Raiders QB Blasts Eagles System, Former WR Enjoying ‘Career Year’

nelson agholor

Getty New England Patriots WR Nelson Agholor.

The Philadelphia Eagles had reached a breaking point with struggling wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Between the dropped passes and the hilariously insulting memes, it was time for a fresh start.

The Las Vegas Raiders inked Agholor to a cheap one-year deal in what turned out to be exactly what he needed. He returned motivated and rejuvenated in 2020. The former first-round pick has put up career-high numbers in nearly every statistical category: receiving yards (839), yards-per-catch (17.9), touchdowns (8), first downs (36).

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was lobbying hard for the pending free agent to get an extension in Las Vegas. Their chemistry is off the charts, plus Agholor is a guy Carr truly respects and loves. Ultimately the 27-year-old just needed a change of scenery and an offensive system that better matched his strengths.

“Sometimes a change of scenery is good for somebody. Sometimes a change of scenery doesn’t mean the player has changed, just means he fits better in that system or he fits better in that scheme or it just works out better for him,” Carr said, via Pro Football Talk. “Obviously this is a career year for him. I am so thankful for him. I tell him all the time I love that man so much. I’m so happy for him. He bet on himself, you know? He came here, bet on himself and it’s really worked out for him. I’m happy for him.”

The drops? Well, Agholor still has a touch of loose fingers as he ranks tied for 10th place in the league with five drops this year. But Pro Bowlers Stefon Diggs and DK Metcalf also have five drops.

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Eagles Struggling with Developing Young Receivers

Agholor’s plight opens up Pandora’s box on a larger problem in Philadelphia. The Eagles just haven’t been able to develop their young pass-catchers in recent years despite blowing through six different wide receivers coaches since 2015. It’s easy to sit here and speculate what could have been if they drafted Davante Adams or Justin Jefferson but the inability to coach players up may be at the heart of it.

Doug Pederson was asked about the “disconnect” at the position and pinned the blame on injuries. The head coach also called out himself for not preparing them better and for not installing the right plays.

“They [other teams] don’t have the amount of injuries that we have, they don’t have the offensive line injuries that we have or different things that are going on,” Pederson told reporters. “I think you look back on it and it falls on us obviously as coaches to prepare and that falls directly on me. Maybe I have to install plays better, maybe we have to scale back a little bit more, maybe we can’t overload a player as we go, but these are things that we were learning on the fly with all of our young players.”


Evaluating Philly’s Top WR Draft Picks

The Eagles have made fifth-round pick John Hightower (10 catches, 167 yards) a healthy scratch for three straight weeks while first-rounder Jalen Reagor (30 catches, 381 yards) has missed five games this year due to a myriad of injuries. It’s been a struggle to get guys up to speed.

“You’re trying to point the finger in different directions,” Pederson said. “Obviously, Jalen is a talented guy and a lot of it will fall on us as coaches to prepare our players and get them ready. That growth process, you’re starting to see glimpses of it now, towards the end of the season with him that we were hoping for in Weeks 3 and 4 in the regular season but he had the injury and it set him back.”

Sixth-round pick Quez Watkins (six catches, 100 yards) has just started to turn the corner after coming back from a hamstring injury. Then there’s last year’s second-rounder J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (two catches, 45 yards) who hasn’t seen action since Week 8. He appears to be a flat-out bust.

“As a staff, as a head coach, I have to be demanding of my assistants, number one, and then we can be demanding and hold our players accountable,” Pederson said. “So that’s what I mean by it starts with me, and I think that’s what you’re seeing here with our players. They’re just having more time on task and it’s paid off for them.”

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