Eagles’ Doug Pederson Disappointed By Nelson Agholor’s Postgame Comments
The locker room comments made by Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor following Philadelphia’s frustrating loss to the Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of attention on Monday morning.
“At the end of the day, that shit means nothing,” Agholor told reporters via TCN. “You just got to make the next one. Everybody runs routes. Sometimes they’re contested, sometimes you drop them. But if you make as many as you possibly can that come your way, you’ll put yourself in a good position. No one’s perfect.”
“I don’t look at no drops, none of that type of shit. I’m tired of hearing that shit. That shit is stupid. We play football. I mean, I dropped the first one, I ain’t drop one after that. What does it matter? ‘Cause if we lose, now it’s like we’re gonna place blame on ‘Oh, this person did this.’ No. As a team, we have a responsibility to win football games, and I get it. Certain plays could have helped. But there’s still four quarters of football to be played, and we’ve got to win.”
“You heard it from me, I don’t got time for that no more, man. I got time to win football games only. No statistics, no who did this. Win. That’s all that matters. That’s what this coaching staff cares about. That’s what I care about. That’s what we all care about. Winning football games.”
Agholor dropped a key pass in the red zone on fourth down early in the game. Had Agholor made the catch, the Eagles likely would have had been in a 1st-and-goal situation.
Agholor on drops: "I'm tired of hearing that shit. It's stupid … I dropped the 1st one. I ain't drop one after that. What does it matter?" pic.twitter.com/aX7AXFXFRy
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) October 31, 2016
Agholor’s comments did not sit well with Doug Pederson.
“We’re disappointed, I’m disappointed in the type of comments,” said the Eagles’ head coach. “I think each individual has to be responsible for their own job, obviously. We’ve got to make good, smart choices. Everybody’s mad and disappointed and angry after tough losses like we just came through. Cooler heads prevail. We just have to bite our lip sometimes and suck it up and get to work. That’s what we’ve got to do this week.”
Agholor’s word choice is hardly the biggest issue with the 23-year-old wide receiver. The bigger problem is that the Eagles aren’t getting any kind of good production of their 2015 first-round pick. As a rookie, Agholor only had 23 receptions for 283 yards and one touchdown last season. Through six games this year, he’s been targeted 36 times for 21 receptions, 216 yards, and one score. There are 110 NFL players with more receiving yards this year.
The harsh reality is Agholor has really never shown much promise. After struggling as a rookie, he completely failed to stand out in offseason workouts this spring and summer. Agholor doesn’t even contribute on special teams. He’s not giving the Eagles any kind of value right now. Despite this, he’s played the second most snaps of any Eagles receiver this year. There’s a strong case to be made for that to change moving forward. A benching or demotion should not be out of the question.
While Agholor is clearly a big problem for the Eagles’ offense, it’s not like he’s the only one. The Eagles sorely lack talent at the receiver position. Philadelphia’s pass catchers (a liberal definition) finished with six drops against Dallas.
Despite rumors that the Eagles are still interested in trading for a receiver, Pederson once again denied Philadelphia is looking to make a deal.
“As far as I know, we’re not making any moves,” said Pederson. “The guys we have are the guys we have. We’re going to continue to work and get better at that position.”
PEDERSON TALKS ABOUT HIS BIGGEST REGRET
Pederson already addressed his questionable decision-making in the Cowboys game during his postgame press conference, but the Eagles head coach was grilled about the same situations again on Monday. Pederson talked about his biggest regret of the game.
“You know, if there’s anything in this game I look at and point a finger at for myself, it would probably be the play in the first quarter on the fourth down,” said Pederson. “We kicked the field goal, we got the roughing, it would have put us at a 4th-and-1. It would have been a situation there, possibly at the 7-yard line, to go for it. Whether you make the 4th-and-1 or not, you keep the drive alive or they get the ball at the 7-yard line and have to go the distance. I look at those plays and I need to evaluate those for my own standpoint.”
Pederson’s lack of aggression in that situation was odd given his penchant to go for it on fourth down earlier this season. But it’s weird to think that was his biggest mistake given the situation in the fourth quarter where the Eagles drew up a pass to Darren Sproles that took them out of comfortable field goal range. Pederson said he did not regret this decision, and instead he doubled down on it.
