Martin Frank
delawareonline.com

It was only one game. So Nelson Agholor's critics still have reason to remain skeptical,

But it was the best game of the wide receiver's career. The former first-round draft pick, in his third season, had six catches for 86 yards in the Eagles' 30-17 win over Washington last Sunday.

Both totals, incredibly, are career highs for Agholor.

By comparison, second-year Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill has had at least a 60-yard touchdown in each of his last five regular-season games. The Eagles travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs on Sunday.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson wasn't surprised by Agholor's Week 1 performance.

"I think looking forward, his confidence level, I've honestly seen it all spring and all summer, and it's right where I expect him to be," Pederson said.

"It comes in with the team victory and thatís the most important thing," Agholor said of his Week 1 performance. "Like I said, my focus is about giving all I can to help us win games, and those types of plays put us in position to win games."

Jordan Matthews played the slot for Agholor's first two seasons.

The Eagles loved using Matthews in the slot because his size -- 6-foot-3-- gave him a distinct height advantage over smaller nickel cornerbacks who had to guard him.

But Matthews is not particularly speedy, meaning he was mostly a safety valve underneath for Eagles quarterbacks Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez in 2014, Sam Bradford in 2015 and Wentz last season.

Matthews led the Eagles in receiving in each of the past two seasons. But he averaged just 11.7 yards per catch in 2015 and 11.0 yards last season.

On Aug. 11, the Eagles traded Matthews to Buffalo for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Agholor, at 6-feet, 198 pounds, doesn't have Matthews' size. But he is much faster. Four of Agholor's six receptions converted third downs into first downs. The he got behind the defense as quarterback Carson Wentz scrambled and caught a 58-yard TD pass.

"Most guys are in the slot because they can't run," fellow wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "That's not the case for him.

"He's invariably fast, and super quick. A lot of guys [in the slot] are either one or the other ... So you watch Nellie move, and there are not a lot of guys in this league who can move like him. He's gifted, so it's a challenge for [defenders] inside. When he's playing confidently, his natural talent shines."


That has not always been the case, hence the critics.

Agholor was benched for a game last season after he admitted to losing his confidence.

More importantly to fans, he struggled through his first two seasons to consistently catch the football. Agholor's low point came last season against Seattle when he was wide open going across the middle near midfield. The ball hit him in stride, but Agholor dropped it, then put his hands on his helmet in frustration. Had he caught the pass, he could have run for at least another 30 yards, perhaps even a touchdown.

But what gets overlooked on that play was that Agholor had blown past Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in order to get open, using both his speed and his route-running ability.

"I think we've always talked that Nelson, on third down, you're going to get a lot of man coverage," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "Nelson is fast, explosive, good off the line versus press [coverage]. Good route runner, good feet, good separation at the top of routes.

"He's just playing with a lot of confidence right now and Carson has a lot of confidence in him, and that's building, and it needs to keep building."

If it does, Agholor will leave the bust label behind.


'bout friggin' time !