Is Nelson Agholor a product of poor player development within the Eagles coaching staff? Let’s do some math. In 2016, Coach Doug Pederson was hired and brought along OC Frank Reich and QB Coach John DeFilippo to join him. After that, the team did anything possible to draft Carson Wentz. It took multiple trades, the selling of someone’s soul (who has yet to be named), and a little creativity to jump up to the number two spot in the draft.
Fast forward a few months and the team was full of young players who just couldn’t cut it. The only players remaining from that receiving group is Nelson Agholor and the recently re-signed Jordan Matthews. Agholor had a down year that season as his inability to consistently catch the ball haunted him all year.
In 2017, the Eagles added two veteran receivers in Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. Automatically that pushed Agholor down the totem pole while it pushed Matthews off the roster and into Buffalo. It was a career year for Nelson Agholor, who was moved into the slot role while Smith and Jeffery manned the outside positions. The Eagles also brought in Mike Groh to be the new wide receivers coach, a change the brought in plenty of excitement in addition to the new talent.
Groh helped bring out the best in Nelson Agholor as the young Eagles wideout caught 62 passes out of 95 targets for a career-high 768 receiving yards. That doubled his total from the two previous seasons and he even caught 8 touchdown passes. In 2018, Groh was promoted to offensive coordinator after Reich’s deparutre and things started to slip offensively.
Nelly saw nearly the same amount of targets, 97, with almost the same amount of receptions, 64. This year, Agholor is on pace to record less than 700 yards and currently has a catch percentage of 57%. As compared to the previous two seasons where he caught 66% of his targets.
So what’s happened?!
“In 2017 he was really able to really just kind of stay in one spot each and every week.” Mike Groh said. “We were healthy the entire year and we had the same three, four guys rotating and performing the same job.
His job description has changed over the last couple years due to necessity, and I understand the question, but to me he’s still the same player.”
The Eagles currently exemplify poor development due to the lack of growth of multiple receivers. Mack Hollins has played over 386 snaps this season and only has 10 receptions to show for it but if you ask WR coach Carson Walch, he’ll tell you that, “he’s one of our top graders every week”.
I’m not going to lie, the statement alone makes me fearful about what’s going on behind the scenes. Throw the grades out the window, as a receiver you’re supposed to align correctly, assign correctly and play with great effort. That’s something you’re taught as a kid. There’s one thing that missing from this statement and it shows on the field. As a receiver, your main job, your main objective is to make plays. Everything else is a given at this point in your career.
The lack of push, fire, and awareness by the Eagles coaching staff is beyond alarming at this stage of the season. Why has it taken this long for anyone to try and fix this offense? Why was there never a backup plan for DeSean Jackson? Why is Alshon’s back up seeing the field less than Mack Hollins after showing out in the preseason?
There are too many questions at this point in the season and for the organization’s sake, there has to be a feeling of embarrassment right now. Michael Thomas has more catches and receiving yards than every Eagles wide receiver combined, and that’s worrying.
Instead of cross-training Arcega-Whiteside, they need to learn from the mistakes of Agholor. Agholor started his career as an outside receiver and failed terribly. He flourished as the slot receiver and now he’s struggling in the same system that he broke out in. Is that not mind-boggling?
The terrifying part is that these kind of questions can be applied to every wide receiver on the roster. From Alshon’s regression to the DeSean Jackson injury saga, this season has been nothing short of a mess.
There’s a disconnect between the staff and players that everyone on the outside sees. The only question is just how long will everyone on the inside continue to play Russian roulette with reality?
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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