Eagles

Nelson Agholor's Super Bowl symbolic of his turnaround

Nelson Agholor's Super Bowl symbolic of his turnaround

Last year, Nelson Agholor caught nine passes the last seven weeks of the season. This year, he caught nine passes in the Super Bowl.

On a team of inspiring stories, Agholor’s is one of the most inspiring.

A year ago, his confidence was so shot he couldn’t make even the easiest catch. He looked overmatched and overwhelmed. He spoke openly about his lost confidence, and things got so bad he was even benched and inactive for a week.

What a remarkable reversal.

We all saw a different Agholor as early as training camp, and the third-year wide receiver kept it up all year. He finished the regular season with 62 catches for 768 yards — more than his first two years combined — and added eight touchdowns.

In the playoffs? How about 15 catches for 167 yards, including 9 for 84 in the Super Bowl.

What a thing.

“This whole year’s been a blessing,” Agholor said. “At the end of the day, it’s me trying to be who I’m supposed to be. From here on out, I’ve just got to keep working hard and have great focus to get better each year.”

Agholor quickly became Carson Wentz’s favorite big-play receiver, opening the season with a 58-yard touchdown against the Redskins, and he didn’t slow down. In total, he caught six passes of 35 yards or more in all — including a 42-yarder from Nick Foles in the NFC Championship Game. That was tied for seventh most in the NFL this year.

And on Sunday, he was at his best, with a career-high nine receptions, breaking his previous career high of eight set in L.A. against the Rams on the day Wentz got hurt.

Including a couple runs, Agholor finished the 2017 postseason with 196 yards from scrimmage. Only four Eagles wide receivers have ever had more in a single postseason: Alshon Jeffery this year, DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis in 2008 and Harold Carmichael in 1979.

Agholor’s nine catches are second-most ever by an Eagle in a playoff game — behind Brent Celek’s 10 against the Cardinals in the 2008 NFC Championship Game — and 14th-most ever in a Super Bowl. The only NFC receivers with more catches in a Super Bowl are Jerry Rice and Hakeem Nicks.

Agholor had a 17-yard catch on a 3rd-and-6 on the third-quarter touchdown drive and a 24-yard gain on the drive that culminated in Jake Elliott's 42-yard fourth-quarter field goal, but he saved his best work for the Eagles' go-ahead drive in the game's final minutes, catching passes of 10, 18 and 10 yards on consecutive snaps to get the offense from near midfield to inside the Patriots' 15-yard line.

Three plays later, Foles threw the game-winning 11-yard touchdown to Zach Ertz.

Last year, three catches for 38 yards would have been one of Agholor's best games. This year, it was his production on the game-winning fourth-quarter drive in the Super Bowl.

“Honestly, I think that I’m a great example for everybody else who might be going through something similar to what I went through last year,” he said.

“You just have to believe in yourself. You have to work very hard and just make no excuses. That is my recipe.

“I can’t point the finger at anybody else for last year. That’s why I won’t point the finger at anybody else for this year, you know? You just have to work very hard.”

When do players know their football days are over?

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USA Today Images

When do players know their football days are over?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Father's Day weekend. What kind of basketball parent is Barrett? The guys give their 53-man roster after spring practices. Tom Brady says he can feel his playing days are getting numbered. When do players first start realizing that the end is near and what makes that reality most difficult? Also, how should the Giants handle Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation?

"I think that Saquon [Barkley] is going to be better than [Ezekiel] Elliott." — Barrett Brooks.

1:00 - What kind of basketball parent is Barrett?
3:00 - Father's Day weekend recap.
5:00 - Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices.
15:30 - Tom Brady tells Oprah the end is near ... when do players start seeing that reality?
20:00 - The hardest part about having to say goodbye to football.
23:00 - Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation.

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

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