The cries to “Free Miles Sanders” and “Let Miles Eat” have been deafening through the first seven games. The feature back for the Philadelphia Eagles only had 63 rushes before a bum ankle landed him on injured reserve. Sanders is out for at least three games.
Shockingly, with his best rusher missing in action, Nick Sirianni decided to lean hard on the ground game in Week 8. The Eagles ran the ball 46 times for 236 combined yards against the Detroit Lions. Three different players received double-digit carries: 12 for Boston Scott (60 yards), 12 for Jordan Howard (57 yards), 13 for Kenny Gainwell (27 yards). The Eagles got four touchdowns out of the backfield.
It stands to reason that Sanders was privately fuming while watching the game on his couch, with his injured ankle on ice. Nope. Sirianni revealed the star running back texted him words of encouragement after watching his teammates rack up a season-high in rushing yards.
“No, actually he texted me, ‘HELL YEA, Coach,’ with all caps. Miles was obviously super excited for his teammates,” Sirianni told reporters. “Miles is a great teammate. He’s a great person, a great teammate, great player. Sure glad we have him on the team. Obviously, we’re missing him right now and looking forward to when he gets back. That was his – in all caps, H-E-L-L, space, Y-E-A. So that was his – with an exclamation point after that.”
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Eric Wilson Inactive, Not Injured
The decision to keep starting linebacker Eric Wilson inactive had nothing to do with an injury. The Eagles had a plan to get more snaps for Davion Taylor and TJ Edwards, with Alex Singleton slated for a bigger role on third down. They also wanted to keep Shaun Bradley up due to his contributions on special teams. All those factors went into making Wilson the odd man out at the position, according to Sirianni.
“What it really came down to is we don’t have luxury anymore to dress that many linebackers,” Sirianni said. “What it came down to was, who was going to contribute more on special teams and Shaun has been such a good special teams presence for us these last eight weeks of the season. So that was kind of a numbers game there, kind of what happened and why we went there.”
It also allowed more burn for rookie defensive tackle Milton Williams who saw 34 snaps. He exploded for his first career sack, along with four tackles (two for loss) and earned the defensive game ball.
Don’t Worry About DeVonta Smith
Still, the rookie receiver’s inability to haul in easy catches in recent weeks could be a tad concerning. He was one of the most sure-handed kids in this year’s draft class, right? Sirianni says don’t read too much into anything. It’s not something he needs to address with Smith.
“It’s been my experience to never dwell on a drop,” Sirianni said. “You just try to build that confidence back up. He knows he has good hands. He knows he has great hands, we have a lot of the confidence in him.”