Eagles: A Tale of Two Running Backs
Late into last season, the Eagles found an unlikely hero in their backfield in practice squad youngster Boston Scott. The Eagles maintained stability in the running back group for almost 15 years in Brian Westbrook to Lesean McCoy. Since Lesean was traded to Buffalo, Philly has lacked a solidified franchise running back. But, after this past season, it looks like the Eagles have found their dynamic duo of the future in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Two players who have come from polar opposite backgrounds to start their career now look to lead the Eagles for the next several years carrying the football.
Miles Sanders always seemed to be an afterthought until his last season at Penn State. Seemingly overshadowed by arguably one of the best Nittany Lions ever in Saquon Barkley, being his backup meant that Sanders did not get to see much playing time and was not often discussed when talking about PSU’s backfield. When Saquon went to the pros it allowed Sanders to finally get that limelight he needed to showcase his game. While Barkley is an incredible athlete, Sanders played a different style of football compared to him. Coming out of college and a great junior season, Miles was looking to be one of the best running backs of the 2019 draft class.
Miles Sanders with the burners. pic.twitter.com/qnfLThP2Ml
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) March 26, 2020
Miles had some great raw skills coming out of college. His vision and agility are insane, he could find holes and make plays where nobody else could in college and break away from one guy to turn a 5 yard gain into 15. This deadly duo really is what made Miles so great at Penn State and highlighted what made him a highly rated prospect. As a player, you can work on ball carrying and receiving but having that vision and slipperiness that Sanders has makes him an immediate threat. So looking at that the Eagles knew they had a talent they couldn’t pass up on and they could continue to mold into their guy for the future.
Miles Sanders: Shady 2.0 pic.twitter.com/xcAVc2TFVg
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) November 10, 2019
Everyone who watched Eagles football knows Miles Sanders had an incredible rookie season but there were two major things that stood out to me, his constant improvement inside the tackles and his receiving ability. When the season started Sanders was nowhere near the player he was by December. Instead of doing what he did best in college for some reason he tried to mix things up and bounce runs outside too often. These were plays made for Miles to work within the tackles and do exactly what he did at PSU. This was infuriating to watch as someone who followed Sanders in college and knew he was so good in between the tackles. Despite his lackluster start as the season went on Miles improved. Through some great coaching by Duce Staley and returning to what he did best, Sanders trusted his incredible offensive line and stuck between the tackles. By trusting this playstyle his ability went through the roof. Taking touches away from Jordan Howard week by week, Sanders set himself as the clear RB1 on the depth chart. By mid-season, this looked to be permanent and Miles never looked back.
Miles isn’t just great at carrying the football though, he has become a lethal weapon for the birds in the air as well. Having over 500 receiving yards in 2019, that was more than he ever had in over 3 years at Penn State. While there were definitely questions about his catching ability coming out of college, Carson Wentz and Sanders put that to rest almost immediately. Sanders was all over the places running screens, wheels, and some in routes that helped break up the defense a bit. He never really had that level to his game in college and to see it come to him right away in the NFL is incredible to see and he should be able to improve leaps and bounds in 2020.
While Miles Sanders’ story was very fairytale and seemed to be something destined to happen, Boston Scott’s was anything but. A 6th round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2018 by the New Orleans Saints, Scott would never see a down with them as they waived him and assigned him to the practice squad. The Eagles would sign Boston off the Saints practice squad late into the season and make him an active player before demoting him back to the practice squad for the following year.
The Emergence of Boston Scott 🎥
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) December 31, 2019
Despite what was the major problem for the Eagles last season, there was a silver lining to this issue. Philadelphia was wounded constantly all season and Scott was brought to the active roster and began to see a little playing time early into the season. Although he was apart of the 53 man roster Boston sat behind a crowded backfield of many runningbacks and never really got his time to shine. That was until late into the season, with both Corey Clement and Darren Sproles going onto IR and Jordan Howard often being questionable there needed to be someone to step up in such a crucial time. Mighty Mouse saw this as an opportunity to make a name for himself and prove that he belonged.
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 3, 2020
While just looking at his numbers it doesn’t seem to be anything great, if you watch the tape you know that Scott was a difference-maker. At 5 foot 6, Scott plays like if you mixed Darren Sproles and Maurice Jones-Drew in a lab. While he is not on their level yet, he displays a lot of the traits that both of these players had. Scott has a bursting speed that allows him to break a small run into a major gain because his acceleration is incredible. Alongside that and his ability to work in the open field, he is also very aggressive and does not go down without a fight.
Boston Scott’s sample size might not have been much in 2019 but he has shown enough that he can be the guy for the Eagles in the future. I think you also have to give a lot of credit to Duce Staley. Duce has helped mold so many great running backs for Philly and he continues to do a great job at making these guys into starting-caliber running backs. Philadelphia holds onto Scott through 2020 and then holds his Restricted Free-Agency rights so if they feel he is the right fit it is likely you will see Boston around for a long time.
— Gayle Saunders (@EagleSessions) December 13, 2019
The NFL has had an incredible amount of skill in the running back position in the last decade. This amount of talent shows that it is very easy to find a guy who can do the job for you and be a serviceable running back. While there is a lot of talent it can be difficult to find a player who you think can be that guy for you for several years instead of 2-3 year intervals. Boston Scott and Miles Sanders have the potential to be a duo that takes Philadelphia’s offense to the next level and be a main piece of the puzzle for a decade possibly. Miles and Boston have different styles of play that work with each other perfectly. Sanders is your zone running back that does a lot of the heavy work. Alongside that, he can also be someone in the backfield that can peel out for a route. While Scott is good at that as well he can be your bruiser and the guy you go to on short downs and goal-line situations. These two players have come from such polar opposite backgrounds and their ability to form a backfield of the future for the Eagles is a welcome sight to see going into 2020.