Eagles

Hey, Doug Pederson! Miles Sanders is really good! Use him more!

Hey, Doug Pederson! Miles Sanders is really good! Use him more!

I’m pretty sure I wrote this same column about Brian Westbrook.

Probably wrote it about Correll Buckhalter, Duce Staley and LeSean McCoy, too.

The names have changed, but once again the Eagles have a dynamic young running back who isn’t getting enough touches.

And I just don’t get it.

The Eagles’ offense is a mess right now. The receiving corps is a wreck. The offensive line is in disarray. The quarterback is mired in a slump. The running back position has been decimated. 

Once-trusty players like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert don't look like themselves.

Half the team is injured. The other half is having a bad year.

There are two skill guys who have played consistently well of late. 

One is Zach Ertz, who has 30 catches over the last three weeks and is on his way to another Pro Bowl.

The other is Miles Sanders, and it seems like no matter how productive he is and how desperately the offense needs firepower, Doug Pederson simply won’t lean on the rookie from Penn State.

After a sluggish start, Sanders is averaging an excellent 4.4 yards per carry. Yet he’s averaging just 9.0 carries per game.

It made sense early in the year to limit his carries. It took Sanders a few weeks to find his way. We could all see it. Jordan Howard was healthy and productive, Sanders was struggling.

But things changed. Sanders showed in Buffalo he belonged with that explosive 65-yard TD run, and it seemed to give him renewed confidence. Since then he’s been more decisive, his vision has improved, his cut-backs have been sharper, and he’s hitting the hole hard.

We can all see it.

Through it all, he’s caught the ball well. And since the two fumbles against the Lions back in Week 3, he’s been secure with the ball.

I thought Sunday was one of Sanders’ best games yet. He ran hard, didn’t have a super long run but kept the chains moving. He averaged 5.3 yards a pop, caught three passes for 27 yards and picked up 86 yards of offense on a day when yards were hard to come by.

But he got just 12 carries. That’s been par for the course lately. And this was a one-possession game until a few minutes into the fourth quarter.

Since that 65-yard TD announced Sanders’ arrival as a legit NFL back, the Eagles have had 42 possessions, and Sanders has 33 carries.

That's 3/4 of a carry per drive.

In the Patriots loss, Sanders had only four second-half carries. Sunday, he had only five. Both were largely one-possession games.

It makes no sense. It’s not like there’s a whole lot of other things working.

Counting Carson Wentz runs as pass plays, the Eagles have thrown the ball 101 times and run it 36 in these two close losses. 

Why not play to your strengths?  

Sanders is averaging 4.9 yards per carry since Week 3. That’s 11th-best among all NFL running backs during that span. Ahead of guys like Matt Breida, Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook.

Yet he’s 32nd during the same span in carries and 33rd in touches.

Sanders has shown he’s a weapon in both the running game and the receiving game. He’s one of only eight players in the NFL with 300 yards both rushing and receiving. 

He’s on pace for 1,125 yards from scrimmage on just 183 touches. The last NFL rookie running back with 1,100 yards on 190 or fewer touches was Paul Lowe of the Chargers in 1960.

That’s big-time efficiency.

There’s no reason to think Sanders can’t handle an increased workload. Heck, Pederson gave rookie Josh Adams 42 carries in a two-game span last year. Sanders is clearly more of a weapon than Adams. But Sanders has never gotten more than 13 carries.

The Eagles need offense. 

Sanders has shown he can provide it. 

Take the kid gloves off. 

Let him run.

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Eagle Eye podcast: Building now vs. the future around Carson Wentz

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Eagle Eye podcast: Building now vs. the future around Carson Wentz

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro dive into plenty of topics, starting with Howie Roseman’s short-term vs. long-term plan to build around Carson Wentz. 

Breaking down the Eagles’ salary cap space. Why trading for Brandin Cooks wouldn’t make sense. The game that showed the Eagles Jalen Mills could play safety. 

Roob hates the new playoff format and plenty more: 

• Building now vs. future around Carson Wentz 
• Breaking down Eagles’ salary cap space 
• Some cap tricks Howie Roseman uses 
• Should Eagles trade for Brandin Cooks? 
• More on Jalen Mills’ position switch 
• And his switch from No. 31 to 21 
• Ronald Darby is heading to Washington 
• Dave’s latest Eagles-only mock changes it up
• Roob hates the new NFL playoff format 
• What the guys are doing to stay sane 

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NFL officially expands playoff format in time for 2020 playoffs

NFL officially expands playoff format in time for 2020 playoffs

The NFL has officially expanded its playoff format to 14 teams in time for the 2020 season. 

Starting with this upcoming season, the playoff field will expand from 12 to 14 teams, allowing one more wild-card team from each conference. 

Here are a few of the major points of this new format: 

• The AFC and NFC will each have seven playoff teams, but just the top seed from each conference will have a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

• In wild-card weekend, the other 12 teams will play — the No. 2 seeds will host 7s, the No. 3 seeds will host 6s and the No. 4 seeds will host 5s. 

• For this upcoming season, wild-card weekend will have three games on Saturday, Jan. 9 and three games on Sunday, Jan. 10. 

• One of the additional wild-card games will be on CBS on Jan. 10 at 4:40 p.m. The other will be on NBC on Jan. 10 at 8:15 p.m.

This is the NFL’s first expansion of the playoff format since the 1990 season, when the field went from 10 to 12. 

The Eagles made the playoffs as a division winner with a 9-7 record in 2019 and that would still be an option with this new format. This change simply adds another playoff team in each conference. In the 2019 NFC that would have been the 9-7 Rams. 

If you’re looking for a recent example in Eagles history of how this new format would’ve helped, look back at the 2014 season. The Eagles finished with a 10-6 record in Chip Kelly’s second season but missed the postseason. If this format was around, they would have been the third wild-card team after the 11-win Lions and Cardinals. 

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