Philadelphia Eagles: A meditation on Nelson Agholor and the offense

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Nelson Agholor (C)
LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Nelson Agholor (C) /

A few days ago, the Philadelphia Eagles’ big question marks were all related to the offense and none to Nelson Agholor. Then, but a new concern arose.

A few days ago, it was suggested here that the biggest question marks regarding the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles were all about the offense.  The areas suggested were general in nature – the offensive line and the running backs, except for an individual item at the top of the list, the performance of quarterback Carson Wentz.  What nobody did in the run-up to the season opener against Washington was suggest in any way that Nelson Agholor was on any list of big question marks.

This was both strange and understandable.  It’s strange because Nelson Agholor is replacing the team’s best statistical receiver, Jordan Matthews, in the slot, and it’s understandable because, frankly, Agholor had been a near-total bust in Philadelphia.

At best, he rated a small question mark, if any at all.  Until Sunday.

On Sunday, Algohor was arguably the best weapon Wentz used, catching six of eight passes his way for 86 yards, including the Philadelphia Eagles’ first touchdown of the season, a 58-yard bomb from his scrambling QB.  (Tight end Zach Ertz caught eight passes on eight targets for 93, but had no scoring catch.)

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After the game, CSN Philly tweeted, “Can anyone prove to us that they started Nelson Agholor in fantasy this week?”.  A screenshot was demanded.

Do we have a redemption story here?

Not so fast, desperate ones. Although Agholor caught almost ten percent of his career passes on Sunday (six of 65), and almost 12 percent of his career yardage, as they say so frequently about many situations in life, “That was only one day.”  If anyone’s effort could eventually come to represent the term outlier, it is the former USC standout’s performance in Washington.

We truly hope we don’t have to say about Sunday’s receiving star one day, “Remember Agholor’s Game?” It could be, however, more or less the equivalent of Domonic’s Month if he doesn’t continue to produce.

On the other hand, it may well be that Agholor was misused for two full years, for a year by Chip “The Genius” Kelly and for a year by Doug Pederson.  Maybe he’s always been meant to be a slot receiver, and it took Philadelphia Eagles’ management two full years to figure that out.  Weirdly, if that turns out to be the case, it will also mean that once somebody figured that out, somebody (else?) had to make the decision to trade away the proven slot man and keep the apparent draft bust.

The Other Offensive Questions

Anyway, how about the other question marks – the big ones?

First, Wentz was fine, basically.  He had to scramble some because of the second question mark, the offensive line, caving in a bit against Washington’s fairly impressive rush.  He fumbled once, and threw an interception, but tallied 307 yards and two touchdowns.  The second TD pass came on a surprise pass to big back LeGarrette Blount after an imaginative shift of several players at the line of scrimmage.  (Kudos go there to the Eagles’ offensive masterminds, or whichever one drew up that one.  Was it offensive coordinator Frank Reich?)

Regarding Wentz’ bodyguards, it didn’t help that tackle Jason Peters missed a great deal of the game with a strained groin.  (However, in a post-game interview on TCN, he told Derrick Gunn he would be ready for Kansas City.)

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The third question mark?  The running backs remain more lost in the fog than any other facet of the team at this point with only Blount really having produced (3.3 yards per carry on 14 touches).  In his post-game interview with the press (TCN again), Wentz didn’t deny questioner Les Bowen’s suggestion that the running game “didn’t quite get into gear.”  It didn’t.  The running game’s longest run was by Blount for a mere seven yards.

The Philadelphia Eagles eclipsed most predicted victory margins around the Delaware Valley by winning 30-17, but this team should not be overconfident as they fly to Kansas City in a week.

A Fourth Question Mark?  Not Any More

The fourth question mark – the cornerback corps – moves up to number one now.  On the downside – way down – the newly acquired Ronald Darby dislocated his ankle, and it will be a surprise if he returns this season.  On the upside, Jalen Mills had his best game as a professional, with two defended passes, his first interception for pay, and nine tackles.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz will make himself known this season

But yikes!  Who’s going to stop Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.? On this side of the ball, the Philadelphia Eagles could be in a fairly compromising position. Their lack of quality depth could hurt them in big-time situations. Hopefully, they can alleviate this situation.