RIGHT now, RB Miles Sanders is the most physical, proven runner on the roster. Let me repeat that. Right now, Miles Sanders is currently our “big back”. He’s the guy that we’d use to wear down defenses, and get the hard, short yardage. This has never been his role or what he specializes in, but right now, he’s the best suited to it, so he has to commit to it.
Before you get all worked up over rookie RB Kennedy Brooks, here’s some of his college tape: Exhibit A ; Exhibit B. Breaks tackles more like 195 than 213, doesn’t he? And that’s college! So as I was saying…
The Eagles have been a ‘RB by committee’ team, since 2014. We’ve rushed for over 2000 yards three times since then. We ran for 2115 in 2017 (Super Bowl); put up 2027 in 2020 with two QB’s running for about 300 yards each; then ran for 2715 last year. Rushing for 2000 yards in a season means that a team averages about 125 yards per game, on the ground. Which is very good.
The thing is, how a team gets those 125 yards, matters. In 2017 and in 2021 we had a big RB, and went to the playoffs. In 2020 we didn’t have a big back and we went 4 – 11 – 1. Big backs wear down defenses, making it easier to eat clock and score points. It also lends an intimidation factor, which yields a psychological advantage, making it easier to score.
Part of last year’s success was predicated on big RB Jordan Howard wearing down defenses with hard running, and then making them chase smaller, faster RB’s. If we don’t wear down opposing defenses, they’ll have more energy left to chase with. This could spell trouble for QB Jalen Hurts, who’s game is largely built upon being a runner. Remember his ankle sprain?
If this year’s rushing yards are 500 fewer than last year’s, and this year’s passing yards are 500 more than last year’s, then no one will care. (Especially if we’re winning.) However, right now, it seems that we don’t have the tools to replicate last year’s success on the ground.
I don’t know why we keep complicating this, by having seasons where we don’t have a big RB on the roster, but it’s something that we do. That said, if Sanders is our big back, we’ll need to see him finish his runs harder this year. Otherwise we might be screwed.