It’s been an unusual rookie season for Miles Sanders. The Eagles running back has flashed the highest of highs, but they’ve mostly been overshadowed by errors and teething problems. Those concerns were put to rest on Sunday, at least, for now.
Sanders entered the week eight matchup against Buffalo averaging 3.5 yards per carry, ranking him 35th/42 running backs who have at least 50 carries on the season. Some have criticized his vision, others his patience, or the ability to stick his foot in the ground and turn upfield. There always seemed to be a lot of meat left on the bone following a rushing attempt and after four consecutive games of 10+ carries, the Eagles started to feed Jordan Howard.
That doesn’t mean they stopped giving Sanders his share, they just left him the dessert as opposed to expecting a rookie with such little wear on his tires to finish a five-course meal.
Against the notorious Bills defense, Sanders rushed the ball 3 times for 74 yards, including a burst through the trenches that took him 65-yards down the field and into the endzone for his first-ever rushing touchdown. It was the longest by an Eagle since Bryce Brown’s run of the same distance against the Bears six years ago. He also added a 2-pt conversion, just for some extra zing.
Sanders also caught 3 passes for 44 yards, demonstrating his versatility once more. In an offense devoid of receiving production, Sanders has somehow become the team’s most valuable deep threat…and that’s no exaggeration.
With 274 receiving yards on the season, he actually ranks second among rookies in ‘scrimmage yards’, with Josh Jacobs being the only man to rank higher. He leads ALL running backs in receptions over 25+ yards, too.
His development may not have been as rapid as Christian McCaffrey, or explosive as Dalvin Cook, and there are definitely rushing elements that Sanders can, and likely will improve on under Duce Staley’s guidance. But without his versatility and reliable production through the opening half of the season, it’s scary to imagine where the offense would be.
It’s safe to say that the future is looking extremely bright for the former Nittany Lion, who was drafted with the exact same pick used to select one LeSean McCoy back in 2009. He ended his first season as an Eagle with 637 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, and 308 receiving yards. It’s perfectly feasible that Sanders maybe, just maybe, one-ups one of the most electrifying backs in Eagles history in his rookie season.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports