Worrying Time: Phillies Lose Again, The Doctor Is Not Well

Worrying Time: Phillies Lose Again, The Doctor Is Not Well

No excuses left, sadly.

It wasn't a couple of flukes. It wasn't
the catcher. It wasn't bad luck with the long ball, and it wasn't Doc
needing a couple starts to round into form. Roy Halladay of April 2013
is simply not the Roy Halladay of 2010-11. The question is if he ever
will be again, and from the returns tonight, it's hard to be terribly
optimistic.

Needless to say after this gloom-and-doom intro, the
Doctor got hit hard tonight. A three-run shot from John Bonds Aaron
Killebrew Buck on a pitch Roy left dead-red in the zone in the second
was all that was really needed, but more discouraging to me was when the
Phillies finally got on the board with a scraped-together run in the
bottom of the fourth, and after having a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, Doc
gave the run right back in the next inning on a double and a single in
just the blink of an eye, when in years prior he'd have just started
hitting his groove and mowing hitters down with mechanical
inevitability. In the end, Roy gave up seven in just four innings of
work, two of which were cashed in off Chad "Hey, you made your bed, you
lie in it" Durbin when he relieved the Doctor in that 5th innning. The
Phils lost 7-2.

Nothing about this was encouraging.

The
three-run homer, the bad start to the fifth, those were the worst of it,
but they weren't the whole picture. Doc was missing wide and low all
night, and missing badly--the ESPN crew on the telecast even showed one
pitch to Quintero during warmups that sailed about a foot to the left.
For the second-straight starts, he walked three batters, something he
only did once in all of 2011. The body language was bad, the
communication was bad, everything was bad, bad, bad. Bad Roy Halladay.
You never thought you'd see the day, and certainly not this soon.

And
not like the Phillies really needed a contrasting example, but Matt
Harvey was certainly willing to provide one tonight. The Mets' young
starter certainly appears to have all the trappings of an ace in the
making, a zipping fastball, excellent location and a confidence (yes,
fine, swagger) belying his 23 years. He struck out nine, only
walked one, and gave up just one run on three hits--two if you don't
count that lazy Ike Davis throw to first that Chase easily beat out.
He's a starter the Phillies are going to have to reckon with for many
years to come, as if there weren't already enough of those to go around
in the NL East.

And of course, one of those pitchers used to be
Roy Halladay. But after his first two starts of the season, expecting
that guy to magically reappear anytime soon doesn't seem particularly
realistic. Maybe he's somehow hurt and there's something that can be
done to fix him. Maybe it's mental and there are ways he can unburden
himself. Maybe he just needs to accept there are certain things he can't
do anymore, and use his legendary drive and work ethic to find out how
to maximize his success with the tools he has left. Maybe it's a
combination of all three.

I don't pretend to know the answers. I
just know what everybody else now knows--that the guy wearing #34 for
the Fightins tonight was not the guy who threw a no-hitter in his
first-ever post-season start, who perfecto'd the Marlins on a late
Saturday afternoon in May, who averaged 20 wins a game over his first
two seasons in Philadelphia and seemed a safe pencil-in for about that
many more every year he took the mound in the Red and White. And I have
no idea what the Phillies are going to do without him.

Snap counts: Nelson Agholor plays whole game vs. Bengals

Snap counts: Nelson Agholor plays whole game vs. Bengals

CINCINNATI -- Just six days after being a healthy scratch against the Packers, Nelson Agholor didn't just play against the Bengals. He didn't just start either. 

He played all 80 snaps on Sunday afternoon in the 32-14 loss at Paul Brown Stadium. 

Agholor, 23, had an awful game in Seattle a couple weeks ago and then said he was in his own head as the pressure of the NFL was seemingly crushing him. So head coach Doug Pederson gave him a day off. 

On Sunday, Agholor tied a career-high with four catches that went for just 23 yards. 

With Jordan Matthews out with an ankle injury, undrafted rookie Paul Turner got significant playing time. Turner played a career-high 41 snaps (51 percent), while Bryce Treggs got just two snaps. With Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing most of the game, there wasn't much left for Treggs. 

Zach Ertz played 70 snaps and had nine catches on 15 targets. Trey Burton played 53 snaps, which was likely a result of not having Matthews. 

In the running back rotation, Darren Sproles led the way with 44 snaps, while Wendell Smallwood had 24 and Kenjon Barner had 13. Ryan Mathews missed his second straight game with an MCL sprain. 

On defense, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod played the entire game, which has been customary. 