“Well, in the first quarter obviously, and really both of those situations, were decisions that — first of all, if I would have gone for it, if we would have accepted that penalty and gone for it, and possibly make the 4th-and-1 there, seven points over three makes it different in that situation,” said Pederson. “First quarter, there’s maybe less stress or whatever. It’s the first quarter of a ball game and kind of sets the tone early.
“The 3rd-and-8 play, I look at that and I looked at it again this morning, looked at again on the plane last night, and I would have called the same thing again. It’s assignment football. It’s one of our basic fundamental plays that we ripped the entire season in a man situation which we got. It just comes down to assignment. And we busted one assignment and a negative play happened. So we have to look at it. We have to own up. It starts with me, obviously. And then each man on the team has to own up to their responsibility and own up so those negative plays don’t happen again.”
The problem with writing that play off as “assignment football” is that the Eagles asked Jason Kelce, who was noticeably limping throughout the game, to sprint out and block the Cowboys’ best defender, Sean Lee. And designing a play with a backwards pass didn’t help matters, though Pederson denied that was an issue.
“You guys know football, come on,” he said. “Any play has the ability to go backwards, whether it’s a run, a pass, a sack, in those situations. I know where we were on the field. It is a relatively safe football play. It gets Darren Sproles out in space in a man coverage look that we have the ability to run some interference on some linebackers, i.e. Sean Lee who made the play. We didn’t run the interference like we were supposed to. So I’ve got to coach that play better. I’ve got to coach that play better. We make that play, we’re inside the 20-yard line with a 1st-and-10. Or at worst, you’re kicking the field goal at a lot closer than what happened.”
Even given the failure of that third down play, the Eagles still a chance to attempt a 53-yard field goal. Caleb Sturgis had nailed a 55-yarder earlier in the game. But Pederson elected to punt instead.
“That was another one where I felt too that where we were defensively was beginning to kind of catch their legs and they had momentum and we had stopped them,” said Pederson. “We were stopping their run game. Outside of the first quarter, [Ezekiel] Elliott had like 12 rushes in the second, 12 yards in the third, like 14th in the fourth so we were doing a great job in the run game. So I was trusting the my defense in that situation and to pin them back in the 15 at the 10, I felt real comfortable in that decision.”
Once again, Pederson’s logic is hard to follow. If he truly felt so great about the Eagles’ defense, why wouldn’t he trust them after a missed field goal attempt? Punting meant making life easier on the Eagles’ defense. But why the need to make things easier if the confidence was there?
Pederson continued to use the line about being confident in his defense when he explained why he didn’t use a timeout to stop the clock after Connor Barwin sacked Dak Prescott to force 3rd-and-20 at the Cowboys’ 18-yard line with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“I went back again today and looked at that,” said Pederson. “I felt if, doing the math on everything, and you burn two timeouts in those situations, you might get the ball back with 15 seconds and one timeout and have to go 30, 35 yards to kick the field goal possibly in that situation. But again, I was relying on the fact our defense was playing extremely well at the time. We were starting to put pressure on Dak those last couple of possessions that they had. I was fully confident in our team going to overtime that we were going to win the game.”
It’s far from a guarantee the Eagles would have been able to muster a scoring opportunity if the Cowboys were forced into fourth down and had to punt. But it would have been a non-zero chance compared to Pederson taking the possibility entirely off the board.
So far, Pederson has coached more good games than bad ones. But there’s no denying his decision-making against Dallas was highly questionable and had a big part in costing the Eagles a game they could have won.
EAGLES INJURY UPDATE
Pederson described Allen Barbre (hamstring), Kamu Grugier-Hill (hamstring), and Taylor Hart (ankle) as week-to-week. Barbre suffered his injury during the first quarter of the Eagles-Cowboys game. If he can’t play, the Birds will move forward with veteran Stefen Wisniewski at left guard.
In what could be described as good news for the Eagles, starting defensive tackle Bennie Logan (groin) is set to return to practice this week. Pederson said Logan is feeling much better but might be limited.
Chris Maragos (hamstring), Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), Mychal Kendricks (ribs), Jordan Matthews (knee), and Carson Wentz (calf) are all expected to be full go on Wednesday. Wentz wasn’t listed on last week’s injury report but Pederson revealed he got hit in the calf during the Vikings game.