2022 was always going to be a big year for Miles Sanders and he knew it. His contract expires at the end of the season and there is nothing but question marks surrounding his ability, durability, and overall ceiling as a franchise running back. If he wants a payday, he’s going to have to earn it. Things got off to a flying start in week one.
The curious case of Miles Sanders
We all know that Sanders has struggled to stay healthy, but that wasn’t what kept me up at night when thinking about how important this year is for the Penn State product. Miles Sanders has suffered from one fatal flaw his entire career up to this point – decisiveness.
The number of games where he’d rush 8 times for 12 yards and then break off one 70-yard run to save his rushing average and public perception was infuriating. It stemmed from a lack of decisiveness. He’d forever want to bounce the ball outside and rush horizontally as opposed to putting his foot in the ground, choose a hole, and stick to it.
The second a hole started to close, Sanders would try to bounce outside and usually ruin any chance of a positive gain, which is why Jordan Howard was so valuable. But in 2022, we’re seeing a very different runner.
Miles Sanders breaks out against Detroit
Maybe the penny has finally dropped, or perhaps it’s a natural chip on his shoulder. Whatever the reason is, Sanders looked vicious on Sunday. He was lowering his pad level into contact, keeping his legs churning when hit, and most importantly, fell forward on the majority of occasions.
This resulted in a huge game for Miles Sanders, who amassed 96 rushing yards on 13 carries (7.4 yards per carry). I would much rather a complete game like that than one breakaway 80-yard run and 12 failed attempts that kill an offensive drive. The fact that Sanders was slicing through the heart of the defense over and over again, gaining 4-5 yards and giving the offense attainable 2nd and 3rd down scenarios were invaluable to this offense.
There was no run more important than the 24-yard breakaway just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. It was this run that pretty much sealed the game for Philadelphia, with Sanders pushing through contact and accelerating into the open field to give the Eagles three downs and all the momentum in the world.
It’s only one game. There are 16 to go. But Miles Sanders looked like the complete running back fans had been pining to see him become year after year. In what is the most important season of his career, ’Boobie’ doesn’t look to be leaving any meat on the bone, and that’s exactly what’s needed to not only guarantee his long-term future but push the Eagles to the next level.
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