Eagles

No excuses from Eagles' Miles Sanders after fumbles: 'I have to play better'

No excuses from Eagles' Miles Sanders after fumbles: 'I have to play better'

Someone tried to ask Miles Sanders after the game if he had trouble hanging onto the football because it was so hot and he was sweating and the football was slippery.

He just shook his head and was like … come on, man.

No excuses.

He knows he has to be better. He knows he has to solve his ongoing fumbling problem.

Sanders, the Eagles’ rookie second-round pick from Penn State, finally did some good things on offense in the Eagles’ loss to the Lions Sunday, but they were more than offset by two fumbles, one of which he lost that led to a Detroit field goal (see observations).

Whether you’re a 10-year vet or a rookie, you’re in the NFL for a reason,” Sanders said. “I have a job to do. … All I can say is got to put it behind me and keep moving forward and continue to grow and get ready for next week.

Sanders fumbled midway through the second quarter, but guard Isaac Seumalo recovered and the drive continued.

Just four plays later, it happened again. This time Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson fell on the football near midfield, and five plays later the Lions took a 17-10 lead with a field goal.

Sanders is the first Eagles running back to fumble twice in the same game since Bryce Brown against the Cowboys in 2012.

It’s a long season, a long game,” Sanders said. “I got back in and tried to make the most of my opportunities. Put it behind me. I’m not perfect, but I’m definitely going to work my ass off this week to get better.

Brown, also a rookie, rushed for 169 yards in that 2012 game against the Cowboys. Sanders didn’t pile up quite that many yards, but after another slow start he did put up 126 yards from scrimmage — the most by an Eagles rookie running back since that same game.

Sanders was on the receiving end of Carson Wentz’s two longest passes — a 40-yarder in the first quarter and a 33-yarder in the fourth — and ran 13 times for 53 yards, a respectable 4.1 after he averaged just 2.5 yards in his first two games.

His 73 receiving yards are the most by an Eagles rookie running back in a regular season game since Robert Drummond had 74 against the Chargers in 1989, although Corey Clement had 100 in the Super Bowl.

There’s always positives in every game,” he said. “But got to come out with a win. I’ve got to play better. I put us in some tough situations.

Sanders fumbled 10 times in 308 touches at Penn State, which is once every 31 touches.

And that’s way too many.

He now has two fumbles in 40 touches as an Eagle.

Wayyyyy too many.

Continue to keep working,” he said. “I’m not perfect. Try to be perfect. On to the next game.

The first couple games, Sanders held onto the ball but didn’t produce.

This time there were some positives signs … but he fumbled twice.

The challenge for the Eagles and for Sanders is getting the production without the fumbles.

Because as talented as Sanders is, if he can’t hang onto the football, he's not going to play.

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the Patriots at the Linc. 

After a quick start, the offense disappeared. Receivers are still an issue. And Carson Wentz deserves blame too. 

At least the defense showed up, though. 

• Big takeaways from the loss
• The offense completely collapsed
• Yeah, receivers are still a problem 
• Carson Wentz is not without fault 
• Some wicked good defense  
• Why wait so long to sign Ajayi? 
• Where do the Eagles go from here? 

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Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

With one play, Nelson Agholor could have erased what was an otherwise miserable offensive afternoon for the Eagles at the Linc against the Patriots. 

He couldn’t do it. 

The ball popped out of Agholor’s hands in the back of the end zone on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. It was a play that could have tied the game. That pretty much sealed the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champs (see Roob's observations).

It was a frustrating end to what was another frustrating performance from the Eagles’ wide receiver group, this time without Alshon Jeffery, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. 

“We gotta be better,” Agholor said. “I mean, that’s the reality of it. There’s no excuse. We just gotta be better.” 

Carson Wentz certainly didn’t have his best performance and he even missed a couple big throws on the penultimate drive that could have tied the game. But with 1:05 left, he was able to get off that fourth-down pass with pressure in his face and hit Agholor in the hands in the back of the end zone. 

Agholor, who has been having an unfortunate contract season, said he tried to track the ball over his shoulder and actually thought he did a good job of tracking it. 

“Yeah, I did,” Agholor answered when asked if he tracked the ball well. “If anything, I kind of hit the ground and that’s when I lost it.”

But it looked like Agholor might have overrun the ball and then had to contort his body in an attempt to haul it in. His knee did hit the ground hard and he grabbed it in pain after the play. 

There might have been some wind too. 

"The ball did travel weird, but at the end of the day, it’s the NFL, you gotta find a way to track it down," Agholor said. "And I thought I followed it. On the way down, I kind of hit the ground hard and moved it." 

Once again on Sunday, the Eagles didn’t get nearly enough production from their wide receivers. This time, they were without Jeffery, but the lack of plays from that position has been a trend the entire season, even with him. 

Look at Sunday’s receiving numbers for the Birds: 

Tight ends and running backs: 14 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD 

Receivers: 6 catches, 75 yards  

And until that second-to-last drive, the Eagles’ receivers had just 22 receiving yards. So that group went nearly the entire game without making any significant impact. 

Without Jeffery, you can certainly say this group isn’t talented enough. But Agholor is getting paid $9.4 million, JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick and Jordan Matthews, although he’s been back just a week, has had a relatively productive NFL career. Even Mack Hollins made plays in two games earlier this year. 

Agholor: 4 catches on 9 targets, 40 yards

Arcega-Whiteside: 1 catch on 1 target, 29 yards 

Jordan Matthews: 1 catch on 6 targets, 6 yards 

Mack Hollins: 1 target

“Everybody’s gotta step up, meaning me,” Agholor said. “I only had, what, four catches? I gotta make more plays.”

It would certainly help if the Eagles got some more plays from their receivers, but at this point in the season, it’s unrealistic to expect a switch to get flipped. The Eagles have had most of their success with long drives, dinking and dunking their way down the field. 

For months, the Eagles have said the chunk plays are coming. They’re not. 

Why is Wentz so confident they’ll get more firepower from these players? 

“For me, I get to see all these guys at practice,” Wentz said. “I think everyone in here and in the public doesn’t get to see it. So I have a lot of confidence in the guys that when their number’s called, they’re going to make plays.”

Maybe Wentz has confidence — and maybe he should — but it would be misguided for anyone else to have it. These receivers kind of are what they are at this point. Was anyone really surprised Agholor failed to haul in that catch at the end of the game? 

I didn’t think so. 

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