clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What the Eagles should do at running back

Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Today we continue our Philadelphia Eagles roster outlook series by examining the running back position. Previously: Defensive end | Defensive tackle | Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Quarterback.

THE PLAYERS

MILES SANDERS

STATS: 602 snaps, 164 carries, 867 yards, 5.3 average, 6 TD ... 52 targets, 28 receptions, 197 yards, 7.0 average, 0 TD ... 4 fumbles

REVIEW: After showing star potential down the stretch in 2019, there was excitement about Sanders taking a big step forward in Year 2. But that didn’t exactly happen. Sanders did improve his rushing efficiency due to a number of explosive runs that showcased his big-play ability. His volume stats could’ve been gaudier if the coaching staff was willing to ride him harder ... and the game script didn’t often have the Eagles trailing. But I’d argue Sanders’ usage wasn’t the most disappointing part about his 2020 season. Rather, it’s how he took a big step back as a pass-catcher. Carson Wentz deserves some blame in this regard since there were some plays when Sanders was open down the field (Week 3 comes to mind) and the quarterback merely overthrew his target. But Sanders also contributed to his regression with a league-high eight passes dropped. Sanders also allowed the fourth-most pressures of any running back in pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus. Sanders’ four fumbles ranked tied for third-most in the league and that was with a considerably lower workload than the top two players.

OUTLOOK: Sanders, who turns 24 in May, is undoubtedly young and talented. There’s reason to be optimistic about his future. The new coaching staff needs to find a way to get him more successfully involved in the passing attack. Sanders also needs to expel issues with pass protection and fumbling, which were concerns about him coming out of Penn State.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

Miles Sanders: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Stay
    (3509 votes)
  • 2%
    Go
    (104 votes)
3613 votes total Vote Now

BOSTON SCOTT

STATS: 384 snaps, 80 carries, 374 yards, 4.7 average, 1 TD ... 36 targets, 25 receptions, 212 yards, 8.5 average, 1 TD ... 2 fumbles

REVIEW: Scott was pretty solid for No. 2 running back standards. He was efficient as a runner. His yards per reception mark ranked 10th at his position and he didn’t drop a pass. The diminutive Scott was subpar in pass protection with seven total pressures allowed, which ranked tied for ninth-most among running backs.

OUTLOOK: Scott, who turns 26 in April, is an exclusive-rights free agent this offseason. This means the Eagles will likely offer him a minimum contract and he’ll have to accept it. After seeing the success Nyheim Hines has had in Indy, maybe Nick Sirianni can help get similar production out of BoSco.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

Boston Scott: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Stay
    (3049 votes)
  • 11%
    Go
    (395 votes)
3444 votes total Vote Now

COREY CLEMENT

STATS: 108 snaps, 21 carries, 75 yards, 3.6 average, 1 TD ... 6 targets, 5 receptions, 25 yards, 5.0 average, 0 TD ... 0 fumbles

REVIEW: The Eagles declined to tender Clement as a restricted free agent last offseason. Then they re-signed him after he failed to garner any interest on the market. On the bright side, Clement had his healthiest season in some time. But his opportunities to touch the ball were limited and he didn’t really make the most of them.

OUTLOOK: Clement should always be revered for leading the Eagles in receiving yards in Super Bowl LII. But he just hasn’t done much since long ago. The Eagles should let him walk in free agency this offseason. Maybe he can find a landing spot on the Detroit Lions with Duce Staley there now.

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Corey Clement: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Stay
    (416 votes)
  • 87%
    Go
    (2902 votes)
3318 votes total Vote Now

JASON HUNTLEY

STATS: 31 snaps, 5 carries, 19 yards, 3.8 average, 0 TD ... 2 targets, 1 reception, 0 yards ... 0 fumbles

REVIEW: The Eagles claimed Huntley, a 2020 fifth-round pick, off waivers from the Lions in September. The 22-year-old didn’t play much as a rookie.

OUTLOOK: Huntley lacks size but he has a great athletic profile. There’s some potential to work with here. Maybe he can develop into a returner and offensive role player? Huntley will have to earn his spot on the 2021 roster with a good offseason.

MY TAKE: Stay.

Poll

Jason Huntley: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Stay
    (1341 votes)
  • 54%
    Go
    (1604 votes)
2945 votes total Vote Now

JORDAN HOWARD

STATS: 18 snaps, 7 carries, 27 yards, 3.9 average, 0 TD ... 0 targets ... 0 fumbles

REVIEW: The Eagles added Howard to their practice squad when they were 3-6-1. They wasted touches on him instead of seeing what they had in some of their younger guys. Cool.

OUTLOOK: Howard finished the season on the practice squad and the Eagles didn’t re-sign him so he’s currently a free agent available to sign with any team. No real reason for Philly to bring him when they can move forward with their younger options that might have more upside.

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Jordan Howard: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Stay
    (703 votes)
  • 77%
    Go
    (2371 votes)
3074 votes total Vote Now

ADRIAN KILLINS

STATS: 8 snaps, 1 carry, -12 yards, 0 TD ... 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards ... 0 fumbles

REVIEW: People got excited about Killins after the Eagles signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent. Fans were enamored by his speed. But that attribute alone wasn’t enough for him to make the team as he spent most of the season on the practice squad. He failed to produce during his only playing time in Week 4.

OUTLOOK: Killins will have a chance to compete for a roster spot this season. The odds are stacked against him as his diminutive size will likely prevent him from having a meaningful NFL career.

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Adrian Killins: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Stay
    (511 votes)
  • 80%
    Go
    (2138 votes)
2649 votes total Vote Now

ELIJAH HOLYFIELD

REVIEW: Holyfield had a nice camp and there was thought he might make the 53-man roster as the fourth running back. The Eagles instead kept Holyfield on the practice squad for most of the season.

OUTLOOK: Holyfield fits the Jordan Howard mold. Maybe the 23-year-old will be able to earn a roster spot with a good offseason. But he’ll probably be on the outs depending on who else the team adds.

MY TAKE: Go.

Poll

Elijah Holyfield: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Stay
    (1202 votes)
  • 54%
    Go
    (1431 votes)
2633 votes total Vote Now

FREE AGENCY OR TRADES

The Eagles aren’t going to be spending any kind of serious resources on running back in free agency. Maybe they add a vet minimum body.

Marlon Mack has ties to the Eagles. New running backs coach Jemal Singleton was his position coach in 2017. Nick Sirianni was his offensive coordinator from 2018 through 2020. Mack is coming off an Achilles tear so it’s unclear what his market will look like. I’d think he’ll be looking for a bigger role than what he’ll be offered in Philly ... but the 24-year-old could be worth taking a shot on if he comes cheap.

Samaje Perine could be a more realistic target in terms of low cost and role expectation. Perine was efficient (4.8 yards per attempt) under Singleton as his running backs coach on the Cincinnati Bengals last year.

NFL DRAFT APPROACH

The Eagles could afford to use a Day 3 pick on a running back with the depth chart unsettled behind Sanders and Scott. Or perhaps they’ll just sign a few undrafted rookie free agent running backs, as they’ve done in recent years.