Philadelphia Eagles running backs unit incorrectly ranked dead last in NFC East

Miles Sanders #26, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Miles Sanders #26, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

If there are any Philadelphia Eagles fans or any NFL fans in general, that can ever figure out the answer to this next question, the rest of us will appreciate it. Can anyone figure out why we obsess over power rankings and things of that nature so often?

Maybe it’s because we’re all so competitive. Maybe it’s because we love numbers and statistics. Seriously, why else would we stop what we’re doing to look at those NFL Next Gen Stats? Why do we debate over Madden’s overall rankings and spend full-time hours adjusting our Fantasy rosters?

Maybe the answers to those questions aren’t difficult to explain. We’re all just so competitive. Every year, we obsess over beating our favorite teams’ rivals so we can go to work and talk trash to coworkers. With that being said, it only makes sense that we’d peek at power rankings to see where our teams and their players rank when stacked up against other NFL talent.

Be forewarned. You’re not going to like how the Eagles running back unit stacked up in a recent ranking. Here’s what was said and a few immediate thoughts that come as a result.

PFF gives the Philadelphia Eagles backfield a failing grade.

Sometimes, you love what Pro Football Focus comes up with. Sometimes, you don’t but tell the truth. You’re always game to give them a look. Recently, they stacked all 32 running backs units heading into the 2021 season. The Philadelphia Eagles placed 27th, good for a last-place finish in the NFC East behind the Dallas Cowboys (5), the New York Giants (12), and the Washington Football Team (19).

Here’s how Ben Linsey, the writer of this one, explains the decision.

"Miles Sanders is a player whose PFF grading profile doesn’t necessarily match the public perception. As a rookie, he earned just a 59.1 rushing grade while running behind one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in football, but he did show promise in the passing game. That flipped this past season for Philadelphia when Sanders improved his rushing grade to 75.3. However, he struggled with drops, as his eight spills were tied for the most at the position.He’ll look to clean those drops up and continue to progress as a runner in a backfield that doesn’t offer much real competition. Boston Scott, Kerryon Johnson, and Jordan Howard will compete for work behind Sanders."

If we’re being honest and taking the emotion out of the argument, Linsey’s argument makes some sense. If we’re using the eyeball test, the most common form of scouting among NFL fans, there’s no way the Birds group of tailbacks should finish behind the likes of the Cincinnati Bengals or the Seattle Seahawks. They landed at 20 and 16 respectively.

It’s also difficult to state the Philadelphia Eagles have the worst rushing attack in the division. Then again, that can be challenged based on what paradigm the person speaking is arguing from. Let’s back up.

We’ll start with the Bengals. Joe Mixon is good but returning from injury, and Giovani Bernard is gone. No one fears Seattle’s rushing attack, right? And, how about the Cowboys?

Ezekiel Elliott, though a compiler of stats is already on the downside of what’s beginning to look like a short career. Then again, Tony Pollard has proven that he could be pretty efficient when called upon, so put an asterisk beside Dallas.

Then, there’s the Giants. No one would deny that Saquon Barkley is one of the best in the game when healthy, but the New York Giants don’t have a ton of options after him. He’s also coming off of an ACL tear. Truthfully, the NFC East’s best rushing attack might belong to the Washington Football Team. Why aren’t they ranked ahead of the Cowboys or Giants?

Antonio Gibson is really good. J.D. McKissic is special. McKissic runs routes just about as well as some wide receivers, but that doesn’t prove that they’re eight spots better than Philly, does it?

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Miles Sanders can break one at any time, and the Eagles found a steal in Round 5 of the most recent NFL Draft with the selection of Kenneth Gainwell. Philly’s got a nice one-two punch now, but the success of the Eagles’ tailbacks during the 2021-2022 season might come down to who the third and fourth guy winds up being and how well they perform when given an opportunity.

Eagles fans demand a recount, but we’ll table this discussion for now. We’ll revisit after the first month of the regular season. We should all have some better talking points then.