After two disappointing seasons in which he caught a total of 59 passes and three touchdown passes, Nelson Agholor finally found his groove last year.
He finished with 62 receptions and eight touchdowns. He led the team in third-down and red-zone catches.
His breakout season happened to coincide with his move from the outside to the slot. Fifty-four of his 62 receptions came out of the slot.
With Alshon Jeffery still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and Mike Wallace fracturing a fibula last week against the Bucs, Agholor has split time inside and outside in the first two games.
With the signing this week of Jordan Matthews, there's a good chance Agholor is going to line up primarily on the outside for much of the rest of the season. Which begs the question: Can he be as effective out there as he was in the slot last season?
Agholor bristles at the suggestion that he can't excel on the outside.
"I'm a wide receiver,'' he said. "To be able to play inside and outside is something I always wanted to be able to do, and something I did throughout college, and something I want to continue to do here.
"Defenses are going to do what they have to do. At the end of the day, regardless of where you line up, you have to find a way to create separation. And I can do that.''
Agholor is tied with tight end Zach Ertz for the team lead in receptions with 16 but is averaging just 7.6 yards per catch. Eight of his catches have come out of the slot and eight have come outside.
"Nelson has been a really big part of the offense so far in both spots, inside and outside,'' coach Doug Pederson said. "He's done a great job blocking in the run game, and then [catching the ball] in the passing game. Moving him around has been beneficial for us.''
Mike Quick, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Eagles who has been the analyst for the team's radio broadcasts for the last two decades, believes Agholor can be an outstanding outside receiver.
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"I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I think they may be able to get more out of the position with him on the outside,'' Quick said. "I think he can be really productive outside.''
Quick thinks people place too much significance on where a receiver lines up.
"The way I look at it is, he can play the [wide receiver] position,'' Quick said. "And once you can play the position, it doesn't matter whether you line up inside or outside.
"I mean, outside, what do you have to be able to do? You have to be able to beat press coverage. Well, Nelson is probably the best on the team at doing that. You have to separate from people. He's probably the best on the team at doing that. You've got to be able to get in and out of cuts. There's nobody on the team that can do that better than Nelson can. So, to me, it's really not a matter of whether he lines up inside or outside. He's a productive player and he can play the position no matter where you put him.''
Defensive end Michael Bennett is going through an adjustment period getting used to Jim Schwartz's less-is-more approach with respect to rotating his defensive linemen.
Bennett had a first-quarter hit on Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, only to be rotated out. As he went to the sideline, he clearly was perplexed over being removed.
Bennett played 41 percent of the defensive snaps against the Bucs and 64 percent the week before against the Falcons. None of the Eagles' four defensive ends played more than 67 percent of the snaps in either game.
That's just the way Schwartz operates. But it's not what the 32-year-old Bennett is used to. He played 931 snaps for the Seahawks last season. He has been a stay-on-the-field guy most of his career.
Asked about Schwartz's philosophy of rotating his front four, defensive end Brandon Graham said: "At the end of the day, when we have to make a stop on the last drive, it helps to be fresh.
"When you have a rotation like this, you've got to be unselfish. Because you're not going to be in there all the time. You're going to get four plays and then maybe you're out. But I think that helps us out a lot. It preserves your body. Playing 40 snaps a game,it's not like 70-80 snaps. You've got to be unselfish and just be ready when you're in there.''
Said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox: "Michael is a great teammate and special player. We all understand the role that we have on this team and the rotation that we have [up front]. And he's looking forward to being fresh.''
Bennett has declined to talk to reporters this week.
• One of the keys to the Eagles' success last season was their ability to start fast. They outscored opponents in the first quarter, 106-48. Their plus-58 first-quarter point differential was the largest in the NFL. Only the Rams scored more first-quarter points (119), and only the Jaguars, Falcons, and Cowboys allowed fewer. In their first two games this season, they've been outscored 10-0 in the first quarter. In their 19 games last season, including the playoffs, they trailed after the first quarter just four times, and at the half also just four times. They failed to score on either of their first two possessions in just five games. A game-by-game breakdown of their scoring after the first and second quarters last season:
• Carson Wentz was the league's best situational passer last season. He finished first in third-down passing (123.7) and first in red-zone passing (116.0). A league-high 14 of his 33 touchdown passes came on third down.
