Eagles need big game from Miles Sanders

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 14, 2019 - 9:42 am

The game plan for the Eagles when they have needed to win this season has been pretty simple — put the ball in the hands of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. 

That recipe worked to perfection in big wins over the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills. Against Green Bay, Howard scored three touchdowns. In Buffalo, Sanders started to put the game away with a 65-yard score. 

It is a recipe the team is almost certainly hoping to duplicate this Sunday against the New England Patriots, but this time, they are going to have to lean heavily on the rookie Sanders as opposed to both. 

How injured Howard is currently isn’t completely clear, but the team’s starting running back was listed as limited for Wednesday’s practice, and it is likely he will be limited again on Thursday. At this point it is fair to wonder just how involved he will be on Sunday, or how long he will be able to stay in the game. 

Assuming Howard is not 100% on Sunday, it will be up to Sanders to step in for the snaps Howard normally takes. The good news is that Sanders seems ready and up for the challenge.

After a slow start to the season, Sanders its averaging close to 100 total yards per game (95.5) over the last two weeks. He averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry on 10 carries against a very good Chicago Bears defense, and has averaged 12.5 yards-per-catch over the last two weeks. 

Part of the reason Sanders has been able to have such a big impact is head coach Doug Pederson has done an excellent job dialing up plays that have put Sanders in great spots to make big plays. The other reason, however, is Sanders simply looks much more confident and decisive with the ball, which should be expected considering he is getting more-and-more experience as the season goes on. 

There is reason to believe he can continue to have success on Sunday against the Patriots. 

The Patriots’ defense has put up some insane numbers this season, giving up an average of 10.9 points-per-game this season, but they haven’t exactly played an elite group of offenses. They best offense they faced, the Baltimore Ravens, put up 37 points on them. The Ravens did it behind a very strong running game. The Ravens averaged 5.96 yards-per-attempt on the ground, excluding the 61 yards gained by Lamar Jackson. Obviously, simply having Jackson helped the Ravens running game, and although he is pretty athletic for a quarterback, Wentz isn’t in the same stratosphere of athlete as Jackson. 

Still, the recipe is there — behind a strong offensive line, that is playing at an elite level, the Eagles could have success on the ground against the Patriots. That will certainly be their goal, considering the Patriots will likely focus on taking away Zach Ertz, and Alshon Jeffery is unlikely to play. Getting both Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the field, with a focus on the running game, is the way the Eagles can have success on Sunday. 

And with Howard banged up, it will be Sanders who needs to be the engine behind making that game plan work. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!