As we inch closer to training camp and notable NFL news comes to a stand still, media outlets across the country have been releasing their rankings for positions, teams, coaches, etc.
Almost every ranking that’s dropped this offseason has thrown shade on the Philadelphia Eagles. We shouldn’t be surprised, this team doesn’t have much to write home about heading into the 2021 season. They have some bright spots, like tight end Dallas Goedert, their stellar defensive line, and running back Miles Sanders.
In Sanders’ case, it doesn’t seem like many analysts around the league are very high on the third-year back entering 2021. Former NFL rushing champ turned NFL analyst Maurice Jones-Drew recently released his ranking of every starting back in the league. Sanders ranked out as the 27th-best RB1 in the league, according to MJD.
Here are some of the names ranked ahead of Sanders:
- J.K. Dobbins (12)
- Austin Ekeler (15)
- Najee Harris (16)
- Chris Carson (19)
- Antonio Gibson (20)
- Leonard Fournette (21) (seriously?)
- D’Andre Swift (22)
- Mike Davis (23)
- Chase Edmonds (26) (holy shit)
You could make a strong case for Sanders being ahead of each one of those backs, despite having a bit of a down year in 2021.
Let’s see MJD’s explanation for this:
Sanders has shown flashes of being a really good player in both the run and pass games over his first two seasons. He was more productive as a runner in 2020, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, but wasn’t the pass-catching threat he was in his rookie season. Sanders must show up and have a Saquon Barkley-esque impact on the offense to help alleviate pressure from second-year QB Jalen Hurts. I’m looking for more consistency here.
Okay, the point about Sanders’ decline in receiving production is valid. His 7 drops on the season more than doubled his drops from his rookie season, and he failed to reach the end zone through the air once in 2020.
But aside from that, ranking Sanders this low is laughable. Especially when guys like Leonard Fournette and Chase Edmonds are ranked higher. It’s hard to take this list seriously considering Fournette isn’t even the starting running back in Tampa Bay, that would belong to Ronald Jones II. Fournette started three games last season and averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
In four less games, Sanders nearly doubled Edmonds’ rushing yards total and he had 5 more rushing touchdowns than Edmonds last season.
Najee Harris, a rookie who’s never taken an NFL snap, is ranked 11 spots ahead of Sanders. How? I don’t even know where to begin with that one.
I understand it’s fashionable to dunk on the Eagles while they’re down, we’re not the country’s favorite team by any measure. But c’mon, at least try not to make it so blatantly obvious.
The only way for the Eagles to silence these analysts is to come out and play well this year. This isn’t the only list to disrespect the Eagles this offseason, and it likely won’t be the last.
Paying attention to media noise is usually never a good idea for professional athletes, but I hope the team has at least seen glimpses of what people around the league are saying about them. If this kind of stuff doesn’t motivate the hell out of them, nothing will.
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