Are the Eagles finally poised to break a six-year drought?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl Game Semifinal Game – Notre Dame v Alabama
ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) warms up prior to the College Football Playoff Semifinal Rose Bowl Game between Notre Dame and Alabama on January 1, 2021 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)

2014. That was the last time the Eagles had a 1,000 yard rusher and 1,000 yard receiver. LeSean McCoy had 1,319 yards rushing while Jeremy Maclin added 1,318 yards receiving. Despite less than stellar QB play from Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, the Eagles were still able to go 10-6 on the backs of the two 1K players and a scoring offense of 29.6 PPG.

Since then, the best mark by a WR has been 997 by Jordan Matthews in 2015 and the best mark by a RB has been 867 by Miles Sanders last season. With new head coach Nick Sirianni in town, could the Eagles double dip at 1K again?

The Sirianni effect

It seems like everywhere Sirianni has gone, results have followed.

In 2012, as Kansas City’s wide receivers coach, Dwayne Bowe had his final productive year of his career, posting 801 receiving yards.

In 2014 and 2015, as San Diego’s QB coach (in 2013, he was offensive quality control), Philip Rivers totaled 9,078 passing yards, 60 TDs, and 31 INTs. He led the league in 2015 in completions and his 4,792 yards and 299.5 YPG were both career highs (still are).

In 2016 and 2017, as SD’s WR coach, multiple receivers saw progress they either hadn’t seen previously or would never see again. Tyrell Williams posted a career high 1,059 yards in 2016 and career high 16.9 YPR in 2017 on 43 receptions. Dontrelle Inman had his one and only year of relevance in 2016 with 810 yards. Keenan Allen had his most productive year under Sirianni in 2017 (he was hurt in 2016) and had 1,393 yards.

From 2018-2020, as Colts offensive coordinator, Sirianni helped three different quarterbacks achieve some of their best results of their careers. Andrew Luck, in 2018, won Comeback Player of the Year and had his best passing yards total (4,593) since 2014. Jacoby Brissett, in 2019, threw a career high 18 touchdown passes. Phillip Rivers, in 2020, threw for 4,169 (nice) yards and 24 TDs to only 11 INTs. The 11 INTs were his lowest since 2017.

During that same timeframe, T.Y Hilton’s catch rate of 63% bested his 59.9% catch rate from 2012-2017, the time without Siranni.

This is all without mentioning the work Sirianni has done with running backs and their receiving abilities. Sirianni worked with running backs Jamaal Charles, Melvin Gordon, Jonathan Taylor, and Nyheim Hines to become some of the best options out of the backfield when the quarterback drops back to pass. Oh? Don’t want to see Hines’ name there? Well.. since 2018 there are only six running backs with 850+ rushing yards and 1200+ receiving yards:

  • Christian McCaffrey
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Austin Ekeler
  • Saquan Barkley
  • Nyheim Hines

In 2020, Jonathan Taylor became just the 7th rookie since 2010 to post an 1100+ rushing and 250+ receiving season.

Do the Eagles have players for it?

Miles Sanders burst out in his rookie year with 1,327 yards from scrimmage. While his sophomore year left a lot to be desired, the tools are there to become an elite dual threat option. Sanders is one of six running backs to have 1,600+ rushing and 700+ receiving yards the last two seasons combined, joining Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Alivin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey. Sirianni’s familiarity with dual threat running backs should boost Sanders’ stock significantly.

As far as receivers go, the easy answer is DeVonta Smith. The 2020 Heisman winner is a safe bet to eclipse 1,000 yards as a rookie, although it’s been pretty rare for a rookie to do so. Prior to the back-to-back rookie years of A.J. Brown and Justin Jefferson, there were only seven receivers from 2011-2018 to do so with three of them coming in 2014. From 2000-2010, there were only three rookies to eclipse 1,000 yards.

There’s been a lot more success for second year receivers, so there’s hope for Jalen Reagor. There have been 36 wide receivers since 2010 to eclipse 1,000 yards in their second year. However, with the presence of DeVonta Smith, it seems as though Reagor’s chances of hitting that mark are limited.

If the Eagles are set to hit a mark that hasn’t been hit in six years, there’s no better coach to help them than Nick Sirianni. His experience with former All Pro’s and Pro Bowlers, and being the reason for their successes in large part, will go a long way for the young Eagles.

Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire