3. The Philadelphia Eagles should know better than anyone that the running back position is the most punished on an NFL field.
Sure, Philly has shown their commitment to sparing the guys in their backfield. In this day and time, you almost have to, but even with the emphasis that the NFL has placed on player safety, the game is just as physical now as it has ever been. Just ask Todd Gurley. Can we argue now that, maybe, the Los Angeles Rams ran him too much?
Philly’s been pretty smart with their running back roster. Sometimes, they’ve done that to a point where they haven’t used guys nearly enough. You can make the argument that there was no excuse for LeGarrette Blount getting zero touches in Week 2 of 2017’s season versus the Kansas City Chiefs. One could also make the argument that had he been used too often and if the Eagles hadn’t traded for Jay Ajayi midseason, Blount wouldn’t have been fresh for the postseason that year either.
Blount scored a touchdown in the Eagles’ Divisional Round Game versus the Atlanta Falcons. Then, he ran over Andrew Sendejo and plowed his way into the end zone in the NFC Championship Game a week later. Two weeks after that, he helped set a tone with an early carry versus his former team in Super Bowl 52. He also ran for a very important second-quarter score in that one. Had he not been fresh, those plays may not have happened.
Whether it’s been Sanders, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, or Wendell Smallwood, for the most part, again, during Pederson’s era, his staff has done a good job with their running back rotation, but believe it or not, in 2019, Sanders’ 229 touches on offense (that includes 179 rushing attempts) exceed anything he ever asked LeGarrette Blount or Jay Ajayi or Jordan Howard or Josh Adams to do.
Sanders has already been called upon to do a lot, and asking him to carry a full load in 2020 may not be what the doctor ordered (pun intended).
No one wants to see “26” plowing into the line 26 times a game, not this season or in any other. If you need a reminder of why that’s the case, look no further than across the field to the other sideline when the Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys twice a year. Ezekiel Elliott ran over guys too at the beginning of his career, and he already looks tired four years in. How did he look last season? What about “Beast Mode”? Philly may want to be smart because, in the end, we all want to see the best of Sanders for as long as we’re allowed to.