Miles Sanders was better than the box score suggests in Eagles debut


In his first taste of regular season action with the Eagles, Miles Sanders racked up 25 yards on 11 attempts, good for an average of 2.3 yards, and 1 catch for 2 yards. If you are a box score analytic, that’s a horrible debut. No, I mean, a HORRIBLE debut.

Thankfully, we are rational beings that go through the tape systematically and form our opinions from what the ‘eye in the sky’ tells us. Mike Groh also seemed positive when talking about the Penn State product yesterday.

“Any time you have negative it’s never just one guy. So very pleased with the start that he had on Sunday and we had one exchange issue that we obviously have to get that cleaned up.”

Doug Pederson also echoed a positive debut.

“Miles had a couple of nice runs late in the game, third quarter, fourth quarter, the touchdown that came back, so you can see how dynamic that can be and we’re just going to continue to work it that way. Sometimes it’s the hot hand, but sometimes it’s based on game plan and who is in at that particular time.”

So if the coaches see promise, there’s more to this than meets the eye. The question is, where did Sanders look his best this past weekend?

Perfecting the pass protection schemes

Overall it was a good day for Sanders. He found blitzing a Cole Holcomb and Tre Boston nicely when they were coming in the B gap on man protections schemes.

However, on one play, the Eagles slanted the protection away from Sanders’ side, meaning Lane Johnson lets the DE go. Sanders takes a little too long grasping his assignment, exposing Wentz to a huge blindside hit. Thankfully, Wentz hit Alshon on a slant quickly, avoiding the hit:

The right decision in tough spots

Had the long TD run not been wiped out by a “holding” call on Oscar award-winning Josh Norman play, Sanders’ numbers would’ve been very different.

Taking a look at the other plays, he is set up in some tough situations, where good players made good plays.

Specifically, Da’Ron Payne had a play with good push on Seumalo, where the running lane for Sanders collapsed. On another play, Big V misses a block on a well-timed blitz from Cole Holcomb that takes a good angle on Sanders in the backfield. Finally, The Eagles ran 2 running plays with him on the goal line. On one of them, there is simply no running room, where the massive DL for the Redskins gets a good push, on the other, Landon Collins just made a hell of a play:

Good things to come

Sanders didn’t have a statistically great day, but after looking closely at the film, it was not a bad debut for the rookie. Look for him to settle in after adapting to the speed of the regular season games. Especially with a veteran like Darren Sproles to give him advice and an extremely patient Jordan Howard to do the same.

“Certain looks that I got I’m just asking for their advice because sometimes I can’t see everything and they can see more because they are watching the whole play.” Sanders told reporters after the game. “Just getting advice and seeing what I did on certain plays.”

Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports