Redeemed Agholor Returns to Seattle
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Just over a year ago Nelson Agholor hit rock bottom in Seattle.
It was in the Pacific Northwest on Nov. 20 of last year when Agholor went through the equivalent of a breakdown in the locker room after the weight of consistent mistakes caught up to the former first-round pick.
The big ones in a 26-15 loss to the Seahawks were an illegal formation penalty that wiped out a Zach Ertz's 57-yard touchdown reception and a huge drop in the middle of the field after Agholor had undressed Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman.
"I can’t get out of my own head," a distraught Agholor told reporters after the game. "I’m pressing so much. I’m worried about so many things. ... "I let [the bad plays] just eat at me.”
That was enough for Doug Pederson, who sat Agholor down for a game after the meltdown in almost the football equivalent of a mental-health day.
“I respect Doug,” Agholor said at his locker Thursday after practice when discussing the pullback. “I believe he makes the best decisions for the organization. I think he thought that was the best decision for me. I’m appreciative because I love where I am right now. And I know where I want to be.”
Fast forward a calendar year and the 10-1 Eagles are getting ready to visit Seattle again and Agholor has already had a renaissance, posting career highs with 458 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, six receiving and one when he recovered a Jay Ajayi fumble in the end zone last week against Chicago.
The narrative is that Agholor has worked hard to turn himself into a competent NFL player and the preseason trade of Jordan Matthews opened up a slot role for the Southern Cal product, something he's excelled in.
To those who see Agholor every day in practice, however, work ethic was never the issue with the speedy receiver, confidence was.
"I think [confidence] fuels players’ play more than most people think — at every position," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "At this level, most of the guys have a lot of confidence. But I’ve been around the best players in the world as a player and a coach, and I’ve seen players lose confidence. I mean, the best.
"So, credit to Nelson that he’s fought through it and having such a good year."
A strong offseason in which Agholor was consistently right there with Alshon Jeffery as the best receiver on the field carried over into training camp and then the regular season. Now the receiver that will arrive at CenturyLink Field on Sunday as a dangerous weapon capable of hurting any opponent.
“I made a goal for myself in the offseason to just be better and to not be denied,” Agholor said. “I think it all changed when I told myself I would not be denied.”
At just 24 Agholor is now a key part of the Eagles' offense and one that figures to continue to grow as Carson Wentz gets better and better.
And what better place to show that than where he once hit rock bottom?
“I love what I do,” Agholor said. “I love the process of it. I love the grind. I love getting better every day. And a challenge is great for me, because it is part of what I like to do. I never thought everything in this life would be easy, ... That’s just me. And I think there are a lot of other people like that. We love to get better, and we invite adversity. I really love that part of the game, because it makes you better.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen