Philadelphia Eagles have excellent complement for Sanders in Gainwell

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Eagles soared to their most impressive opening day victory since, arguably, the 2017 season by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 32-6 in Atlanta. It was quite the showing considering the number of questions the team entered the 2021 campaign with.

One of the biggest being what the running back rotation would look like and if game 1 is any indication, Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell figure to factor in heavily.

Sanders is the featured back and it showed. Now, in his third season, Sanders continues to look the part of a true three-down back carrying the ball 15 times for 74 yards, with an average of 4.9 yards per carry.

Since 2019, he has rushed for a total of 1759 yards while scoring nine rushing touchdowns. He has shown that he can also be utilized in the passing game as well as he has 745 career receiving yards during that same span of time. In fact, according to Reuben Frank of NBCS, by exceeding 2500 career scrimmage yards, Sanders made a bit of Eagles history yesterday with his performance:

Miles is indeed Philly’s leading back and it showed as he was on the field for roughly 66 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. A performance such as this will likely keep him on the field as he looks to surpass the 1000-yard mark for the first time in his young career. While Sanders was productive against Atlanta, he wasn’t the only Philadelphia running back to contribute to the team’s victory.

The Philadelphia Eagles rookie tailback was on full display.

Rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell entered the game around the 7:40 mark in the second quarter and seemed to be the perfect compliment to Sanders. He added nine carries for 37 yards and a touchdown.

For those who are unaware, Gainwell starred in his final season at Memphis rushing for 1459 yards and 13 rushing TDs, while also providing 51 catches for an additional 610 yards and three more scores. He may not be the number-one option out of the backfield but he certainly provides a viable option as a backup to Miles Sanders, something that was lacking at times last season.

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Gainwell was on the field for 35 percent of the offensive snaps and could prove vital in regards to keeping Sanders fresh throughout the season, especially considering that it is now a 17-game slate. He worked as more of a change of pace option rather than a third-down back or to spell Sanders. That could be a possible recipe for success for the Philadelphia-based squad moving forward in terms of snap counts out of the backfield.

Of course, this is just a one-week sample size, and the running back rotation could be different from week to week depending upon the matchup but the results thus far have been encouraging. Both Sanders and Gainwell will look to build upon their respective performances in the Philadelphia Eagles home-opener vs the San Francisco Giants on September 19th.