The madness of Eagles coach Nick Sirianni ignoring Miles Sanders

·4 min read

The madness of Sirianni ignoring Sanders originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

I can’t even believe I’m writing about an NFL team running the ball three times in a game.

But here we are.

The Eagles had 53 offensive plays Monday night.

They ran the ball three times.

What the heck is going on here? Where do you even start? How do you even process a 50-to-3 pass-run ratio?

Let’s start with this:

The Eagles have been around for 88 years. This has never happened before.

Available records only go back to 1950, but over that 72-year period this is the first time the Eagles have played a football game in which the running backs have gotten fewer than seven carries.

And Monday night in Dallas, they didn’t even get half that.

And considering that the average NFL team ran the ball 35 to 38 times a game before 1950, it’s safe to say this is the first time in franchise history Eagles running backs have gotten just three carries in a game.

The previous low of seven carries came in 2005 in a 33-10 loss at Dallas - a few miles away at Texas Stadium - when Brian Westbrook had six carries and Lamar Gordon one. That was a little different because the Eagles were down 17-0 in the first quarter, and Donovan McNabb was in his seventh season and coming off a Super Bowl appearance.

Yeah, the game has changed. Yeah, the modern NFL is a passing league. But the notion that the running attack has somehow become obsolete is wrong.

The average NFL team this year has run the ball 26.9 times per game. Thirty years ago that figure was 27.4 carries per game.

You don’t have to be 50-50 to win, but you can’t be 94-6 either. And that’s what Sirianni was Monday. He called 94 freaking percent pass plays against the Cowboys.

Let's call it Dawg Stupidity.

What can a running attack do for an offense?

How did the Cowboys take command of that game? They had already run the ball 25 times for 118 yards by halftime. That only made it easier for Dak Prescott to pick apart an Eagles defense that didn’t know what was coming from snap to snap.

When you run the ball three times in an entire football game – and one of those carries was by Kenny Gainwell in garbage time in the final minutes – you make it so easy for the opposing defense.

May as well just give them the game plan.

What makes this even more egregious is that the Eagles have one of the NFL’s most talented running backs.

Miles Sanders is a gifted playmaker, an electrifying runner and a capable receiver, and his skill set is a perfect match for the offense Sirianni claims he wants to run. No player in Eagles history reached 2,500 scrimmage yards faster than Sanders, who got there against the 49ers in his 30th career game.

Sanders' 5.2 rushing average this year is 3rd-best in the NFL. His 30 carries are 24th-most in the NFL.

What a waste.

Even Monday night, with just two carries, Sanders gained 27 yards, both on the same second-quarter drive. He also caught three passes for 28 yards. Five touches, 55 yards. The Cowboys couldn’t stop him. Only Sirianni could.

I thought Doug Pederson was wasting Sanders’ talent, but Sirianni is taking it to a new level, and it’s painful to watch.

Sirianni explained giving Sanders only two carries by pointing out that the Eagles didn't have many plays in the first half and then fell behind in the second half.

Hogwash. When the offense is struggling is exactly when you HAVE to involve Sanders, who’s a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Sirianni did the opposite. The worse the offense played, the deeper in mothballs Sanders wound up.

Use your gifted running back instead of chucking the ball every snap behind a battered offensive line with a young and struggling quarterback and MAYBE YOU’LL GAIN SOME YARDS AND HAVE MORE PLAYS IN THE FIRST HALF AND YOU WON’T BE DOWN 20 POINTS EARLY IN THE SECOND QUARTER.

I get that Sirianni is a rookie head coach and still finding his way, but this is basic stuff. He should know better. He has to know better.

Sanders has a 4.9 career rushing average, 6th-highest among all NFL running backs this century.

He’s such an explosive weapon on first down, averaging 8.7 yards per carry on first down this year, by far the highest figure in the league.

Yet out of 77 Eagles first downs, he’s only gotten the ball 13 times.

None of this adds up. None of it makes sense. It's lunacy.

And if the Eagles are going to have any sort of success this year, Sirianni has to wake up and realize that one of the NFL’s best running backs is rotting away on the Eagles' bench.

He's the one with the clean uniform.

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