One of the big storylines that’s developed over four weeks of this Eagles season is the lack of touches for Miles Sanders.
The Birds’ RB1 has a grand total of 37 rushing attempts this year, which averages out to 9.2 carries per game. If you extrapolate that for a full 16-games, then add the extra 17th game that the NFL instituted this season, he still would be on pace to have the fewest rushing attempts in his three-year NFL career. That’s crazy.
Nick Sirianni was asked on Wednesday about Sanders’ lack of involvement, and said this:
Q. How has RB Miles Sanders reacted, I mean, their touches are about even over the last couple of weeks, how has Miles reacted to that situation? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’ve seen Miles just be the same guy every single day. Put in the work every single day to get better. Does he want the football? Of course he does. And that’s any good player, any player in general. And that’s the same way it’s going to be in the receiver room or the tight end room or the running back room. They all want the ball.
That’s a good problem to have that you got guys that want the football. And that’s our job to get it to them. But there is only one football. And when you kind are going up and down the field like we did last week, the guys that got the football last week, it was just a product of what was happening. And so, I think the guys see that.
But, you know, obviously they still want the ball. And we’ve got to do what’s best that week to get the players the ball that the defense is going to allow us and force the issue sometimes as well.
This quote gives me a little bit of post-traumatic stress disorder. It triggers something in my brain that makes me harken back to 2018 and the Mike Groh era, when the Birds went out and traded for Golden Tate and then barely used him. Groh was constantly asked why Tate wasn’t getting enough of the ball, with the Birds going heavy 12 personnel at times.
Q. Is it tough having two tight ends that maybe have some similar skill sets? (Jeff McLane)
GROH: No, it’s not tough with two tight ends. There is only one ball, so we can only get it to one guy at a time. Look, we think that Dallas (Goedert) is going to be a really good football player for a long time. We’re really glad that we have him on our team. He’s somebody that people are going to have to deal with certainly each and every week going forward. To pair him with Zach and Alshon and Nelly and Golden and those guys, we have good skill, but like I said, there is only one ball, so can only go one place on each play.
Sheil Kapadia points out that when a coach says something like “that’s a good problem to have,” that it’s actually a terrible problem. In this case, a second-round draft pick, your RB1, who averaged 5.3 yards per attempt last year, is barely involved.
Sirianni has reiterated this year that RPO plays count as “runs” in their book, which I guess is palatable, but here’s the thing –
If you ran 60 plays in a game, and all 60 of them were RPOs, but Jalen Hurts pulled the ball to throw it 59 times, then it means Sanders only touched the ball once. Even if Hurts made the correct read 100% of the time, it would still result in a playmaker simply not getting enough of the rock. Nobody in the fan base gives a shit if Sanders COULD HAVE gotten the ball on a play, they only care if he DID GET the ball on a certain play.
So the question becomes this:
Do the Eagles even favor Miles Sanders? There were a couple of plays the other day where he could have hit a hole and seemed to miss it. Sometimes he still shows that penchant for bouncing to the outside. And Sirianni seems to like Kenneth Gainwell, who has looked pretty good so far. Maybe they simply are not that high on Sanders, and this is their way of showing it.
Regardless, there’s a frustration. DeVonta Smith should see the ball. You want Jalen Reagor to get touches. Dallas Goedert, Quez Watkins, etc. But some guys take priority over others, and the RB1 should get priority. Miles Sanders needs the rock.