.”
It may only be one week, but the fact that Agholor can transition outside and make up for a huge loss in the Eagles offense is extremely impressive. No longer limited to his comfort zone, this could be the year in which Nelson Agholor becomes the X-Factor that Howie Roseman drafted him to be.
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