A 2019 second-round draft pick, Miles Sanders has been a solid running back for Philadelphia since entering the league.
In an offense that utilizes a healthy rotation of ball carriers in the backfield, Sanders has performed well enough to remain the starter for the team. Yet, when it comes to being the big-time playmaker that Philadelphia needs, Sanders does not come through as often as he should.
His ability to effectively use his agility and speed, in addition to his occasional power running, has made him a special player to watch at times. Despite that intrigue, however, Sanders has yet to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a season, with 2020 being the closest when he hit 867 yards. Additionally, his touchdown numbers have been disappointing, especially after failing to reach the endzone at all in 2021.
From a traits standpoint, Sanders is a special running back who has game-changing capabilities, but this may be his do-or-die season to prove that he is the franchise back in Philadelphia.
“Talent is there, I’ve seen the talent in pieces, I’ve seen the talent in moments,” said former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. “Continuously showing that talent is going to be the deal for Miles Sanders. And if he can do that he’s going to have a special season.”
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Sanders has the talent and skill to be a dominant force in the league year in and year out.
Over his three seasons in the NFL he has averaged just around 5.1 yards per carry which ranks among the top running backs in the league. He has demonstrated that he has plenty of big-play ability and while he is not the biggest guy, he will fight for that extra yard or two. His issue is that injuries have hindered his ability to be on the field in the big moments.
Knee, ankle, and hand injuries over the last couple of seasons have limited Sanders’ chances to pile up rushing yards and touchdowns have depleted. As a result, backup options like Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell have taken advantage of his missed opportunities. In Sanders’ mind, more opportunities are exactly what he thinks he needs, but he needs to remain healthy and play consistently well to ensure those opportunities.
“Being more consistent,” Sanders said to John Clark in an interview for NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’m going to be honest: Opportunities. I’ll just say it simple like that. I need to be more consistent, but I need opportunities.”
Recently, Sanders took some backlash for his “All-Star team” comments, something actual Pro Bowl players may have gotten a longer rope with.
While missing chances to be on the field due to injury is difficult to maneuver around, Sanders could reach that level with more opportunities, especially in goal-line situations which have gone to Scott, Gainwell, and current free agent Jordan Howard.
The way to change that narrative is to seize the opportunities you do get. As the definitive RB1 for Nick Sirianni, Sanders will receive enough chances to impress.
As Sanders enters his fourth season in the NFL searching for a second contract, this may prove to be his most important season.
The general post-draft consensus on him was that he could be relied on as a solid back who would develop into a top-tier player. Sanders has shown glimpses of the skill it takes to make that happen, but he has yet to put all the pieces together.
After a full offseason to get healthy and put in the necessary work to succeed, Sanders should be ready to do whatever it takes to become the premier back he can be. If he happens to put together another average season, Howie Roseman and his scouts may be looking into a replacement.
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