Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told reporters Monday that he is concerned about wide receiver Nelson Agholor and hinted that he might reduce his role in order to get him in a better state of mind.
"Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward," Pederson said. "That way you can begin to clear your head."
In a move that could be related, the Eagles signed receiver Paul Turner off their practice squad and released cornerback Aaron Grymes.
Agholor made some revealing comments about his mental state following a pair of costly miscues in Sunday's 25-15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Eagles appeared to take the lead on a 57-yard catch-and-run by tight end Zach Ertz midway through the second quarter. On the opposite side of the play, however, Agholor was whistled for an illegal formation penalty for lining up off the line of scrimmage, negating the score.
On the ensuing series, Agholor dropped a perfect pass from quarterback Carson Wentz deep over the middle, stalling another drive. The Seahawks built their lead to nine over that span and clamped down on a banged-up Eagles offense the rest of the way.
"I've got to get out of my own head," said Agholor. "Pressing so much and worried about so much. ... I'm thinking too much and so worried, and it's such a selfish thing that I need 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. Just have fun.
"I did it to myself. I started getting in my own head and just trying so hard to think about being perfect, and when miscues were there and they were exposed, I just let it eat at me."Nelson Agholor, after the Eagles' loss to the Seahawks
"I did it to myself. I started getting in my own head and just trying so hard to think about being perfect, and when miscues were there and they were exposed, I just let it eat at me."
Agholor talked about the need to stop the "mental battle" he is going through.
After hearing those comments, Pederson said that he is concerned about Agholor's "well-being as a person." He plans on having a sit-down with the 23-year-old and will not make a decision about whether to pull back on his playing time until they have that conversation.
Agholor entered the game ranked 120th in receiving yards (264) and with a drop rate of 6.5 percent, which ranks 125th in the NFL, per ESPN Stats & Information research. He now has four drops on the season.
"Well, again, it's all speculation, obviously, but I think sometimes as athletes, you put so much pressure on yourself to perform," Pederson said. "Then when it maybe doesn't quite work out in your favor, [the] outside influences, i.e., the media and fans, put more pressure on you to perform [because] you're a top pick and you need to perform. All that pressure on a player is not good. So in Nelson's case, sometimes like I mentioned, sometimes maybe you have to take a step back and maybe you have to see it differently and view it differently. These are all conversations that he and I will have this week. And again, the wellbeing of the player and the person [is more important] to me than [his performance] as an athlete and receiver."
Pederson said it's not a matter of effort.
"I've seen him trying to just do things a little out of character for him, and that's obviously a sign that maybe things are not going well for him," he said. "As athletes, you've got to let the game sort of come to you, and I feel like he's maybe pressing just a little bit and trying to do things -- and he's doing everything right. Listen, he's working hard. He's getting work after practice and doing everything right. We're just going to continue to work."