In somewhat of a surprise, Leodis McKelvin led corners with 55 snaps (86 percent). Nolan Carroll had 51 and rookie Jalen Mills, who had been playing significant time, got just 23. 

The Eagles weren't in nickel all game, so Mychal Kendricks played 26 snaps, while Jaylen Watkins played 39. 

Here are full snap counts from Sunday afternoon: 

Offense
Brandon Brooks: 80 snaps (100 percent)
Allen Barbre: 80 (100)
Jason Kelce: 80 (100)
Stefen Wisniewski: 80 (100)
Jason Peters: 80 (100)
Carson Wentz: 80 (100)
Nelson Agholor: 80 (100)
Zach Ertz: 70 (88)
Trey Burton: 53 (66)
Dorial Green-Beckham: 50 (62)
Darren Sproles: 44 (55)
Paul Turner: 41 (51)
Wendell Smallwood: 24 (30)
Brent Celek: 19 (24)
Kenjon Barner: 13 (16)
Isaac Seumalo: 4 (5)
Bryce Treggs: 2 (2)

Defense
Malcolm Jenkins: 64 snaps (100 percent)
Rodney McLeod: 64 (100)
Jordan Hicks: 63 (98)
Nigel Bradham: 61 (95)
Leodis McKelvin: 55 (86)
Nolan Carroll: 51 (80)
Brandon Graham: 49 (77)
Fletcher Cox: 47 (73)
Connor Barwin: 42 (66)
Jaylen Watkins: 39 (61)
Bennie Logan: 37 (58)
Vinny Curry: 26 (41)
Mychal Kendricks: 26 (41)
Jalen Mills: 23 (36)
Beau Allen: 22 (34)
Marcus Smith: 18 (28)
Destiny Vaeao: 16 (25)
Stephen Tulloch: 1 (2)

Nelson Agholor takes step in right direction in return to action

Nelson Agholor takes step in right direction in return to action

CINCINNATI — Nelson Agholor took a step forward on Sunday afternoon.

It was a baby step, but it was still a step.

The Eagles’ first-round pick from a year ago started in Sunday’s 32-14 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium six days after being a healthy scratch — call it a mental health day — against the Packers.

Two weeks ago, Agholor, 23, had an awful day in Seattle, after which he admitted that he was in his own head. It appeared the pressure of being in the NFL had become overwhelming.

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to sit Agholor in the Packers game, but he didn’t have much of a choice on Sunday with Jordan Matthews’ ankle injury.

“I felt good competing again, just getting the chance to lace it up and go out there felt great,” Agholor said. “I had fun doing it and now I just have to build on it.”

It wasn’t a great day for Agholor, but it wasn’t an awful one either. He tied a career-high with four catches that went for just 23 yards. He was the Eagles’ sixth-leading receiver on a day when the offense struggled mightily.

But he caught the football, didn’t have a drop and didn’t have any major mental blunders. Yes, the bar is low.

“I thought it was a great time to get out there, got to touch the ball a bit, caught some passes, caught some contested ones,” Agholor said. “And now it's just about finding a way to take the next step for myself. Watch the game with a critical eye and continue to grow as a football player.”

Since the Eagles drafted Agholor with the 20th overall pick in 2015, he’s been a colossal disappointment. During Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Bengals, Agholor quietly surpassed his receiving yards total from his rookie season. In 2016, he has 287 yards on 31 catches.

Perhaps that means there’s been improvement, but not really. The Eagles were counting on Agholor to become a viable option for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and that hasn’t happened. In fact, at times, Agholor has made a negative impact.

Undrafted rookie Paul Turner, in his second career game on Sunday, caught six passes for 80 yards, both surpassing career highs for Agholor, who has been a starter since he joined the Eagles.

“The most important thing for me is to focus on me right now,” Agholor said when asked if the Eagles are giving maximum effort. “And I want to give unmatched effort and have great focus in the classroom and let it translate to football games.”

Agholor said there wasn’t some grand announcement from Pederson telling him that he was going to be active for Sunday. More or less, that announcement was inferred thanks to Matthews' injury status and Agholor’s practice load during the week.

No, it wasn’t Pro Bowl stuff from Agholor on Sunday. Four catches for 23 yards isn’t going to ever be good enough. But he was at least able to take a baby step forward.

He wasn’t too nervous either.

“I was blessed, to be honest with you,” he said. “Put the shoulder pads on, the helmet on again. The lesson that I truly thought I learned from last week was something that I loved so much, I didn't have an opportunity to do. So now, I didn't care if I just ran go-routes every play and the ball didn't come my way. As long as I got to put my cleats on and play with my teammates and play the game that I've loved for so long, I was happy about it.”