Miles Sanders is just not getting the football, something Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni does recognize. Unfortunately, the Eagles head coach fails to act on it.
Sanders received just nine carries in the Eagles’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, which was the latest indicator on how seldom he’s used. The Eagles had just one carry to a running back in the first 25 offensive plays, painting a clearer picture of why Jalen Hurts struggled for the majority of the game.
To be fair, the Bucs boast the league’s No. 1 run defense; many have abandoned the run against them, as teams are averaging only 12.3 rush attempts by running backs against Tampa Bay this season. But that been a season-long trend for the Eagles, and Sirianni’s excuse for not attempting to run the ball was nothing new — some might say a tired one, given Philadelphia’s lack of designed running plays in an inept offense that isn’t helping a young quarterback.
“Some of them same thing are RPOs. Some of them we look at screens as being able to get the running backs the ball as running back plays as well,” Sirianni said after the loss. “Again, just the way the flow was going, we weren’t getting much on the first one. Then the RPO we weren’t getting much on either.
“Either way, it didn’t work. We were bad in the first half, and I put that on me first.”
The Eagles run a lot of run-pass options under Sirianni and not a lot of designed runs, but those could benefit Hurts and Sanders. Hurts is getting a lot of criticism for taking the pass option on the RPOs, even if the run appears to be there. Having designed runs would fix the issue, as Philadelphia appears to be relying too heavily on a quarterback that has started just 10 career games.
“You want to be able to take things off the quarterback at times, too. Again, sometimes it is with an RPO, sometimes with a called run, sometimes with a boot or a naked, sometimes it’s with a screen. Those are what we think of as breather plays for the quarterback where he doesn’t have to do much except just execute that ability of that,” Sirianni said. “And so, yeah, we want to get all our playmakers the football. Miles is a playmaker. He showed that today and he’s no exception.”
When Sanders was handed the ball on what looked to be a designed running play, he had consecutive runs of 23 and 14 yards. The Eagles had a touchdown drive on the possession where Sanders earned four carries.
Don’t expect the designed runs to continue. Sirianni’s offense will be heavy on RPO designs, period.
“The couple plays that Miles had today that were lower long runs, those were RPOs too,” Sirianni said. “We have to be able to get them touches in there. I have said that too before, that we got to be able to make sure they get their touches.
“Again, we’re trying to call the best play that’s for us in that particular time. We had called runs today. They weren’t real great for us, and that’s why we went with a little more RPOs with it.’