Does it seem like the Philadelphia Eagles are moving on from Nelson Agholor already? It may be time to open the debate table for this one.
When 2019 began, two topics were at the top of just about every discussion board whenever the Philadelphia Eagles, Nelson Agholor, and the rest of Philly’s receiving corps came up. One, we knew this was a contract year for ’13’, and second, unless the NFL began playing the game with two footballs, it was going to be hard to keep all of Carson Wentz‘s weapons totally happy.
Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz are two of the best tight ends in the game. Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are both legitimate number-one receivers. JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Nelson Agholor both figured to do a ton of damage in the slot. We haven’t even brought up the talent Philly had in the backfield.
Two Philadelphia Eagles had a little light shone on them in a recent ranking. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson were ranked among PFF’s top ten offensive tackles.
We can question slow starts, offensive production, and just how much Philadelphia Eagles franchise quarterback Carson Wentz is asked to do on his own, but there’s never been a need to question one thing about Philly’s offense. If the line is healthy, they’re among the best in the league. A big part of that is the bookends, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson.
Recently, the stat gurus over at Pro Football Focus pieced together a piece on the NFL’s ten best offensive tackles. The future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Peters, who’s also a nine-time Pro Bowl nod (seven of those nominations came in Philly) and Lane Johnson, who’s no stranger to the Pro Bowl himself (two nods in 2017 and 2018), made the list. If everything, works out according to plan, we’ll be seeing a lot of Andre Dillard in these conversations when Peters finally decides to call it a career.
Here’s some of what PFF said on the subject of Peters:
The Eagles drafted Peters’ long term replacement in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft this offseason, but the 16-year veteran looks far from finished on the left side of the Eagles line. He has yet to allow a sack on 202 pass-blocking snaps so far this season, giving up just three hits and six hurries.
Here’s the skinny on Johnson:
Peters’ teammate at the opposite side of the line is up next, and they form a pair of bookends who have yet to concede a sack. On the field for 212 pass-blocking snaps in 2019 so far, Johnson has allowed two hits and nine hurries and has also produced a 76.1 PFF run-blocking grade on 144 run-blocking snaps.
The top five looks like this: La’el Collins of the Dallas Cowboys (1), Mitchell Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs (2), Anthony Castonzo of the Indianapolis Colts (3), Ryan Ramczyk of the New Orleans Saints (4), and Ronnie Stanley of the Baltimore Ravens (5).
Peters and Johnson land at eight and nine respectively. The rest of the top ten looks like this: Matt Feiler of the Pittsburgh Steelers (6), Tyron Smith of the Dallas Cowboys (7), and Laremy Tunsil of the Houston Texans (10).
You can probably argue about positioning, but it’s hard to debate about any of the names on the list.
The season kicked off, and something became very obvious very quickly. The term ‘on paper’ is used often in football jargon for a reason. Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it’s going to be productive.
Without even getting into any of that, we should all note something. Philly’s offense has played well for the most part. They’re scoring. They’ve had a chance to win in every game. This team should truly be 5-0. Still, the drops can’t be ignored. Neither can the long offensive droughts this team has a tendency to go on.
Speaking of ‘drops’ and ‘droughts’, has anyone else noticed that Agholor’s been targeted four times over the course of the last two games? He has one catch in that span. Both of those games were Eagles victories. The immediate question is this. Has Agholor lost the confidence of Carson Wentz or his coaches? Is he, whether intentionally or unintentionally, being phased out of the offense?
It’s doubtful, but is it wrong to ask the question?
All season long, Eagles fans have been clamoring for more Jordan Howard. They’ve been given that. Yes, Wentz has a tendency to become too reliant on Zach Ertz, but no one will complain about getting one of the best tight ends in football the ball either.
Whatever your thought process is on this one, it’s hard to ignore a few things. Even though he’d make a more difficult catch to extend an Eagles drive, Agholor dropped a sure touchdown that would have put Philly up on the Atlanta Falcons before that. As mentioned earlier, he’s hauled in just 25 percent of the passes thrown his way during Philly’s two-game winning streak.
Yes, Wentz is always saying that you come back to the guys who make mistakes because it builds confidence, but he has to factor in his own confidence too, right? This team needs to figure some things out on offense. If he’s lost some of the trust he has with Arcega-Whiteside and Agholor would you blame him?
Let’s all make long stories short. To say the Eagles have moved on from Agholor or are phasing him out might be a stretch. Wentz will, surely, look his way again. When he does, ’13’ must make plays. Otherwise, his future in Philly or anywhere else beyond this season will be in serious peril.