Raiders Coach Bashes Philly Media, Says Ex-Eagles WR Needed ‘Change of Scenery’

Nelson Agholor

Getty Former Eagles WR Nelson Agholor is looking for a fresh start in Las Vegas.

Nelson Agholor’s final year in Philadelphia featured a ton of dropped passes and scorching criticism. Now he’s in the neon desert.

Agholor, the 20th overall pick in 2015, had his moments in midnight green, including a breakout 2017 campaign where he caught 62 balls for 768 yards and eight touchdowns while dominating the slot. He helped secure the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory with nine receptions for 84 yards versus New England. Then, increased expectations and mounting pressure seemed to crumble his confidence.

Agholor signed a one-year deal (1.05 million) with Las Vegas in the offseason as he looks for a fresh start. It seems to be going very well so far. Raiders coach Jon Gruden called Agholor a “good player” and blamed the Philly media for his downfall, then compared him to Eagles legend Randall Cunningham.

The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback joined Gruden’s staff as team chaplain since Cunningham is a pastor and ordained minister. The move reunited the 57-year-old with Gruden, his former offensive coordinator in Philly from 1995.

“He is a good player,” Gruden told The Athletic’s Vic Tafur. “You can pick up the Philadelphia Inquirer and they will probably say something different, but this guy has caught over 200 passes, he is a young guy, he has played split end, flanker and in the slot.”

Gruden continued: “He caught eight or nine passes in a Super Bowl and won a Super Bowl. So he’s a world champion. I trust him and I think he was picked high in the draft for a reason. A change of scenery worked for Randall Cunningham, maybe it will work for him.”

Cunningham struggled with nagging injuries in 1993 and 1994 before being benched in favor of Rodney Peete in Philly. That, coupled with his inability to adapt to the West Coast offense (installed under Gruden in Philly), led to his retirement after the 1995 season. Cunningham would later return to the NFL and quarterback the Vikings to a 14-2 record and came within three points of a Super Bowl berth.

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Agholor’s Sudden Fall From Grace in Philadelphia

The 27-year-old was only credited with four total drops in 2019, but he became a poster boy for “alligator arms” and not giving maximum effort. The vitriol toward Agholor from fans and media turned sour fast, causing him to leave social media and turn down interview requests. He eventually was shut down for the year with a lingering knee injury. To his credit, Agholor was a consummate professional through it all and never complained or made excuses.

The former first-round pick openly took the heat even after a former firefighter coined the infamous “unlike Agholor” meme. It was a trying year for Agholor who broke down in tears following a missed catch that would have tied the game against New England. That one would have been a highlight-reel play, one that even head coach Doug Pederson chalked up to the wind being a factor.

“It would have been a heck of a catch,” Pederson told reporters. “The angle he was on, and I don’t know if the wind moved the ball at all, but he was having to bend back over his shoulder. It would have been a spectacular catch if he’d have got it. I’m sure he’s beating himself up for not making that play.”

Now Agholor is in Las Vegas looking to make the most of his second chance. He finished with 224 catches for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns during five roller-coaster years in Philly. Good luck, Nelson.

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