Breakout season? Miles Sanders?
Is it even possible to use that in the same sentence at this point?

We are talking about the same Miles Sanders who led all rookies with 1,327 yards from scrimmage. The man who became the Eagles’ biggest offensive threat down the stretch of the season, en route to becoming Philadelphia’s franchise leader in rushing yards by a rookie (818).

While there is no disputing the success Sanders saw in his first year as an Eagle, it’s safe to say the Pittsburgh native has yet to reach the realm of the NFL’s elite.

Christian McCaffery

Take Christian McCaffery for example; the best two-way back in the game in terms of rushing and receiving, what can you say? After this past season that saw him eclipse 2,392 yards from scrimmage and become the third player in history go over 1,000-yard rushing and receiving in the same season, his status at the top is solidified.

Ezekiel Elliott

Or Ezekiel Elliott, the man who has led the league in rushing yards per game (including 2017 where he was suspended six games) and has finished in the top five in rushing yards in three out of his four seasons (two rushing titles).

Saquon Barkley

Then there’s Saquon Barkley, Sanders college teammate that took the nation by storm in 2017 during his time in College Station and continued to elevate his game once he made his way to the pros en route to the 2018 Rookie of the Year award.

However, what if I told you that Sanders hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface, in terms of unlocking his full potential?

You see, for every milestone, Sanders accomplished in 2019, such as Sanders joining Barkley as the only rookie running backs since 2000 to eclipse 800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season. There is an equally mind-boggling stat that refutes “Boobie” and his status among the game’s elite. Just like the fact that Sanders has only rushed for 100+ yards rushing once in his young career and 80+ yards twice if you include the aforementioned 100-yard game.

It seems as if that many often forget that despite the fact that Sanders led the duo in snaps through the first three weeks of the season, Jordan Howard was a significant portion of the Eagles offense through the first half of the season, accounting for 525 yards and six touchdowns. It wasn’t until the days leading up to a week 10 matchup with the New England Patriots, where a “stinger” injury seemingly been erased Howard from the face of the planet, in which Sanders began his road to glory.

Sure Sanders was a key factor in the passing game during this time, as he ended the Eagles leader in 20+ yards receptions (and plays) by seasons end. However after Howard went down, Sanders saw his rushing attempts increase weekly, leading up to his career-high 20 carries in the victory over the Cowboys. With that said, Howard is now a member of the Miami Dolphins, the days of a running back by the committee may arguably be in the past. With the opportunity to become the first Eagles rusher to average over 11.3 carries/12.9 touches per game in the Doug Pederson era, Miles Sanders is primed and ready to take on the role of the workhorse in the Philadelphia Eagles backfield.

Sanders was asked about the possibility of taking on the role in 2020 if he thought he could handle it, and how the 2019 season should help him and here’s how he responded:

“Absolutely, I believe that’s why they drafted me in the first place. It was really just a switch, honestly, that turned. All of a sudden I was the starting running back, and I didn’t start at the beginning of the season. So, I just looked at it as an opportunity, and I just attacked it.”

Sanders heads into the season as the unquestioned starter for the first time in his career, with a full year of experience under his belt Sanders has huge plans for himself heading into this upcoming season.

While coming away with the league’s Most Valuable Player award would surely erase all doubt, Sanders doesn’t necessarily need that type of performance in order to etch his name alongside the league elite.

Essentially all Sanders has to do is emulate the way he closed the 2019 season out, only this time for an entire 16 game schedule.

However, could it really be that simple? Well, let’s find out.

Miles Sanders stats from weeks 11-16 (DNF week 17) :

  • Touches: 15.7 carries — 4.2 catches
  • Yards Per Carry: 4.6
  • Yards Per Catch: 8.2
  • Scrimmage YPG: 107

*8th most in NFL during this time

Stats projected through 16 game season:

  • 251 carries
  • 67 catches
  • Yards from Scrimmage: 1,704
Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Assuming Sanders stays healthy, the prospect of the Philadelphia Eagles running back reaching 1800+ is certainly alive and well. For the first time since the departure of LeSean McCoy back in 2015, Philadelphia has a playmaker in the backfield, talented enough to handle a bulk of the duties alongside Carson Wentz this season.

Even with the fact, the Eagles have confirmed that they’re in the search for an extra rusher who could spell Sanders when in need of rest, this should not have a massive impact on the role Sanders is set to have in the offense this coming season.

Head coach Doug Pederson recently did so in a press conference, while also reemphasizing the team’s confidence in Sanders, as well as mentioned Boston Scott and Corey Clement.

Miles is our number one. He’s the guy we drafted last year, and he had a tremendous rookie season. He’s ready to carry the load but I think you’ve got to have a second or a third guy there to help him.

Boston came on last year and did a fabulous job for us in kind of a relief pitcher for Miles. And we brought back Corey, and Corey has been a great addition. I know he’s been injured the last couple of seasons but he gives you a little bit of depth there.”

Everyone wants to know what’s next for Miles Sanders. Expectations are through the roof, from the fans to the coaching staff, and even analysts that are all lining up to endorse the pride of Penn State.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recently spoke about his belief in Sanders taking the next step this season.

“I think he’s on the brink of being that special running back need in order to get that offense where it needs to go.”

Even Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager had some high praise for the second year stud.

“Miles Sanders is the guy that I cannot wait to see. I’ve spoken to several sources within the Eagles organization, they could not be more excited for what a healthy, seasoned veteran version of Miles Sanders and what they are going to get this season.”

With him penciled in as RB1, don’t be surprised to see the “Run Boobie, Run” phrase taking over a city near you. Last year Eagles fans everywhere were eager to see the emergence of their budding star.

Now with the entire world watching, now is the chance for Sanders to cement himself as one of the top backs in the league.

Featured Image: Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports
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