Philadelphia Eagles: Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell are an RB2 PB&J

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

As the Philadelphia Eagles march on towards the start of the 2022 NFL season, their depth chart is coming into focus… literally.

That’s right, despite Howie Roseman and company being tight-lipped about who exactly falls where on their internal ledger, the Eagles’ PR staff has been busy at work crafting the team’s first official unofficial depth chart in the lead-up to the team’s preseason debut versus the New York Jets. While one would assume the public relations professional responsible for assembling this much-anticipated piece of online content did at least have to run their findings by someone, as it would be cruel to, say, put Kary Vincent Jr. second on the second-team outside cornerbacks list and place Tay Gowan with the fourth team if that isn’t how things are viewed internally.

Still, for the most part, there aren’t too many surprises to be found on the official unofficial depth chart, save maybe one thing – the decision to break with the typical conventions of a depth chart and put Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell tied for the team’s second-string running back instead of one at two and one at three.

What gives? Would it be that bad to say Scott is the team’s second-string rusher and Gainwell is instead more of a third-down specialist who can moonlight in the slot as part of a “pony set,” as Doug Pederson would say? Or are the duo simply that neck and neck, with one or the other ultimately earning the true second-string spot regardless of the situation behind Miles Sanders?

Either way, with both ‘backs on the injury reports with a concussion and a hip injury, respectively, the preseason probably won’t do too much to decide that question either way.

The Philadelphia Eagles need to have a plan behind Miles Sanders.

When the Philadelphia Eagles’ rushing attack really got cooking at the end of the 2021 NFL season, they had a pretty clear plan going for them; run the ball early and often with two backs, plus Jalen Hurts, leading the way on the ground.

Now granted, the exact plan from week to week changed ever so slightly depending on the available personnel, but for the most part, the Eagles had at least two rushers who flirted with double-digit attempts – three, again, if you count Hurts – and were able to ride this rushing attack to the best ground game in the entire NFL.

Will that change in 2022? Will the Eagles move on from being a rush-heavy team and instead embrace a spread-wide approach a la the Cardinals’ Air Raid-y offensive approach, or turn to a YAC-heavy scheme like the San Francisco 49ers?

In a word? No; the Eagles are going to remain a rush-heavy team for as long as Shane Steichen is calling plays and Hurts is under center.

So what, then, is the plan heading into the forthcoming season? Is Sanders simply going to be counted like “Jawnathan” Taylor? Or will the team instead go by a true rotation a la Chip Kelly’s early run, where it didn’t seem like he gave a flying hoot about which back was in the game situationally?

Again, it’ll probably look a lot like 2021, only without Howard’s big, bruising abilities to be deployed in short-yardage situations or around the goal line.

Assuming Sanders is healthy, Scott will likely serve as his direct backup, with special packages specifically being drawn up for Gainwell to attack defenses with the backfield passing game and to push the pace in the no-huddle; those were the roles the two rushers filled in 2021 when everything was going well, and unless Josh Jacobs ends up in midnight green by month’s end, it will likely remain the status quo. If, however, Sanders were to go down with an injury, or Scott suffered another concussion, Gainwell would likely earn more of a “traditional” rushing role, pushing for three yards between the tackles on a traditional inside zone read, but for the most part, it would seem like the bulk of those opportunities will likely go to the pride of LA Tech, who is one of the most deceptively effective inside rushers in the NFL due to his deceptively exceptional lower body strength.

When a 5-foot-6, 203-pound man can squat 625 pounds, you know they can truck.

Next. A.J. Brown seems to really love being an Eagle. dark

Are the Philadelphia Eagles maybe just a little too light on running backs heading into the 2022 season? Yes, probably so; even if Miles Sanders does play in the preseason, which he probably won’t, the team will have to give extensive playing time to the likes of Justin Hardy, Kennedy Brooks, and their newest addition, DeAndre Torrey, who aren’t exactly a collection of top-flight developmental prospects who will be in the RB1 conversations next spring. And yet, if things go as planned and the position grouping can largely overcome any momentum-shattering injuries that require a trip to IR, there’s little reason to think that the dynamic duo of Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell can’t do an exceptional job as co-RB2s, as their skillsets fit together like peanut butter and jelly and their fit in Nick Sirianni’s offense is just as perfect.