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Domo: Eagles' Agholor comes to grips with drops

SEATTLE - This was supposed to be Nelson Agholor's breakout season. This was supposed to be the season that made everyone forget about his struggles as a rookie.

Eagles’ Nelson Agholor (right) takes a swipe at Seahawks' Kam Chancellor.
Eagles’ Nelson Agholor (right) takes a swipe at Seahawks' Kam Chancellor.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

SEATTLE - This was supposed to be Nelson Agholor's breakout season. This was supposed to be the season that made everyone forget about his struggles as a rookie.

But it hasn't worked out that way. And with every additional drop, with every new mistake he makes, the pressure keeps building inside him and threatens to destroy the 2015 first-round pick.

"I just have to get out of my own head," the Eagles wide receiver said Sunday after yet another poor performance in the Eagles' 26-15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. "I'm pressing so much and worried about so many things, I have to go out and catch the ball. Because I'm thinking too much and so worried, and it's a selfish thing that needs to stop.

"I need to give my energy to my teammates and this organization and not myself and feeling so pressured to make every single thing. (I need to) just have fun."

Agholor, who had only two catches for 7 yards in last week's win over Atlanta, was shut out Sunday for the first time this season. Targeted three times, he didn't have a catch.

Dropped a big one. What should have been a 20-yard completion in the second quarter. It was his fourth drop of the season.

One possession earlier, he made an even bigger gaffe. With the Eagles trailing, 13-7, he failed to line up properly and drew an illegal formation penalty that wiped out a 57-yard touchdown catch-and-run by tight end Zach Ertz that would have given the Eagles the lead at the time.

The Eagles were in a three-wide receiver set with Agholor and two other receivers in a "bunch" formation. Agholor is the point man in that formation and is supposed to have his foot on the line of scrimmage. But he didn't.

"I tried to hug the line, but I didn't do the first thing first, which was check with the official," he said. "We were in a bunch situation where usually I'm the point guy, and everybody else is behind me.

"I hugged the line to the best of my ability and tried to survey the defense instead of (doing) the first thing first, which was look at the line judge."

The line judge typically will motion to the receivers to move up if they're not on the line. But Agholor wasn't paying attention.

"Obviously, a big play in the game that negated a touchdown and hurt us in that situation," head coach Doug Pederson said. "We just have to be a little more aware in those situations and make sure all our guys are in the proper position.

"It's a little bit him (Agholor), it's a little bit the quarterback (Carson Wentz), a little bit me. I've got to make sure everybody understands situational football and formations and the type of things we do. We just have to coach that better."

What the Eagles need more than anything is for Agholor to play better. They need him to be the player Pederson's predecessor, Chip Kelly, thought he was last year when he spent the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft on the former USC wideout.

Agholor has only 27 catches this season. He's averaging a puny 9.8 yards per catch. Hasn't had more than four catches or 60 yards in a game this season. Had a touchdown catch in the Eagles' Week 1 win over Cleveland and hasn't had one since.

"I hate losing," Agholor said after the game. I hate losing. But more importantly, I hate not competing at the level that I know that me as an individual can compete at.

"It's not about the effort. It's sometimes about mentally being in my own head, and taking away what advantage I need to give to my teammates.

"It's a fight. It's a fight every day. This game is a tough game. At times, mentally, I can put myself in a storm. But I need to jump out of the storm."

Sunday's drop was Agholor's fourth of the season. That's actually three fewer than teammate Jordan Matthews. But Matthews is the Eagles' most productive receiver. You can excuse a drop here and there when a guy is making plays. Agholor isn't.

"I'm going to keep encouraging the kid," Pederson said. "He works hard every single day. I'm gonna keep talking to him, keep loving on him, keep encouraging him.

"By no means am I going to be down on him. This loss today was on me. I've got to make sure I'm doing everything I can to get these guys ready to play."

Pederson can't afford to have one of his starting wide receivers wallowing in self-pity, though. He can't afford to have him worrying about what people are saying and writing and tweeting about him.

"Anytime that a player goes through a little bit of a rough spell, it can play on the psyche of a player," Pederson said. "From my standpoint as a coach, I've got to continue to encourage him and keep putting him out there and keep trusting him and keep working and keep fighting. Because he's part of our team and we've got to keep plugging away.

"He's got to fight through it. He's got to learn to not listen to the outside world and focus on the internal and focus on just getting better."

Matthews talked to Agholor on the sideline after the second-quarter drop. He has talked to him at practice and in the locker room. He has told him he can't get down on himself.

"It's a humbling game," he said. "It's humbling to me. It's humbling to everyone in the locker room. I told him, you don't know what the next play might be.

"When Carson drops back, he's not seeing who is this? He's going through checks, he's going through reads. You never know when that ball might come back to you.

"So I was like, 'You need to make sure you stay in it and put that last play behind you.' Because we need him. He was a big part of the game plan this week."

A big part of the game plan who didn't catch a single pass.

"It's unfortunate," Matthews said. "You don't want to see anybody go through that. I hate to see him have to deal with that on a mental basis. At the same time, he has to put it behind him and move forward. That's the only thing you can do."

"I don't know what he reads. I don't know what he looks at. I told him, don't read any of that stuff. One, it's not healthy. Two, at the end of the day, you have to know the truth. If you're going out there and working hard and making plays at practice and you have to transfer that over to the game, the worst thing you can do is bring a whole bunch of other stuff outside of the game and outside of practice and outside of your job to your job.

"Then you're trying not just to go out there and catch the ball. You're trying to go and impress a whole bunch of people who, honestly, at the end of the day, it's play-by-play with them."