Miles Sanders has faced scrutiny in the offseason by the Philadelphia fans and media. There were questions about durability, his vision, ball security, and his future in an Eagles uniform. It was a foregone conclusion he could be moved at the trade deadline or moved on from after the 2022 season altogether.
It was even implied by many that Kenneth Gainwell would be his successor, replacing him. Here we are in November of 2022, looking at the best statistical start of Miles Sanders’ career.
- His vision has improved, his running has become more vertical, and he’s been big on multiple game-sealing drives.
- He’s even turned the ball over less, as fumbles were a big concern in his first two seasons.
- His performance in a contract season isn’t getting the attention it deserves locally or nationally, in my opinion.
Before we unpack it, let’s look at his past.
The rookie season of Miles Sanders was quite impressive.
- He started all 16 games, rushed for 818 yards and three touchdowns, and even added 509 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
- He broke franchise rookie records with 1,641 all-purpose yards.
- He was also one of 7 rookies in NFL history to have at least 800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a season.
- He had 13 plays of 20 or more yards, showing off his ability as a big play weapon.
Unfortunately, ball security was a big concern early in his career. Sanders fumbled seven times in these three seasons, losing 4 of them. Two of the most memorable fumbles came in a 2019 matchup with the Detroit Lions, one of the fumbles ultimately leading to a game-winning field goal for Detroit.
- In 2020 and 2021, he started 12 games in each season, missing 4 to injury.
- In 2020 he rushed for 867 yards and six touchdowns and notched 197 receiving yards.
- In 2021 he rushed for 754 yards but didn’t record a rushing touchdown on top of 158 receiving yards. Sanders’s running was criticized in these three seasons as well.
Despite having the talent to be more of a vertical and downhill runner, Sanders often “danced” during his runs, running horizontally or even backward, resulting in lost yardage on multiple plays.
Miles Sanders has never had a 1,000-yard season in his career, and barring injury, he’s on pace to do that and then some.
Having an extra game aids him, but his numbers are stellar. Through 8 games, Sanders has made the most of his carries.
- In 131 carries, he’s rushed for 656 yards and six rushing touchdowns.
- He’s averaging 5 yards per carry and 82 yards a game.
- He’s not being utilized as a receiver as he has in past seasons, but we can credit AJ Brown and Devonta Smith for that because he doesn’t need to be.
- Given Sanders’s current production through 8 games, he’s on pace for 1,394 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, surpassing his previous seasons.
It’s deeper than the numbers, however. Impact and a true “late-game” clutch factor have been key. In games this season, he’s been crucial in closing games or aiding a drive to put games away.
- After the Lions pulled within 3 in week 1, he rushed for a key first down on 3rd and 2 for 24 yards to Lions territory. That sealed the victory.
- The Jaguars game was arguably one of his best games as a pro. After the Eagles went down 14-0, Sanders was the main catalyst of the game-tying drive and rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the #1 rushing defense.
- Sanders was crucial in managing the time of possession against the Cowboys. He rushed effectively on all scoring drives, including the drive that put the Eagles ahead 26-17 and, ultimately, the game away.
- He shredded the Houston Texans’ run defense on Thursday night football with crucial rushes on the drive that ultimately put the Eagles up 12.
Miles Sanders is on pace not only to have his best season ever but earn a contract that pays him what he deserves.
He can break a big run at any moment, has averaged over 5 yards a carry his entire career, and has explosiveness in the passing game. He has yet to fumble this season, and his ball security concerns appear to be a thing of the past. Don’t worry, I knocked on wood for injury and turnover protection.
He’s responded to criticism and adversity with production, and he deserves to be recognized and awarded. It’s vital that Howie Roseman locks him up as early as possible to invoice inflation of the market and locks in a deal that’s team friendly to boot. It’s important to not only keep as many weapons around Jalen Hurts as possible but have one less position of worry heading into the 2023 offseason.
Let’s give Miles his flowers, as he is proving the doubters wrong with every carry. The concerns lie in the past. Let’s also credit Nick Sirianni with running the ball in crucial situations and letting Miles shine. Thank you, Nick!
Keep crushing it, Miles. Go birds.