Why Miles Sanders needs to prove his worth as a pass-catcher in 2022

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)

After the 2019 NFL season, the Eagles seemed to have found a diamond in the rough in Miles Sanders. The Penn State product finished an incredible rookie campaign with 818 rushing yards and 509 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he appears to have lost a step in the receiving game ever since.

The story so far

He finished the 2020 season with only 197 receding yards and then the 2021 season with an even lower total of 158 receiving yards. His targets have also gone down significantly even with the changes to the coach in staff last season.

Under his last season with Doug Pederson, Sanders finished the year with only 52 targets in the passing game which was 11 targets less than his rookie season. After his first full year with the Eagles new Head Coach, Nick Sirianni, Sanders finished with only 34 targets in the passing game as Boston Scott and rookie Kenneth Gainwell clamored for their share of the ball.

With the amount of usage dropping, Eagles fans and media alike have wondered what happened to the promise that Sanders once showed? He once rivaled Raiders RB Josh Jacobs and now the writing on the wall is starting to show. The Eagles are not known for handing out contract extensions to running backs as that has also been a trend in the league. 

What does the future hold for Miles Sanders?

The amount of tread that is placed on running back just isn’t worth the investment for teams in the NFL. Although, you can’t run an offense without an edifice to running back. If you tried, then you would look like Chip Kelly once did with DeMarco Murray and Sam Bradford.

Miles Sanders is a special running back. His speed is a weapon especially when he hits that second gear in the open field. He’s elusive in the middle of the pack but sometimes that could work against him. His indecisiveness and lack of vision could set back the offense at times. Which has been a pain point for him since his rookie season. Still, a player like Miles Sanders doesn’t grow on trees. 

If the Eagles can get the 2019 version of Miles Sanders then this offense may be one of the more potent groups in the league. The Eagles could use a reliable Miles Sanders in the passing game as it will keep the defense guessing whenever he’s on the field. With players like Gainwell and Scott, the Eagles need Miles Sanders to blend for them to be more efficient. He’s the only one that really lacks prowess in that area.

If defenses can rely on the transparency of seeing Sanders on the field, then the Eagles will continue to flirt with the idea of being a contender instead of being one. And with his rookie contract nearing an end, it would behoove him to work on his game as a receiver.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire