Philadelphia Eagles: Miles Sanders has a perfect chance to earn respect

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Miles Sanders is the Philadelphia Eagles‘ starting running back.

He earned the role as a rookie while splitting carries with Jordan Howard during his rookie season in 2019, maintained it through the subsequent two seasons, and the Penn State product is all but certainly expected to retain the role in 2022, when he enters the final year of his initial rookie-scale contract.

And yet, for one reason or another, Sanders doesn’t quite get the same level of respect as many of his peers. He’s considered the fourth-best running back in the NFC East, maybe even the fifth-best, depending on your opinions of Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott, and Saquon Barkley, and after watching Howard go from the practice squad to the starting lineup last year without the offense losing much of a beat, some have openly opined over just how much of an impact Sanders has on the Eagles’ run game.

Needless to say, this has put a bit of a chip on Sanders’ shoulder, with the fourth-year rusher giving fans declaring his aim for the forthcoming season is to “get the respect I deserve,” as per Jeff McLane. Fortunately, even with Kenneth Gainwell nipping at his heels, the pride of Western Pennsylvania has a chance to do that this fall, as the Philadelphia Eagles will give him every opportunity to succeed in the NFL’s best offense.

Miles Sanders needs to go off for the Philadelphia Eagles in Year 4.

Howie Roseman is mildly committed to Miles Sanders heading into the 2022 NFL season.

On one hand, the well-tenured GM didn’t extend the PSU product to a long-term deal, which is never a good thing heading into Year 4, but then again, it’s not like the Eagles really addressed the running back position in either free agency or the draft either, with only Kennedy Brooks, the UDFA out of Oklahoma, adding to the backfield.

If Sanders plays exceptionally well, taking a massive step forward from his already very good base-level of play, he’ll likely be back in midnight green next fall. If, however, Sanders takes a step back, or even just mildly underwhelms versus his desired payday, then he’ll have to test the open market from a position of weakness to see if he can land a decent deal elsewhere.

Fortunately, barring injury, Sanders will largely be able to influence his future with the amount of effort he puts into his game, which, understandably, should make more than a few Eagles fans very happy indeed.

If Sanders wants to secure a big deal, he’ll need to shore up his pass pro, remain healthy, and bury once and all the belief that he’s a turnover machine. He’ll need to prove a dynamic threat in both the passing and rushing game and elevate the Eagles’ rushing offense, which was already the best in the NFL last year, to something truly special in the modern era.

Fortunately, Sanders is a baller, so he should be able to do just that.

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In the NFL, opportunity isn’t a lengthy visitor. A few bad plays can tank a season, and a few bad seasons can end even the brightest of careers. If Miles Sanders wants to go down as one of the best of this era, he’ll need to build on the strong start to his NFL career, add a few tricks to his resume and finally establish himself as a three-down back. If that happens, the respect will certainly follow.