Eagles Running Back Miles Sanders missed all of the 2017 season after breaking his ankle in the preseason. With the Eagles selecting a running back in the first round of the 2018 draft, it’s no surprise that the team is hoping that the rookie will be able to help them win a few games this season.
Miles Sanders is primed for a major breakout season.
In the NFL, the most valuable position is the running back, and the Eagles have one of the best in the league in LeGarrette Blount. Now, they have an even more talented back in Miles Sanders. After a promising rookie season, Sanders was a forgotten man last year, as the Eagles drafted a running back in the first round and a safety in the second round. However, that was a misstep for a team that has a tremendous amount of talent at the position. Sanders was highly productive as a rookie, with 546 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and he is poised to have a breakout season in 2018.
Miles Sanders has had a roller coaster ride with the Philadelphia Eagles so far.
The former Penn State running back had to earn first-team reps as a rookie. Sanders burst with production down the stretch after establishing himself as a dependable go-to runner for the Eagles.
Despite starting just 11 games, Sanders completed the season with 1,327 total scrimmage yards and six touchdowns.
Fast forward to 2020, and Sanders has taken a significant backward step. With 1,064 total scrimmage yards and an awful 53.8 percent catch rate, he battled with drop problems and general health. Sanders’ troubles as a sophomore were a significant factor for the Eagles’ four-win season in 2020.
Some anticipate a big year for the fast RB in his third season as a pro, under the direction of a new head coach and offensive coordinator.
Miles Sanders of the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN writer Tim McManus, is a big breakthrough possibility.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Miles Sanders | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
The outlook for the 2021 Eagles is cloudy and uncertain. Regardless, according to at least one ESPN writer, the team’s starting RB should be regarded a big breakthrough possibility.
Tim McManus outlines a few reasons to be bullish about Sanders in the future. He begins by highlighting the RB’s allegedly better health:
Sanders, 24, missed Week 1 of last season’s season due to a hamstring injury he suffered during training camp. Then, in October, he injured his knee against the Baltimore Ravens and had to miss the following two weeks. He never seemed to be fully right. The Eagles established an NFL record by having 13 different offensive line combinations in the first 14 weeks due to a spate of injuries along the offensive line.
“Man, my trust in this offensive line is over the roof,” Sanders said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I’m not going to lie to you. With this O-line, we can perform a lot of unique things. They are aware of this, as is everyone else in the building. We’ll just go with the flow.”
ESPN’s Tim McManus
Jalen Hurts, Nick Sirianni, and Kenneth Gainwell all had excellent statistics.
According to McManus, there are more reasons to be optimistic about Sanders heading into year three (alongside his improved health).
In 2020, Sanders’ big-play ability was exceptional, quarterback Jalen Hurts is a runner (which will cause defenses to focus less on Sanders), Nick Sirianni comes from a heavy run offense in Indianapolis, and rookie Kenneth Gainwell is expected to be the team’s primary receiving back, which will relieve pressure on Sanders in an area where he struggles.
Sanders could get 20+ touches each game from Sirianni, who will be mainly running behind the Eagles’ above-average offensive line. Sanders is unquestionably being set up to succeed, especially with Hurts’ occasional read option.
Miles Sanders is under a lot of pressure to live up to the Eagles’ expectations.
On paper, everything seems to be in order. However, the truth is that Sanders still has to show that he can be the team’s workhorse running back.
His significant drop problems continued throughout training camp and the preseason, which is worrisome, and he has yet to play a complete season from start to finish. Sanders may have additional injury problems coming season, as the NFL’s schedule expands to 17 games.
If Sanders fails to make an impact for the Eagles in 2021, as McManus predicts, the club will likely invest in a new starting running back the following summer. Sanders isn’t getting any younger, and running backs are seldom re-signed by the club that drafted them.
Meanwhile, everything is in place for Sanders to have his greatest year ever. The Eagles contributed their fair share. It’s now up to Sanders to make good on his part of the deal.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
Following Zach Ertz’s surprising announcement, the Philadelphia Eagles quietly considered trading one of their top young stars to the Minnesota Vikings.
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