’21 Training Camp Pre: Poised For A Breakout
[Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of stories from Andrew DiCecco and Geoff Mosher previewing the Philadelphia Eagles as they head into training camp July 27. This story answers the question: Who is most poised for a breakout season?]
The Eagles have several young, ascending players who will have their chance to shine in 2021, on offense and defense.
Many will have breakout expectations. Not everyone will meet them. Who’s emergence is most likely?
Here’s how Mosher and DiCecco see it:
Andrew DiCecco’s pick: Miles Sanders
Last season was supposed to be the year in which Miles Sanders cemented his status as one of the NFL’s premier three-down running backs.
Unlike his rookie campaign, Sanders faced little competition for touches and would be afforded the luxury of running behind a stellar, veteran-laden offensive line.
Veteran Jordan Howard, who yielded 129 touches in 2019, signed a free-agent deal with the Dolphins. The team also neglected to add to the running back room through the draft, essentially handing the primary backup role to change-of-pace runner Boston Scott.
Sanders conceivably had a 1,700 all-purpose yards season in his sights an appeared poised for NFL stardom.
However, offensive line woes, coupled with inexplicable usage and egregious gaffes in the passing game from Sanders, left the rushing attack in a state on constant flux. Sanders also missed four games due to injury, leading some to ponder his long-term viability as a three-down workhorse.
Without question, Sanders must improve his receiving prowess to be considered one of the game’s top runners. The 24-year-old undoubtedly came up short on routine plays in critical moments, but I don’t think that is a byproduct of who Sanders is.
Sanders, who rushed for 867 yards and six touchdowns on 164 carries through 12 games, has little tread on the tires through two seasons. The third-year running back has touched the ball just 421 times in 28 career games, incredulously averaging 15 touches per game.
While Doug Pederson and his staff deployed Sanders in a baffling manner, I anticipate a far more innovative coaching staff to utilize the versatility of his young running back to capitalize on mismatches. Sanders should also benefit from an offensive line that returns Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson, in addition to a diverse group of pass-catchers.
Look for this coaching staff to take advantage of the burst and explosiveness of Sanders and actively find ways to scheme him in open space.
In order for Sanders to turn the corner and fulfill his potential, he must remain on the field. If he manages to stay healthy and improve his shortcomings, Sanders not only has the potential to become a breakout player on a local level, but also a national level.
Geoff Mosher’s pick: Dallas Goedert
We’re not just about to find out what Dallas Goedert can do as the primary tight end, but also where he ranks among the NFL’s best.
There’s room near the top, after Kittle, Kelce, and Waller. Goedert, who in his fourth year will take over the starting job for the first time, will have every opportunity to creep into the top five. The hunch here is he seizes that chance, and runs with it.
That’s what Goedert brings to this offense, the ability to run with the ball tucked into his armpit, creating yards after the catch. That’s also expected to be the backbone of Nick Sirianni’s offensive scheme, which is supposed to thrive off getting players in open space.
Goedert has the size, quickness, toughness and reliable hands to be Jalen Hurts’ primary offensive target this year, especially as the young wide receiver corps comes along in the new offense.
He’s already showcased an 87-target, 57-catch season two years ago in his second year as the backup tight end in a heavily two-tight end offense.
It’s very feasible that Goedert could see anywhere between 90 and 100 targets in 2021 and perhaps exceed 70 receptions and 800 yards. Only five tight ends last year finished with at least 50 receptions and 700 yards, which should be doable numbers for Goedert in this offense.
Last year, he registered a career-best 47.6 yards per game in 11 games, which put him on pace for 761 over a 16-game schedule. He was also on pace for 67 receptions.
The talent is there for the former second-round pick from South Dakota State. The opportunity will be there, unless he’s injured.
Goedert has all the makings of a top-five tight end. This will be the year he sheds the potential label and maximizes his talent.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com and Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) is is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer/editor for InsideTheBirds.com.
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