Agholor Responds to Effort Questions
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A heartfelt Nelson Agholor defended himself against unfair criticism in the Eagles locker room on Tuesday.
The fifth-year receiver faced a group of reporters and explained the misconnection on a deep ball from Carson Wentz Sunday night in Dallas before taking aim at those who questioned his effort on the play.
“I'm a professional,” Agholor said at his locker. “I know I work hard. At the end of the day, no one feels sorry for me. They don't need to. I'm in this position because I'm a tough player, and I'm a tough person, and I'm going to keep on fighting.”
Agholor went through the mechanics of the fourth-quarter play in which Carson Wentz lofted a 60-yard pass downfield with plenty of open space and Jeff Heath trailing Agholor. The Southern Cal product was late picking up the football in the air and the back end of the play turned awkward with Agholor not being unable to reach the football or lay out as most fans wanted.
“For those that think they would have done that, I think that that's respect for them,” Agholor said.
Agholor's take included not selling his corner route as hard as he did because Heath was already beaten and picking up the football quicker which would have resuled in a better route to it. Tracking has long been Agholor's biggest problem when it comes to his downfield work.
“If I could do it again, I probably would have sold the corner a little less so that I could get out of it and be able to track the ball a little earlier,” Agholor admitted. “I think I was running away, creating separation running, and I looked up a little late to be able to follow it the way I’d like to.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh offered a similar explanation moments later.
"I thought he gave tremendous effort; played with great speed down the field," Groh said. "I thought he located the ball maybe a little bit later in the down than we would like and made it a difficult -- because he located it late, he wasn't able to catch up to it. Had he located it sooner, maybe he would've taken a little bit different course and would've been there."
Groh, Agholor's former position coach, then defended his student even further
"I do want to say this though. In terms of Nelson's effort in our games and the things that he does for this team, I don't think that his effort should ever, ever be questioned," Groh stated. "He's poured his heart and soul into this team over the last five years and done everything that he's ever been asked to do. Because we didn't connect on that one, I don’t think is a reflection on what he's done for our team."
Perhaps too sensitive at times to uneducated opinions Agholor closed his media session with some frustration.
“I don’t want to keep on trying to defend myself with the talk," Agholor said. “Go out there and run it. Go out there [against] live bullets. I left that Dallas game thinking I played my [butt] off. I love you all, but [the criticism is] crazy to me sometimes.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen