Ex-Pro Bowl RB seriously disrespects Eagles' Miles Sanders originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
It's July, which means we've finally reached training camp month. The Eagles' much-anticipated 2021 season is right around the corner, so everyone is getting ready for football by ranking a bunch of players, because of course they are.
Over at NFL.com, former All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranked the 32 starting running backs from best to worst, and his list might have some Eagles fans in a tizzy.
Jones-Drew has Eagles running back Miles Sanders as the 27th-best running back in the league, also known as the sixth-worst starter in the league. He has Sanders below guys like Chase Edmonds and Mike Davis, among others.
Here's Jones-Drew's blurb on Sanders:
"Sanders has shown flashes of being a really good player in both the run and pass games over his first two seasons. He was more productive as a runner in 2020, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, but wasn't the pass-catching threat he was in his rookie season. Sanders must show up and have a Saquon Barkley-esque impact on the offense to help alleviate pressure from second-year QB Jalen Hurts. I'm looking for more consistency here."
Look, I respect the heck out of MJD's football knowledge -- he was one of my favorite non-Eagles offensive players growing up! -- but I think his analysis of Sanders is off.
Blaming Sanders for inconsistency last season, when he was working both with a quarterback who basically forgot how to play the game and an offensive line that used 13 different combinations in a 14-game span, isn't exactly fair to the running back. In the face of all that upheaval, Sanders still saw his rush yards per attempt jump by 15% and his rushing touchdowns double from his rookie season. He also broke off the second-most 40+ rushes of any RB in the league.
That's pretty good for a second-year back who was a second-round pick!
Now, his 2020 season was a far cry from the preseason MVP chatter that Sanders himself helped generate, and I'll admit the passing game problems were definitely strange and mildly concerning. But I'm going to wait to pass real judgement until we see how he fares with Hurts this year. Carson Wentz legitimately became an unplayable quarterback last season. That's not on Sanders.
The bigger area of concern, for me, was the three fumbles compared to just one in 2019. That needs to get buttoned up. And, yes, I'd like to see more consistency out of Sanders in his third year - just like I'd like to see more consistency out of the entire Eagles' offense.
But placing Sanders below guys like Davis, Edmonds, and Chris Carson feels totally out of touch with reality. I expect Sanders to have a big 2021 and to remind people where he stands across the league.
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