As we still have a few weeks until preseason, I am going to take a look at some random Eagles and discuss my thoughts on them, their contract situation and what I think of think of them moving forward with the Eagles. This week it is Miles Sanders, who I think is a really interesting player to look at considering opinions on him seem to be all over the place.
By the numbers
2021 advanced stats
All from PFF. Only includes running backs with 20% of the run attempts so it is out of 61 players.
- 70 PFF grade, ranks 29th.
- 71.4 PFF grade, ranks 35th.
- 5.5 yards per attempt, ranks 5th.
- 2.88 yards after contact per attempt, ranks 29th.
- 21 missed tackles forced, ranks 35th.
- 21 runs of 10+ yards, ranks 16th.
- PFF has a ‘breakaway’ %, Sanders was 34%, which ranks 5th.
- 66 receiving PFF grade, ranks 15th.
- 57 pass blocking PFF grade, ranks 44th.
- Ran 203 routes last year, ranks 31st.
- 170 receiving routes, ranks 39th.
- 1 drop (I seem to remember more), ranks 34th.
+ Talent is absolutely undeniable. Has ‘wow’ runs frequently that not many other backs in the league could produce.
Watching the Eagles run game for a future piece (wild Sunday night) and Miles Sanders jumps off the screen every single game. pic.twitter.com/RYAvdxeWEM— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 3, 2020
+ Can make you miss in the whole or in the open field, good acceleration and spin move
I think this was one of Sanders best games as an Eagle. He still frustrates slightly with footwork/vision but he had some plays like this that pop off the screen. This is turning a blown play and a 2 yard loss into a 5 yard gain. When he plays fast he looks so explosive. pic.twitter.com/06xfLiAyUx— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 7, 2021
Big boy run. Eagles went under center a lot earlier - no surprise as read option from gun not effective without Hurts. Fast decision making here from Sanders on zone run. Cuts inside rather than bounce it. Uses his blockers to bounce outside and then finishes physically. pic.twitter.com/BnXFZ6DXQK— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 7, 2021
+ Has improved his vision since his rookie year. Does show the ability to follow his blocks more than he did as a rookie
This block by Kelce is too good not to share again. My goodness. What a great play overall by the OL though. Pin/Pull run, Stoll, Goedert & Maliata all outstanding to create a seam. Hurts mobility & thread completely takes 56 out of the play. Good vision by Sanders too. pic.twitter.com/kbSpPmMdum— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 23, 2021
Ooof. What a run. Kelce/Maliata pull but takes a while for hole to develop. Sanders doesn't press, is patient, then bursts through after a key block from Lane on Mosley. Then he shows great vision, speed and balance to pick up a big chunk. Protects the ball well too! pic.twitter.com/KgbhTBExjW— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 7, 2021
+ Has ‘home run ability’. He can score from anywhere on the field. You can never have too many explosive players on offense…
This is one of my favorite runs of all time…
+ Has shown receiving ability in previous seasons. Was not used much in this area last year though
The Eagles’ first TD of the game as Wentz finds Sanders up the seam pic.twitter.com/7YmcqvhCmy— Tyler Jackson (@TJack94) October 13, 2019
Who can forget this one?
In case you want one more angle on the Carson Wentz TD pass to Miles Sanders. This from the coaches film.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) December 17, 2019
Even in slow-mo, it's still got some heat on it. pic.twitter.com/8gRv1ht4Al
+ Has the quickness and acceleration to get skinny and dart through small holes
Eagles All22 Offense thread v. Raiders Immediately from the start of the game, it was obvious Sirianni had changed his approach. Run first. Under center. Offense had a really different look and it was successful early on. Sanders ran behind Maliata/Dickerson frequently. pic.twitter.com/AnA1qkEqWK— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 26, 2021
Eagles All22 offense thread v. Giants. This could be an interesting one! Lets start by looking at Dickerson moving defenders to create a hole for Sanders. He's going to be fun to watch in the run game for a long time. Good to see Sanders hit the hole quickly too. pic.twitter.com/KIceg3wLHZ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 28, 2021
- Has benefitted from running behind a top offensive line throughout his career. Not necessarily a ‘weakness’ but something worth remembering.
Rumour has it Jason Kelce is still pushing this linebacker back right now... when the team committed to the running the ball at the end they looked pretty effective doing so against a great run defense pic.twitter.com/pfODQcifnh— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 18, 2021
- Needs to be more patient at times and wait for his blocks to develop. Has improved this area since his rookie year but still leaves yards on the field
Eagles really tried to commit to the run early & got nothing going except designed QB runs. I would have liked to see some more Jordan Howard at times to try to stay on schedule. Also, Sanders needs to be more patient here and cut this backside - a late gap opens up. pic.twitter.com/CGfgdvuiXN— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 18, 2022
- Still bounces too many runs outside and doesn’t follow his blocks. Not a consistent runner
Getting to 2nd half now... I am starting to find Sanders a frustrating runner. I'm no expert in RB vision & understand this is a close call but would expect him to follow Kelce here and find the crease? pic.twitter.com/vKAmtUOrZb— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 5, 2021
- Hands are unreliable, dropped too many balls in recent years
Drop 15: I'm maybe being tough on Miles Sanders here, as Carson Wentz is leading him into a big hit, but this is certainly a little alligator arm'y. pic.twitter.com/3707HaIAgr— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) November 20, 2019
Miles Sanders drop in the end zone - 2nd BIG Drop by Eagles in 1st half today vs Ravens pic.twitter.com/pKTqFe6DcK— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) October 18, 2020
- Has had problems in pass pro. Not always been trusted on 3rd down
Little Jalen Hurts All22 thread... because why the hell not! Might as well start with a beauty. Quick easy read based on pre-snap coverage. Lovely touch throw and right in the bucket. Would be nice if Sanders could block the right guy one day too! pic.twitter.com/3mqDHz7kzx— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 8, 2020
Miles Sanders is a pretty frustrating player to watch because the talent is there but he just feel like he has never quite made it. After his rookie year, I felt Sanders was on the path to stardom but he clearly hasn’t hit the heights that we all wanted him to hit. He’s clearly a good and talented running back but this season feels absolutely massive for him.
Personally, for me to consider a running back elite or very good, they have to have a decent role in the passing game. Unless they are absolutely elite as a runner (Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry etc) then they need to contribute in the passing game more than Sanders has the past couple of years. I know PFF only credited him with 1 drop this past year but I have been pretty critical of Sanders catching the past few years and I think he absolutely needs to do more in the passing game.
Despite not being completely sold on Sanders, I do think the Eagles offense would miss him if he left. I do think in the modern NFL you want as many explosive players as possible and having a back who can create explosive plays. I think he has the ability, but I think I see Sanders as more of a 1b option or a feature back as part of a rotation, rather than a foundational piece of the offense. Somewhere between 10-14 carries and 2-6 targets per game seems the right amount for a player like Sanders moving forward. I don’t think he is consistent enough as a runner to run the offense through him and give him 20+ carries a game, despite what lots of people on Twitter want to see!
After this year, Miles Sanders will be an unrestricted free agent. Based on the past couple of years, my gut feeling is that the Eagles shouldn’t re-sign him. However, every player has their value, and Sanders does provide explosive plays which every NFL team covets. If the Eagles could do something around $7m per year mark, I wouldn’t be completely opposed to it. I’m not a huge fan of paying running backs in general, to be honest. Going forward though, I think Sanders should be a part of a committee and not ‘the guy’ due to his limitations. I would absolutely love Sanders to have a huge year this year and prove me wrong and whilst I think he has the talent, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a slightly disappointing year similar to the past two years.