• The Eagles were the only team in the league last season without a red-zone interception or sack. They did have two red-zone turnovers – a Week 13 fumble by Nick Foles against the Bears, and a Week 14 fumble by Wentz against the Seahawks.
• The Eagles are tied for 16th in rush average (4.0 yards per carry). They are averaging 3.2 yards per carry with "11'' personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3 WR), 6.9 with "12'' (1RB, 2TE, 2WR) and 3.7 with "13'' (1RB, 3TE, 1WR). Thirty-seven of their 51 rushing attempts have been with "11'' personnel.
• Foles was 2-for-4 for 64 yards on aimed throws (doesn't include throwaways or deflected passes) of 20 yards or more against the Bucs. Both completions were to tight ends – 34 yards to Zack Ertz, and 30 yards to Josh Perkins. Foles was 0-for-4 on throws of 20-plus yards in the Eagles' Week 1 win over the Falcons.
• Ertz was targeted 23 times by Foles in the first two games. Just three were throws longer than 10 yards (13 percent). Last year, 27 of the 132 throws targeted for him (20.4 percent) were longer than 10 yards.
• In the Eagles' first two games, just 18.7 percent of their offensive plays have been run from under center. Last year, they ran 30.3 percent from under center during the regular season and 29.3 percent in the playoffs.
• The Eagles' average drive start in the first two games was the 24-yard line. Their opponents' was the 31. That's a 7-yard deficit in average drive start. Last season, the Eagles' average drive-start differential was plus-1.8.
• Ten of Nelson Agholor's 16 receptions in the first two games have gained 4 yards or fewer.
• A week after holding the Falcons' Matt Ryan to no TDs and his lowest completion percentage in seven years, the Eagles' secondary gave up 402 yards and four touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs. Cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby had a bad, awful day, starting with the 75-yard touchdown pass Mills gave up to DeSean Jackson on the Bucs' first offensive play, and ending with a 17-yard completion by Jackson in front of Mills on a critical second-and-13 play late in the game when the Eagles needed to get the ball back. "I didn't play like I was supposed to play,'' Mills said this week. "That was uncharacteristic of me. It wasn't something somebody else did. It was all on me. I'm blessed to have another Sunday [to redeem himself]. This time it's Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. Next week it'll be whomever. Every Sunday you have to be at the top of your game. And if something happens, if you get beat, you've got to put it behind you and move on and fight the next fight.'' Jim Schwartz said earlier in the week that the Eagles' coverage problems against the Bucs were about "sloppy technique.'' Mills agreed. "One hundred percent,'' he said. "It wasn't about somebody else being better. It was all about me. It was all about technique.''
• The biggest gripe Eagles fans have about Jim Schwartz is that he doesn't blitz enough. They adored blitz-happy Jim Johnson but are lukewarm toward Schwartz and his preference for a wide-9 four-man rush. "There is a risk to blitzing,'' Schwartz said earlier this week. "Every time I step on the field or come out of the tunnel, all I hear is, 'Hey Schwartz, you've got to blitz every play. You've got to bring it every play.'' The cries for more blitzing only got louder after the Eagles' Week 1 win over the Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Schwartz called 11 blitzes on 47 pass plays in the game, and they were extremely effective. Ryan completed just three of eight passes, threw an interception and was sacked three times when the Eagles sent extra rushers. But the blitz wasn't nearly as effective last week against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs. Schwartz blitzed on seven of 35 pass plays. Fitzpatrick was 6-for-7 for 152 yards and one touchdown — that game-opening 75-yarder to DeSean Jackson. Fitzpatrick's game-clinching 17-yard completion to Jackson on second-and-13 also came on a blitz.
• Before the Colts hired him in February to be their head coach, Frank Reich spent two years as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. Some people think that will give the Colts a bit of an advantage Sunday when Reich faces his former team. Reich acknowledged that his familiarity with Doug Pederson's offense helps, but how much he's not sure. "I really don't think it's as much of an advantage as some people might think because I didn't spend hours with our defense trying to explain every little nuance of the [Eagles] offense and what those guys are trying to do,'' he said. "I talked about some of the [Eagles] players. I talked a little bit about a few philosophical things. But my experience over and over again being in these situations is that it usually is overplayed. You give a couple of nuggets and then you go play ball.''