Eagles

Miles Sanders still confident as Eagles wisely show patience in their young running back

Miles Sanders still confident as Eagles wisely show patience in their young running back

It’s safe to say the first two games of his career haven’t exactly gone to plan for Miles Sanders. 

The Eagles are wisely not hitting the panic button yet. 

And Sanders isn’t panicking either. 

My confidence is high as could be,” Sanders said after Sunday’s loss in Atlanta. “I’m competing at a level I’ve always wanted to be in. I’m competing with guys that love this game. They bring that all out every single play. My confidence … nothing to worry about really. It’s a long season. Come back next week and get an opportunity.

Despite how much Sanders has looked like a rookie early this season, Doug Pederson and the Eagles are showing some patience with their second-round pick, who wowed the team for a solid month at training camp. 

Right now, Sanders looks like a college running back struggling to adjust to the NFL. One of his main issues has been trying to bounce plays outside instead of running within the scheme. It’s something with which young running backs sometimes struggle. And it’s something Pederson said they want to show him on tape and help him improve. 

I’m really confident in Miles,” Pederson said Monday. “I think the more opportunities he gets, he'll get better. He missed some things, a young running back, missed a couple of the holes. A couple of the holding calls he tried to bounce outside, and we got a couple holding calls which are going to happen. 

There are some things that he can get better, but our confidence in him is really high, extremely high and we are going to continue to play him and get him the reps.

Don’t get it twisted either: I like the patience to a certain point, but Sanders needs to get better and he needs to get better quickly. 

Because while there’s definitely a huge upside in the faith the Eagles are showing in him — Sanders was clearly the best running back on the practice field all summer — the Eagles can’t wait forever. They have a team they think can compete for a Super Bowl this year, so if Sanders can’t get over this rookie hump soon, at least the Eagles kind of know what they have in Jordan Howard. He’s at least proven himself in the NFL. 

Sanders has 21 carries for 53 yards in two games. After Sunday’s contests, that average of 2.52 yards per attempt ranked him 29th of 30 among running backs with 20-plus carries this season. Even if that 21-yard touchdown in Week 1 counted (it was called back for a hold), his average would still just be 3.19, good for 26th among those 30 backs. 

But Sanders was a second-round pick for a reason. The Eagles fell in love with him during the pre-draft process for a reason. And they owe it to him and themselves to see if he can’t work through these early struggles. 

Through two games, Sanders leads the Eagles’ running back rotation in snaps, carries and total touches. And based on Pederson’s comments, it doesn’t look like they’re ready for a big change soon. 

We’ll see if that patience pays off. 



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Howie Roseman fails to pull trigger on trade for Jalen Ramsey, who reportedly goes to Rams

Howie Roseman fails to pull trigger on trade for Jalen Ramsey, who reportedly goes to Rams

The Eagles failed to land one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. 

Instead, Jalen Ramsey has been traded to the Rams, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The price to get him was reportedly first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 as well as a fourth-rounder in 2021. 

Would you have done that?

That’s a lot to give up, but Ramsey really is that good. He’s widely considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and is still just 24 years old. Ramsey was the fifth overall pick in 2016. He’s been a Pro Bowler in each of the last two years and was an All-Pro in 2017. 

And now Ramsey is out of the AFC and on an NFC contender. So this is bad for the Eagles in two ways. 

Ramsey is in the final year of his contract this season and is on a fifth-year option in 2020, so he’ll be looking for a big deal soon. But he’s worth it. 

Back on Sept. 16, Ramsey and his agent requested to be traded from Jacksonville, the team that drafted him, after a sideline blowup with head coach Doug Marrone. Since then, the Eagles had clearly been in the mix. 

But Howie Roseman didn’t pull the trigger. There are still a couple weeks left until the trade deadline and there are other options, but opportunities to get shutdown corners who are just 24 don’t come around often. 

Getting Ramsey would have filled an immediate need for the Eagles, who haven’t had a true shutdown cornerback in years. They’ve tried to get by for the last couple years with a hodgepodge group, and they’ll have to continue. At least they do have some youth at corner, but they need some of these young players to play better. This news about Ramsey comes just a couple days after we all watched Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones get toasted against the Vikings.  

The Eagles might get Jalen Mills and perhaps Ronald Darby back this week and that will help, but they won’t help nearly as much as Ramsey would have. 

Ramsey could have been the first Eagles cornerback to make a Pro Bowl since Asante Samuel back in 2010. Yeah, it’s been a long time. 

Ramsey certainly has a loud personality and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. That is always part of what the Eagles look at when they inquire about potentially adding a player. Perhaps that played a role in not getting him. 

Since entering the league in 2016, Ramsey has nine interceptions and 45 pass breakups. During that span, Rodney McLeod has the Eagles’ lead in INTs with seven and Mills leads the Eagles in pass breakups with 30. So Ramsey would have immediately helped at a position where the Eagles desperately need help. Oh well.  

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A blunt assessment from Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas

A blunt assessment from Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas

Cornerbacks always talk about how crucial it is to put bad plays behind them.

Gotta be confident. Gotta have a short memory. Gotta forget about it when you get beat.

Every cornerback gets beat. The great ones bounce back quickly.

Fair to say Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones didn’t bounce back quickly Sunday.

I asked Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz Tuesday how Douglas and Jones have handled having a short memory and putting bad plays behind them, and his answer was surprisingly blunt.

Inconsistently,” he said. “There have been times that they have, but you know like a 3-3 team, we’re all striving for consistency and I think that those guys are striving for that.

Douglas has played fairly well much of the season, although he’s been inconsistent. Jones has struggled both on the field and to stay on the field.

On Sunday, both struggled through their lowest moments. Kirk Cousins victimized both young corners to the tune of four touchdowns and 333 yards in the Vikings’ 38-20 win at U.S. Bank Stadium.

This was the first time Schwartz has spoken this bluntly about Douglas and Jones and their confidence issues.

I don’t know that any of those were lack of confidence or [not] putting a play behind them, but whether it was a penalty, whether it was a physical error or a technique error or a communication error, another bad play ended up rolling up on them and that’s the life they live,” he said. “There were a lot of technique errors, there are a lot of miscommunications in every game with D-linemen and linebackers and everything else, whether you win the game like we did against the Jets or you lose a tough game like we did against the Vikings.

But generally those don’t get the attention that the cornerback position takes, and that’s part of the job description. That scrutiny. Kickers. Quarterbacks. Head coaches. It’s just what we deal with, and corners need to be able to put bad plays behind them, and we’ve been inconsistent doing that.

Jones is only 23 and Douglas is 24, and both come from big-time college programs and were high draft picks in 2017 — Jones in the second round and Douglas in the third. 

The Eagles clearly are hopeful both can go on to become high-level long-term starters.

But Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby could both be back for the Cowboys game on Sunday or, if not, soon after.

We all know both of them have allowed their fair share of big plays, but they’ve also started for a Super Bowl championship team, and nobody has ever questioned their confidence. They’ve both shown a knack for bouncing back.

Who’s going to wind up starting when everybody’s healthy? 

Too early to answer that. But if you’re a coach and you have two cornerbacks who have confidence issues and two who don’t? Who would you play?

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