Eagles Wake-Up Call: Evaluating Agholor
Asked about Nelson Agholor‘s slow start, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur pointed to the early portion of Jordan Matthews‘ rookie campaign to help explain why it’s premature to be overly concerned.
“I think there’s a lot of similarities to his game if you compare it to Jordan Matthews a year ago,” he said. “You know, he was kind of grinding it out and we were all asking questions, ‘When is it going to happen? When is it going to happen?’ And boom, he had a game where he had a good bunch of production.”
To Shurmur’s point, Matthews was held to three catches on eight targets in his first two games. The breakout occurred in Week 3 against Washington — this week’s opponent. Matthews had eight catches for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns to kickstart what proved to be a very productive rookie year.
“I think Nelson can do even better than me,” said Matthews. “I’m not going to sit here and say that you can honestly pay attention to numbers in the three games and make crazy assumptions. It’s so early, and I think once we get going as a whole offense, that’s going to help him out more.”
Thus far, it hasn’t been pretty. The first-round pick out of USC has been targeted 11 times through three games, per Pro Football Focus, and has just four catches for 36 yards with a drop. While there are other factors at work here — like the inconsistent play of Sam Bradford — that’s not much production, particularly considering that he has been on the field for 83 percent of the offensive snaps.
Agholor, who squared off against Darrelle Revis Sunday, was targeted four times in the Meadowlands but did not come away with a catch.
“He did a great job covering me and I tried to compete for four quarters. I think at the end of the day I held my own in terms of competition,” he said.
“At the end of the game he looked at me and said, ‘Keep working. You’re going to be fine.’ And I was happy about that.”
While acknowledging that his play has not lived up to his standards, Agholor believes that more goes into the proper evaluation of a receiver than simply looking at the stat line.
“We will critique it with a certain eye. Others look at it a different way. It’s always about the flash,” said Agholor. “For us, it’s greater than execution, it’s the effort, the preparation, the whole process. That’s how we look at things. If a guy prepared all week, gave great effort when he is running routes whether [or not] he was thrown the ball, things like that, whether the result is a completion or not, you look at it differently. For everybody else that’s looking at it, it’s just the end result that they see; they don’t see the whole picture. So that’s what we’re concerned with, is the whole picture.”
So how does he see things?
“We’re close. We’re really close. I felt like a lot of guys got separation, I felt like Sam [Bradford] made great decisions; he was rushed in certain situations and he tried to make the best play he could. We got a win, that was the best part, and we have to build on that.”
The pressure for Agholor to perform right out the chute has been heightened by the lack of output from Josh Huff (4 catches, 39 yards), Riley Cooper (3 catches, 25 yards) and Miles Austin (2 catches, 22 yards). The Eagles need someone to make plays on the outside and Agholor seems like the best bet despite the early struggles. The 22-year old is trusting that the results will come.
“This is my first year in the league, and all I know is that the game of football is a process-driven deal,” he said. “So we’re going to to go out here every day, we’re going to get better, and we’re going to continue to have the same habits, and soon a nice product is going to be put out there.”
Added Matthews: “Nelson’s going out there and doing his thing. He’s blocking well in the run game, he’s getting open, and I know when those balls finally start coming to him, he’s going to make the play. I’m not worried about him at all. It’s so early. I think by the end of the season, Nelson can do way better than me.”
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Sielski writes that Bradford hasn’t yet justified Chip Kelly‘s move.
The question that Kelly has to weigh, of course, is whether Bradford really will grind his way through these struggles. It is too early for Kelly to consider replacing Bradford with Sanchez, not after three games, and remember: By trading for Bradford, Kelly acknowledged that he didn’t believe Sanchez was capable of leading the Eagles to a championship.
But there’s no getting around this: Sanchez can do what Bradford has done. Last season, he did more. He can complete short-to-intermediate routes. He can keep the offense rolling at the fast pace Kelly prefers. He can even run the zone-read from time to time. That doesn’t make him a great quarterback, just better than the one Bradford has been so far.
DeMeco Ryans wants the Eagles to reach a Jim Johnson-like level on defense this season, writes CSN Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank.
The Eagles aren’t quite there. Not yet. But it’s been an auspicious first three games for this newly constructed defense.
Over the last six halves, they’ve allowed only 36 points and four touchdowns.
“It is starting to turn,” Ryans said. “As a defense, we’re starting to get more greedy. We want to be known as an aggressive defense. We’re kind of selfish, the fact that everybody talks about our offense and their tempo, how many plays they’re going to run, ‘You guys are on the field too much.’
“For us, it’s like defense, we have to stand up and make a statement. Let’s start creating more turnovers. Cutting down X-plays. Playing the run well. And start to keep points off the board and then people will start noticing our defense more.”
Kelly will address the media at 11:45 prior to practice. An All-22 on Bradford ahead.
Adam Hermann contributed to this post.