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Eagles All-22 Film Review: Miles Sanders can be frustrating to watch

Does the Birds’ top running back have a long-term future in Philadelphia?

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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

Career stats

Via Pro Football Reference:

2021 advanced stats

All from PFF. Only includes running backs with 20% of the run attempts so it is out of 61 players.

Rushing

- 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.

Receiving

- 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.

Strengths

+ Talent is absolutely undeniable. Has ‘wow’ runs frequently that not many other backs in the league could produce.

+ Can make you miss in the whole or in the open field, good acceleration and spin move

+ Has improved his vision since his rookie year. Does show the ability to follow his blocks more than he did as a rookie

+ 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

Who can forget this one?

+ Has the quickness and acceleration to get skinny and dart through small holes

Weaknesses

- Has benefitted from running behind a top offensive line throughout his career. Not necessarily a ‘weakness’ but something worth remembering.

- 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

- Still bounces too many runs outside and doesn’t follow his blocks. Not a consistent runner

- Hands are unreliable, dropped too many balls in recent years

- Has had problems in pass pro. Not always been trusted on 3rd down

Overall

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.