With one play, Nelson Agholor could have erased what was an otherwise miserable offensive afternoon for the Eagles at the Linc against the Patriots.
He couldn’t do it.
The ball popped out of Agholor’s hands in the back of the end zone on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. It was a play that could have tied the game. That pretty much sealed the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champs (see Roob's observations).
It was a frustrating end to what was another frustrating performance from the Eagles’ wide receiver group, this time without Alshon Jeffery, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.
“We gotta be better,” Agholor said. “I mean, that’s the reality of it. There’s no excuse. We just gotta be better.”
Carson Wentz certainly didn’t have his best performance and he even missed a couple big throws on the penultimate drive that could have tied the game. But with 1:05 left, he was able to get off that fourth-down pass with pressure in his face and hit Agholor in the hands in the back of the end zone.
Agholor, who has been having an unfortunate contract season, said he tried to track the ball over his shoulder and actually thought he did a good job of tracking it.
“Yeah, I did,” Agholor answered when asked if he tracked the ball well. “If anything, I kind of hit the ground and that’s when I lost it.”
But it looked like Agholor might have overrun the ball and then had to contort his body in an attempt to haul it in. His knee did hit the ground hard and he grabbed it in pain after the play.
There might have been some wind too.
"The ball did travel weird, but at the end of the day, it’s the NFL, you gotta find a way to track it down," Agholor said. "And I thought I followed it. On the way down, I kind of hit the ground hard and moved it."
Once again on Sunday, the Eagles didn’t get nearly enough production from their wide receivers. This time, they were without Jeffery, but the lack of plays from that position has been a trend the entire season, even with him.
Look at Sunday’s receiving numbers for the Birds:
Tight ends and running backs: 14 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD
Receivers: 6 catches, 75 yards
And until that second-to-last drive, the Eagles’ receivers had just 22 receiving yards. So that group went nearly the entire game without making any significant impact.
Without Jeffery, you can certainly say this group isn’t talented enough. But Agholor is getting paid $9.4 million, JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick and Jordan Matthews, although he’s been back just a week, has had a relatively productive NFL career. Even Mack Hollins made plays in two games earlier this year.
Agholor: 4 catches on 9 targets, 40 yards
Arcega-Whiteside: 1 catch on 1 target, 29 yards
Jordan Matthews: 1 catch on 6 targets, 6 yards
Mack Hollins: 1 target
“Everybody’s gotta step up, meaning me,” Agholor said. “I only had, what, four catches? I gotta make more plays.”
It would certainly help if the Eagles got some more plays from their receivers, but at this point in the season, it’s unrealistic to expect a switch to get flipped. The Eagles have had most of their success with long drives, dinking and dunking their way down the field.
For months, the Eagles have said the chunk plays are coming. They’re not.
Why is Wentz so confident they’ll get more firepower from these players?
“For me, I get to see all these guys at practice,” Wentz said. “I think everyone in here and in the public doesn’t get to see it. So I have a lot of confidence in the guys that when their number’s called, they’re going to make plays.”
Maybe Wentz has confidence — and maybe he should — but it would be misguided for anyone else to have it. These receivers kind of are what they are at this point. Was anyone really surprised Agholor failed to haul in that catch at the end of the game?
I didn’t think so.
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