Can Nick Sirianni unlock the potential of Miles Sanders?

Miles Sanders
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – DECEMBER 01: Philadelphia Eagles Running Back Miles Sanders (26) runs with ball to score a touchdown during the NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on December 1, 2019. (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles are now entering year three of the Miles Sanders era which means this could be a deciding year for the young running back. While last season was heavily shadowed by the number of catchable balls he dropped and a nagging hamstring injury, there’s still hope for Boobie Sanders.

Miles has started 22 games in his first two seasons, playing in 16 as a rookie Last year was the tough one as the team had to rely upon a very inconsistent Boston Scott to lead them through the first several weeks without Sanders. Still, though, Sanders has managed to muster 800+ rushing yards in both of the last two seasons while averaging 4.9 rushing yards for his career so far.

Last season, Miles averaged 5.3 yards per game while averaging 72.3 rushing yards in what was a very bland offense that lacked a desire to run the ball. With inaccurate QB play and a lack of schemed creativity, Sanders suffered. He only caught 28 passes out of 52 that went his way, amassing only 197 receiving yards for the season. In the year prior, Sanders managed to catch 50 passes out of a total of 63 targets while putting up 509 receiving yards.

As a runner, he was boom or bust which really didn’t help.

So the question now is what can we expect from the third-year back in this new offense? The rumor around Philly is that the team will feature a heavy set of RPO’s.

Miles Sanders was asked about the new offense and he mentioned, “It’s very similar to college, just switching from a pro-style to an RPO offense,” Sanders went on to explain the benefits of the new style of play. “Just getting back to that feeling. I love it. Just getting our athletes into space, and getting one-on-one matchups with certain players.”

The Eagles could not get the ball into the hands of their playmakers last year, but Nick Sirianni’s bid to maximize the potential of his players might help the Penn State product especially. With an emphasis on ball-security in camp and hints at offensive looks with two backs in the mix, the winds of change could be blowing for Miles Sanders.

Last season, Doug Pederson went into his bag of tricks after declaring Jalen Hurts as the starter. The team was set to face the New Orleans Saints, who had previously haunted the Eagles. Pederson relied on the RPO game to help the offense get going. To say that it worked would be an understatement.

Miles ran for 115 rushing yards on 14 attempts while breaking free for an 82-yard touchdown. Hurts followed suit as he ran 106 yards and passed for 167 yards. The team was finally able to dismantle the Saints as they went on to win 24-21.

The potential is there for Hurts and Sanders to be a dangerous duo in the backfield but more importantly, with a healthy offensive line, there’s some stability for him to work behind. New Head Coach Nick Sirianni seems to be aiming to build his offense around the rushing attack, just as he did so successfully in Indianapolis, potentially righting the wrongs of Doug Pederson’s rushing reluctance.

Miles Sanders could be in line for a big season if he can stay healthy for all 17 games. Sanders has been on the cusp of 1,000 rushing yards in both of his opening years. So, will Sanders be the first running back since Shady McCoy to cross the 1K mark? The opportunity is there.

As Miles Sanders said when asked about the 17th game, “more games, more yards.”

Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire