November 02, 2016
One of the most uncomfortable situations for any professional athlete in all of these United States is to play in the city of Philadelphia with a target on your back.
It is even more uncomfortable when you play for the home team. And it is infinitely more uncomfortable when you paint the target on your own back.
Welcome to the new world of Nelson Agholor.
The Eagles wide receiver painted the ugly boo target on his back very late Sunday night into Monday morning after the loss at Dallas against the Cowboys. It wasn’t the miserable performance on the field that provided the picture as much as his reaction after the game.
Agholor has been a disappointment since being selected in the first round in 2015 and continued that trend on Sunday night when he dropped a pass on a key third-and-six situation. He wound up with three catches for 25 yards and was again a member or a roster of sub-par receivers.
The real problem occurred after the game when Agholor got defensive and sounded like he refused to accept any sort of blame when asked about the problems. Philadelphia sports fans – especially Eagles fans, not only hear the words spoken by their hometown athletes, but also the tone.
And Eagles fans heard a really bad tone from Agholor after the game when he whined about being singled out for the dropped pass. When confronted, Agholor responded with a curt “At the end of the day that s*** is nothing,” he said.
“I don’t look at no drops,” he continued, "I’m tired of hearing that s***.”
Yikes, it certainly sounds like a struggling athlete who is starting to feel the heat of playing in Philadelphia. It is a worst case scenario when a player with a whole lot of talent can’t deal with the heat of a spotlight.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson has been saddled with a team lacking a deep threat, and he really needs Agholor to step up and meet expectations. If he was blessed with at least one receiver who could change a game with a game-breaking long reception, it would make him a lot more effective coach, and likely turn quarterback Carson Wentz into an even bigger star.
Pederson is stuck in the uncomfortable position of trying to deal with the reality of his roster of receivers while also trying to pump up their tires – especially Agholor.
Pederson was not thrilled to hear of Agholor’s comments after the game, and he said he was going to speak with the receiver before this Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
“I think he might be pressing too much,” said Pederson. The coach also warned that Agholor “hears the outside noise,” referring to the receiver’s reaction to criticism.
Pederson said he would talk to Agholor and tell him; “You’re trying to do too much, just relax and go play. Trust your instincts, trust your ability.” He also said he will tell Agholor they are both in the same boat.
“I’ll tell him, “Nelson, listen, if you’re getting it, then I’m getting it too.’”
Believe it or not, the best case scenario is that Agholor’s problems are mostly in his head. The bigger danger is that he simply does not have the physical skill set ... And the biggest of the worst case scenarios is a combination of the two – that Agholor is that nightmare of a player who has both limited ability and a bad attitude.
Agholor would be smart to listen to Pederson about much more than just the Xs and Os. This is a critical game for Agholor, most importantly in how he plays on the field, but also how he reacts off the field.
Somehow, Agholor has to dismiss all the noise around him, and literally live within the huddle of the offense and the walls of the locker room. Answer the question, but lose the attitude.
Believe it or not, the best case scenario is that Agholor’s problems are mostly in his head. The bigger danger is that he simply does not have the physical skill set. It might simply be a case of a player that was over-rated at the draft and who simply is not skilled enough to play in the NFL.
And the biggest of the worst case scenarios is a combination of the two – that Agholor is that nightmare of a player who has both limited ability and a bad attitude.
On balance, this has been a pretty good early season for the Eagles. They started the campaign with a blockbuster deal that landed them a rookie franchise quarterback, they feature a killer defense, and they have already gone toe-to-toe with some of the NFL’s best teams.
This Sunday’s game against the Giants will be a chance to quickly reverse the loss in Dallas, and Pederson will be under some intense pressure to get the team back on track.
And it’s a great opportunity for Agholor to win the respect back from inside and outside the locker room. It’s time for him to hear no evil and play one helluva game.