Doug Pederson Defends Nelson Agholor

Ed Kracz

Nelson Agholor is on the hot seat again after failing to come up with a fourth-down throw in the end zone with 65 seconds that would have left the Eagles a PAT away from tying their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Agholor has struggled with crucial drops most of the season. Remember the one in Atlanta, streaking down the sideline, wide open for what could have been a potentially game-winning touchdown? Yeah, that was bad.

Sunday’s didn’t rise to that level, but it was still a catchable pass.

“It would have been a heck of a catch,” said head coach Doug Pederson on Monday. “The angle he was on, and I don't know if the wind moved the ball at all, but he was having to bend back over his shoulder. It would have been a spectacular catch if he'd have got it. I'm sure he's beating himself up for not making that play.”

In the postgame locker room, Agholor told reporters he tracked the ball in the air just fine, but just lost it when he hit the ground.

The Eagles decided to pick up the final year of Agholor’s rookie contract and pay him $9.4 million this year to make catches like those.

So far he has not lived up to that paycheck or expectations.

Agholor has 32 catches this year for 282 yards and three scores.

His days in Philly are numbered now and he will likely depart in free agency in the offseason. Presumably, he will be remembered most for his drops, but he will also have 2017 when he lived up to the promise of being a first-round draft pick in 2015.

Agholor had 62 catches for a career-high 768 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had nine receptions for 84 yards in Super Bowl LII.

Right now, though, Agholor looks like a receiver who may have to play on a one-year, prove-it contract.

In other news from Pederson’s new conference on Monday:

  • Jay Ajayi will be integrated into the offense this week in practice, but how much he will play on Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks come to town will depend on Jordan Howard and whether or not he can get approved for contact after suffering a shoulder injury two weeks ago and missing the Patriots game.

By signing Ajayi, the Eagles will now have the right to match any offer Ajayi gets in the offseason. Just in case Ajayi shows he has still has game.

  • Right tackle Lane Johnson is in the concussion protocol. Pederson said that rookie left tackle Andre Dillard will get some first-team reps at right tackle this week in case Johnson cannot get cleared.
  • Pederson indicated that had the Eagles scored a touchdown to pull within 17-16 late in the game, he would have kicked the PAT rather than try for a game-winning two-point conversion.

“Our defense was playing outstanding,” said Pederson. “Outside of the start of the third quarter where they went down and scored, and they scored on a trick play, our defense played really well. They punted the rest of the game, so I felt like at that point you tie the game, get a chance maybe to go to overtime and win it there.”

NOTE: The Eagles stepped up once again in the community and will host the suspended Pleasantville-Camden high school football game on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field. The game between the two schools was suspended on Friday night as gunshots erupted in the stands.

Six men were arrested, one on charges of murder, in connection with the shooting that left three people, including a 10-yard-old boy, wounded.

The game will be closed to the general public, but special passes will be issued to players’ parents and family members.

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