Nelson Agholor

Nelson Agholor focused simply on having fun in midst of turnaround season

Nelson Agholor focused simply on having fun in midst of turnaround season

Don't talk to Nelson Agholor about his stats. Don't even try.

He doesn't want to hear about it.

Here we are in Week 7, and Agholor needs 45 yards Monday night against the Redskins for a career receiving high. For a full season.

His four touchdowns are already more than his combined career total of three from his first two years. His 16.1 yards per catch is 10th-best in the NFL and light years above his career high of 11.0 coming into the season.

Impressed?

“Not really," Agholor said. "I just look at how much fun I’m having and team success, and that’s the best part about this situation.

"If somebody came in and told me all my numbers and statistics, all that type of stuff? The best part of it is we’re winning a lot of football games right now and we’re having a whole lot of fun doing it."

Six games into the season, Agholor has 20 catches for 321 yards.

Compare that with the last seven weeks of last year, when a disappointing career turned into a disaster and he caught just 11 catches for just 108 yards.

Agholor just shrugs.

“That’s a great thing," he said. "I’m having so much more fun this year, so that’s the best part. I’m having more fun than my first two years in the league.

"They go hand in hand. The more fun you have, because winning is fun, making plays is fun, but there’s just a feeling about stepping on the field and enjoying the moment and enjoying the opportunity."

In his first two years, Agholor's best games went for 57, 62 and 64 yards. Already this year, he's had games with 55, 58, 86 and 93 yards.

So in just six weeks, he's produced four of his seven-best games as a pro.

We heard about it all spring, and we heard about it all summer, and Agholor has backed up all the talk about becoming a different guy with production.

He really has become a different guy.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson noticed it the first day of OTAs.

"Part of my message to him, specifically to Nelson, after the season, was just get away," Pederson said. "Get away, clear your mind, clear everything, and when he came back in the spring for OTAs, he was a changed football player. He was a changed person. His confidence level was higher. 

"I would say it wasn't like through the roof as it is now, but it was beginning to build at that point of the spring, and each day that he got a little more comfortable in his new role of playing in the slot helped that. And I think, too, the addition of Torrey (Smith) and Alshon (Jeffery) on the perimeter also took a little of the pressure off of him and diverted it to all three of them."

The move to the slot gave Agholor ownership of a specific position and created matchup problems for defenses that just don't have the speed to cover Jeffery and Smith outside and Agholor inside.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to just run different routes and give a different look," Agholor said. "I like playing outside, inside, wherever. I just like being a guy that you can get the football to, so I want to know as much as I can in terms of the route tree to help myself be a better football player, and Doug decided this was a great place for me to get those targets, and I’m very appreciative."

This time last year, Wentz wasn't even looking Agholor's way. Now, other than tight end Zach Ertz, he's become his favorite receiver.

"A guy like that, I’m just so happy for him," Carson Wentz said. "He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around. And so to see him kind of take that step? And really the biggest thing I think we’ve all seen is just his confidence is just through the roof, and that’s really been exciting for him, exciting for this team, exciting for this whole city."

One of the biggest differences in Agholor this year is his ability to make plays after the catch.

With his new-found confidence, he actually looks faster. Through six games, Agholor has 143 yards after the catch or 7.2 yards per reception. He had 113 YACs all last year, just 3.1 yards per catch.

“It’s a want-to thing," he said. "First is securing the catch and then just the want-to after that.

"I’ve just been in position. Been in position to catch the ball and then grass in front of me and making plays. I just hope to be in position or often."

Here we are six games into the season, and Agholor and not Jeffery or Smith leads all Eagles wide receivers in yards so far this year.

And Agholor and Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs are the only NFL receivers with more than one 50-yard touchdown catch. Agholor had a 58-yarder on opening day against the Redskins and a 72-yarder against the Cards.

None of this surprises Agholor.
 
"I expected to keep on trusting the process and keep on getting better each day and then letting opportunity meet preparation," Agholor said. "And for me, I think like I have a lot more to do and I want to keep on getting better as a football player."

Eagles Film Review: Shaq Thompson is no match for Nelson Agholor

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NFL

Eagles Film Review: Shaq Thompson is no match for Nelson Agholor

Coming into Thursday night's game, the Eagles thought they would have the chance to exploit a mismatch against the Panthers' defense. 

They were right.

At times, the Panthers like to stay in their base defense, which means lining up linebacker Shaq Thompson on Nelson Agholor. While Thompson is a pretty athletic guy for 6-0, 230, he's not nearly quick enough to match up with Agholor, who is having a great season. 

Through six games this season, Agholor already has 20 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns. After a terribly disappointing start to his career, it appears Agholor has finally figured it out as the Eagles' slot receiver. 

On Thursday, he had four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Most of that came against Thompson. When lined up against Thompson, he had two catches for 48 yards, including the fourth-quarter touchdown. 

"They've done that in their past. Shaq's a tremendous athlete and very gifted," head coach Doug Pederson said. "[He] can run, [he is a] physical linebacker, [and] plays a lot like a nickel DB. It just so happened that he thought Nelson was going to — great move, great move at the top of the route. He juked him to the outside and he bit on the play and then Nelson broke inside. Carson (Wentz) made a very accurate throw for the touchdown. But that's something they've shown even leading up to the game."

We'll take a look at the touchdown, but first a look at an early reception: 

Agholor (circled) has plenty of space on 3rd-and-5. It looks like he's not covered, but he is. Linebacker Shaq Thompson (also circled) is about drop in coverage. 

At the top of Agholor's route, Thompson actually has pretty good coverage. After all, he's a really good athlete for a linebacker, but it's not going to be enough. Carson Wentz has plenty of time in the pocket; his offensive line is doing its job. 

Agholor wasn't his first read on this play. But Wentz doesn't like what he sees on the left side of the field where Torrey Smith is working. 

Now, Wentz has locked in on Agholor, who has gotten behind Thompson in coverage and he's about to slip to his right and get open. The deep safety sees it too. He's going to start driving toward the play, so it's going to take a perfect pass from Wentz. 

Perfect pass from Wentz. He was actually pretty shaky early in Thursday's game but this was a beautiful throw. After Agholor catches the ball he's able to get past the safety and pick up an even bigger gain of 24 yards. 

This next play is the first of the fourth quarter. The Eagles were already in the lead but this touchdown pass is about to put them up by 12 points. 

At the time of the snap, Thompson has Agholor in man coverage with absolutely no help. This isn't going to end well. 

Wentz notices the mismatch immediately and never looks anywhere else. He stares down Agholor until the receiver makes a break at the top of his route. He already has Thompson beat. Thompson is a good athlete but he can't cut the way Agholor can. 

By the time Agholor catches the ball, it's pretty clear he's already going to have the first down. But there's a lot of space in front of him. And the deep safety's momentum is taking him away from the play. 

Agholor takes a straight line right into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown catch. 

On both of those plays, Agholor doesn't just get open in the slot. He uses his quickness to do it and then uses his speed to make something happen after the catch. For as well as Jordan Matthews played in the slot over the last few years, Agholor is just a more explosive player. 

"That's beneficial for a slot receiver to have that kind of breakaway speed," Pederson said, "and two great plays by him. Just got to keep him coming."

Through six games this year, Agholor is on pace to have the best year — by far — of his career. He's on pace for 53 catches for 856 yards and 10 touchdowns. That would be a big-time jump. 

Roob Stats: Just how historic has the Eagles' run defense been so far?

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Roob Stats: Just how historic has the Eagles' run defense been so far?

This week's edition of Roob Stats covers some historic run defense, more record-breaking from Jake Elliott, Carson Wentz's latest history-making performance and much more!

We start with some remarkable stats regarding the Eagles' run defense!

• The Eagles have allowed just 394 rushing yards in six games. That's the fewest they've allowed in their first six games since 1954 — a span of 63 years! They allowed 342 the first six games that year. The only other seasons they've allowed fewer rushing yards at this point of the season were 1943 (384 yards) and 1944 (393 yards).

• Those 394 rushing yards allowed are also the fewest any team has given up six games into a season since the 2010 Steelers allowed 382.

• The Eagles are only the 20th team in NFL history with at least 750 rushing yards gained and fewer than 400 rushing yards allowed after six games and the first since the 2007 Titans.

• Kareem Hunt remains the only running back to rush for more than 35 yards against the Eagles this year. Of the 394 rushing yards against the Eagles, 122 were by quarterbacks and 32 by wide receivers. So opposing running backs have carried 82 times for 240 yards — which is 2.9 yards per carry and 40 yards per game.

• The Eagles have held four straight teams to 80 or fewer rushing yards. That equals their longest streak since 1992, when they did it five straight weeks. The franchise record is nine straight games, set over the 1990 and 1991 seasons. According to the Pro Football Reference database, that's the third-longest streak ever.

• The Eagles are on pace to allow 1,050 rushing yards this year, which would be the fourth-fewest since the league went to a 16-game season in 1978, behind only the 2000 Ravens (970), 2006 Vikings (985) and 2010 Steelers (1,004).

Going back farther, the 65.7 rushing yards per game the Eagles are allowing puts them on pace to allow the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game since 1940:

47.2 … 1942 Bears (519 in 11 games)

55.5 … 1944 Eagles (555 in 10 games)

60.6 … 2000 Ravens (970 in 16 games)

61.6 … 2006 Vikings (985 in 16 games)

62.8 … 2010 Steelers (1,004 in 16 games)

65.6 … 1964 Bills (918 in 14 games)

65.7 … 2017 Eagles (1,050 in 6 games)

How about some Carson Wentz nuggets?
• With just three interceptions in 207 pass attempts, Wentz has lowered his career interception ratio to 2.09 every 100 attempts. That is the eighth-best ratio in NFL history among quarterbacks who've thrown at least 750 passes. Just ahead of him? Former teammate and former Ram Sam Bradford (1.97). Just behind him? Current teammate and former Ram Nick Foles (2.10).

Here's the top 10:

1.55 - Aaron Rodgers

1.62 - Tyrod Taylor

1.77 - Colin Kaepernick

1.79 - Derek Carr

1.82 - Tom Brady

1.95 - Russell Wilson

1.97 - Sam Bradford

2.09 - Carson Wentz

2.10 - Nick Foles

2.11 - Neil O’Donnell

• Wentz had never thrown three touchdowns in a game and then he did it twice in five days with four against the Cards and three against the Panthers. He's the first Eagles quarterback to throw three TDs in consecutive games since Foles in 2013. Before that, Donovan McNabb did it twice and Bubby Brister did it in 1994.

• Wentz has had a passer rating of 90 or higher in four straight games, two shy of the franchise record of six set in 1980 by Ron Jaworski and matched in 2006 by  McNabb and 2010 by Michael Vick. The only longer active streak in the NFL is Alex Smith's streak of six straight games.

• With four TD passes against the Cards and three against the Panthers, Wentz matched the fourth-most TD passes in a two-game span in Eagles history:

10 - Nick Foles, 2013

8 - Adrian Burk, 1954

8 - Donovan McNabb, 2004

7 - Bobby Thomason, 1953

7 - Sonny Jurgensen, 1961

7 - Randall Cunningham 1989

7 - Donovan McNabb, 2005

7 - Carson Wentz, 2017

• Wentz's 13 touchdowns six games into a season equals the most by an Eagles quarterback in 57 years. Adrian Burk threw 14 in 1954 and Norm Van Brocklin threw 14 in 1960. Norm Snead (1967) and McNabb (2004, 2006) both also threw 13 in the first six games.

And the obligatory Jake Elliott stats!
• Elliott has made three field goals of at least 50 yards so far. David Akers, the greatest kicker in Eagles history and an Eagles Hall of Famer, never made three 50-yarders in a season for the Eagles …

• With 49 points in five games, Elliott is on pace for 156 points in 15 games this year. That would break the NFL rookie scoring record of 150 points set in 2014 by former Eagles kicker Cody Parkey. Elliott is also on pace for 36 field goals, which would break the NFL rookie record of 35, set in 1983 by Ali Haji-Sheikh of the Giants and matched in 2012 by Blair Walsh of the Vikings.

• Elliott leads the NFL with seven field goals from at least 45 yards. He's 7 for 8 from 45 and out. Only two other kickers have more than four field goals this year from at least 45 yards.

• Elliott has made three field goals of at least 50 yards. Only six kickers in Eagles history have made more. Elliott has played in five games.

Here's our first-ever Rasul Douglas stats section!
• Douglas and Patrick Robinson both picked off Cam Newton inside the 25-yard line Thursday night. This is the first time the Eagles had two INTs inside the opposing 25-yard-line in the same game in 14 years. On Oct. 5, 2003, in a game against the Redskins, Rod Hood picked off Pat Ramsey at the 23 and N.D. Kalu intercepted him at the 15.

• Another Rod Hood stat? Sure! Douglas and Jalen Mills on Thursday night became the first Eagles cornerback duo 23 years old or younger with INTs in the same game since Hood and Lito Sheppard victimized Jake Delhomme — also of the Panthers — at the Linc on Oct. 17, 2004.

And some miscellaneous Eagles stats!
• This one is courtesy of NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman: With his three interceptions Thursday night, Cam Newton became the first quarterback ever to throw three INTs against the Eagles three games in a row. In fact, he's only the sixth QB with three total games against the Eagles with three or more INTs — and he's not even in their division. The others are Eli Manning and Bobby Layne (four games each with three INTs vs. the Eagles) and Troy Aikman, Joe Theismann and Billy Kilmer (three games).

• The Eagles have scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games. That's the third-longest streak in franchise history.

• Nelson Agholor's 72-yard TD against the Cards and 24-yarder against the Panthers made him the first Eagle with TDs of 20 yards or more in back-to-back games since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.

• The Eagles are one of only six teams in the NFL that hasn’t lost a game by more than a touchdown this year. The others are the Chiefs, Bills, Falcons, Lions and Rams. Going back to last year, they’ve played 10 straight games without losing by more than a touchdown. That’s the third-longest current streak in the NFL and their longest since an 18-game streak in 2011 and 2012.

• The Chiefs have played 33 straight games going into Sunday without a loss of more than seven points (36-21 at the Bengals in 2015), and the Falcons have gone 11 straight.