It’s safe to say the first two games of his career haven’t exactly gone to plan for Miles Sanders.
The Eagles are wisely not hitting the panic button yet.
And Sanders isn’t panicking either.
My confidence is high as could be,” Sanders said after Sunday’s loss in Atlanta. “I’m competing at a level I’ve always wanted to be in. I’m competing with guys that love this game. They bring that all out every single play. My confidence … nothing to worry about really. It’s a long season. Come back next week and get an opportunity.
Despite how much Sanders has looked like a rookie early this season, Doug Pederson and the Eagles are showing some patience with their second-round pick, who wowed the team for a solid month at training camp.
Right now, Sanders looks like a college running back struggling to adjust to the NFL. One of his main issues has been trying to bounce plays outside instead of running within the scheme. It’s something with which young running backs sometimes struggle. And it’s something Pederson said they want to show him on tape and help him improve.
I’m really confident in Miles,” Pederson said Monday. “I think the more opportunities he gets, he'll get better. He missed some things, a young running back, missed a couple of the holes. A couple of the holding calls he tried to bounce outside, and we got a couple holding calls which are going to happen.
There are some things that he can get better, but our confidence in him is really high, extremely high and we are going to continue to play him and get him the reps.
Don’t get it twisted either: I like the patience to a certain point, but Sanders needs to get better and he needs to get better quickly.
Because while there’s definitely a huge upside in the faith the Eagles are showing in him — Sanders was clearly the best running back on the practice field all summer — the Eagles can’t wait forever. They have a team they think can compete for a Super Bowl this year, so if Sanders can’t get over this rookie hump soon, at least the Eagles kind of know what they have in Jordan Howard. He’s at least proven himself in the NFL.
Sanders has 21 carries for 53 yards in two games. After Sunday’s contests, that average of 2.52 yards per attempt ranked him 29th of 30 among running backs with 20-plus carries this season. Even if that 21-yard touchdown in Week 1 counted (it was called back for a hold), his average would still just be 3.19, good for 26th among those 30 backs.
But Sanders was a second-round pick for a reason. The Eagles fell in love with him during the pre-draft process for a reason. And they owe it to him and themselves to see if he can’t work through these early struggles.
Through two games, Sanders leads the Eagles’ running back rotation in snaps, carries and total touches. And based on Pederson’s comments, it doesn’t look like they’re ready for a big change soon.
We’ll see if that patience pays off.
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