Over the next three weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 20 most important Eagles for the 2021 season.
8. Miles Sanders
Before his second NFL season, Miles Sanders has some major goals, even setting his sights on 2020 being an MVP year.
That didn’t quite work out.
Sanders entered the season with an injury and ended up playing just 12 of 16 games because of various ailments. In the 12 games he suited up, he was good but not great. Here’s a recap of his 2020 season:
• Sanders rushed for 867 yards on just 164 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. That ranked fifth among all NFL running backs (at least 100 attempts) in yards per carry.
• Sanders had three carries of at least 74 yards. He was the only NFL player with three runs of 70+ yards last season, and there were just 12 total 70+ yard runs in the league.
• He really struggled as a receiver. After a 50/509/3 year as a receiver in his rookie season, Sanders had just 28 catches for 197 yards in Year 2. He also dropped seven passes.
• He also struggled in pass protection. Sanders graded out as ProFootballFocus’s 40th running back in pass protection, allowing seven pressures and two quarterback hits.
So what have we learned about Sanders in his two seasons in the NFL? Well, he’s supremely talented, but has yet to put it all together. He has shown flashes of being able to do everything a top running back in the NFL needs to do, but he hasn’t been nearly consistent enough and he’s also struggled to stay healthy.
But there’s no question Sanders has the potential to be one of the best backs in the NFL. And now he’ll have a new coaching staff and play caller who will be more likely to stick with the run and give him opportunities as a ball carrier and as a pass catcher.
While Doug Pederson always seemed to get away from the run too early, Nick Sirianni comes from Indianapolis, where they’ve made their running attack more of a priority. So we can probably expect a little bit more of a balanced attack in 2021.
And there will also likely be more of an emphasis on the screen game under Sirianni, who really likes to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers and allow them to create.
The loss of Duce Staley as his position coach — the two were extremely close — might be tough for Sanders. But ultimately, this coaching staff change could help to bring out the best in him.
The Eagles are certainly counting on it.
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