"I think he'll be so much better this year. I think it'll be night and day. The fact that he has Greg Lewis as a receivers coach will help him tremendously. G-Lew made himself in the NFL. He made himself into an NFL player. When you do that and put in the work to become an NFL player, you know how to help a guy get from where he is to where he needs to be."
- Mike Quick on Nelson Agholor in early February
MIKE QUICK'S high offseason hopes for Nelson Agholor have dissolved into harsh late-November reality.
Ten games into what the Eagles had hoped would be the young wide receiver's breakout season, he is playing so poorly and his confidence has become so brittle that it's not even certain he'll be activated for Monday night's important game against the Packers. And even if he is, his playing time probably will be limited.
Agholor, who was the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft, had just 23 receptions as a rookie and has just 27 this season. He is averaging a puny 9.8 yards per catch and has just one touchdown and 12 receiving first downs.
He has three drops in the last four games and cost the Eagles a touchdown in last week's loss to Seattle when he failed to line up close enough to the line of scrimmage, drawing an illegal formation penalty.
As disconcerting as his play has been, the effect his struggles are having on his confidence has become an even bigger concern to the Eagles organization. His surprising admission to reporters after the Seahawks game that the pressure of his job and his failure to live up to first-round expectations was getting to him is just not something you hear many professional athletes publicly cop to.
By Friday, though, he insisted all was good.
"At the end of the day, what you deposit in practice, you cash out on game day, and you have to trust that," he said. "That's what I'm going to do. I need to know that I'm putting that work in every day. Whoever knows me on this team and in this organization, they know I prepare hard.
"It's also about just having fun on (game day). Not worrying about outcomes. Not worrying about (getting) seven catches. If you only get three or four catches, you know you put in the work to be the player that could've gotten seven catches. That's how your mindset will be. And then everything else will follow."
The "just have fun" philosophy sounds great in theory, but basically is crap. The other thing is, working hard never has been Agholor's problem. One of the reasons Chip Kelly drafted him in the first round last year was because of his "growth mindset."
Quick, like Agholor, also was the 20th pick in the draft, albeit 33 years earlier. Like Agholor, he struggled his rookie season, catching just 10 passes in a strike-shortened season.
But that's where the similarity ends. Quick's career took off in his second season. Caught 69 passes for a league-high 1,409 yards and 13 touchdowns and never looked back. Went to five Pro Bowls in nine seasons before injuries ended his career prematurely.
"When I watch Nelson Agholor, I see a lot of skills that he just has not been able to realize at this level," said Quick, who has been the Eagles' radio analyst for the last 18 years.
"To me, I will echo what he said after the game last week. That it's starting to be a mental thing with him. Because the speed, the hands in practice, the explosion, he has all of that. He has all of the tools physically to be a very good receiver in this league."
Quick thought Lewis, a self-made player who spent eight years in the NFL, including six with the Eagles, would be able to maximize Agholor's talents. But that hasn't happened. At least not yet. And the clock is ticking.
The more Agholor has struggled, the more he has pressed. Fear of failure has become a more difficult enemy to beat than any cornerback who has lined up in front of him this season.
Last week, he beat the Seahawks' Richard Sherman with a nifty move that left him wide open in the middle of the field. Carson Wentz put the ball right in his hands, 20 yards down field.
And he dropped it.
"When you see what's going on with Nelson, it usually happens in the twilight stages of a guy's career," Quick said. "Where he's just lost. He's been through the war too many times and he's shell-shocked and he just doesn't have it anymore.
"I saw it with Lindsay Scott when we brought him here late in his career. Even a great receiver like James Lofton, late in his career, he couldn't hang on to the football.
"So, you see it in the twilight (of careers). You don't see it very often this early with a guy who hasn't yet gone through all the battles that a guy who's played 8-10 years in the league has gone through."
Quick doesn't feel Agholor's problems are insurmountable. He believes he can stare down his demons and regain his confidence and become a very good receiver.
"It's something he's going to need to play through," Quick said. "I don't know what the (playing time) decision will be Monday night for him. But he just needs to be able to play through it to where he's catching the ball and has his confidence back.
"He just has to get some successes. Get to where he's comfortable in his own skin as an NFL wide receiver. When he gets to that point, he'll be OK.
"It takes a lot of heart to play the (wide receiver) position. You've got to think a lot of yourself because it takes a lot to play the position.
"To drop a pass, you know that everybody is watching you and just saw that, it can get to you. It can really affect you deep. You want to crawl under the carpet. You don't want anyone to see you. It can really affect your psyche.
"My fear is that that's where he is right now. And the only way to get beyond that is to play through it, have successes. Once he starts to have some successes, then he can start to forget about some of those drops and can concentrate on the positive plays that he's made. Then he'll start to grow. Until that happens, he's going to have issues."