Can the Eagles backfield survive without Miles Sanders?

NFL: OCT 18 Ravens at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 18: Philadelphia Eagles Running Back Miles Sanders (26) carries the ball in the first half during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles on October 18, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles are placing RB Miles Sanders on injured reserve today with the expectation he will miss three games, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

A three-week timeline would put him in line to return for the clash with the New Orleans Saints, or the first of two divisional matchups with the New York Giants.

In the meantime, the Eagles will likely turn to Kenny Gainwell as their lead back, giving their rookie an extended look as a potential RB1. Gainwell has looked the more dangerous of the two running backs at times, largely due to the threat he brings through the air. Despite Sanders being the clear RB1, Gainwell has just as many receptions as the Penn State product but has added an extra 46 yards.

The offense did look pretty stale when Sanders was helped off the field against the Raiders, and neither Gainwell nor Boston Scott could do much to negate his absence.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this loss isn’t as big as it should be. The Eagles have had documented struggles all year when it comes to running the ball and there has appeared to be a real reluctance to do so at times, leading to a frustrated Sanders breaking off a huge run and looking as if he’s about to storm through a brick wall and demand more of the ball, as he rightfully should.

It would be typical for Nick Sirianni to begin heavily implanting designed runs now, just as the team lose their most experienced running back. The good news is that it will give Gainwell an opportunity to prove he’s more than just a do-it-all rusher and the team can hang their hat on him as a future three-down back.

It would behoove the Eagles to call up Jordan Howard from the practice squad and maybe lighten the load on Gainwell’s shoulders. Howard is a downhill runner and a decisive run at that, even if he has lost a step or two. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like the offense could get any more dysfunctional!

Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery for Miles Sanders and something that resembles a balanced offense when the Eagles face Detroit this weekend.

*Other good news: Boston Scott should now have a pretty big role against the Giants, just as he has done for the past two years, ripping them to shreds in the process.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire