Bird Of Praise
Eagles See Sermon Delivering in '23
During his half-hour availability Tuesday at the NFC Coaches Breakfast segment of the 2023 Annual League Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz., Eagles coach Nick Sirianni expressed optimism about his diverse running back stable.
“We love the addition of Rashaad [Penny] and wanted to coach him for a long time,” Sirianni said. “He was playing at San Diego State when I was with the San Diego Chargers, so was able to see his career as a college player. And I always thought very highly of him and the teams that he was on.
“We all saw Kenny Gainwell have a really good playoff run, and it seems like every time Kenny is in the game, he makes plays. Whether that’s in the pass game or whether that’s in the running game.
“Boston [Scott] being back is huge. I think that’s somebody that you always wanna have on your team. Really glad we have him, especially because I know how much Shane [Steichen] likes him, too. I remember Shane always saying, ‘Man, I love Boston.’ He just provides great depth.”
But the effusive praise didn’t end there.
“Then, Trey Sermon, I’m really excited about him,” Sirianni gushed. “I can’t tell you how many times at practice he made a cut, or you just saw him in his pads, or he made a play on a screen – whatever it was – you’d be like, ‘Man, this guy’s got a chance to be really good.’ I wish we could get him touches, but we couldn’t do it last year.”
A 2021 third-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers following a decorated four-year collegiate career in which he accumulated 3,432 scrimmage yards and 29 touchdowns, Sermon landed in Philadelphia via the waiver wire, 10 days before the 2022 season began.
After being kept under wraps for most of his second season, Sermon represents a proverbial lottery ticket, a wild card in the Eagles’ backfield equation.
The 24-year-old appeared in just two regular-season games last season, making his Eagles debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars, yielding 19 yards on two carries in monsoon conditions.
Sermon’s first carry, a 14-yard burst, was the byproduct of a well-crafted inside zone in which Sermon read the defense, executed his cutback, and accelerated through the crease.
“I feel like I’m pretty acclimated now,” Sermon told Inside The Birds after the game. “I spent a lot of work – even after practice – just to prepare, so whenever I get an opportunity, I’m ready to go.”
A three-snap cameo ensued the following week against the Cardinals, but Sermon was otherwise shelved for the remainder of the season, relegated to the team’s inactive list.
As Sirianni alluded to, the 6-foot, 215-pound Sermon was caught in a numbers game in a crowded backfield, where touches were at a premium.
With each gameday designation meticulously calculated and accounted for, Sermon – fourth in the pecking order behind Miles Sanders, Gainwell, and Scott – found himself on the outside looking in every game day.
But beyond toiling in relative anonymity, Sermon’s redshirt sophomore season afforded him a different perspective, perhaps slowing the game down for a talented, albeit enigmatic, third-year player.
Sermon had already came off a whirlwind rookie campaign and turbulent start to Year 2, in which he became a casualty in favor of undrafted rookie preseason sensation Jordan Mason.
The mental reps absorbed in meetings and physical reps in practice should only enhance his development.
In many cases, players respond favorably to a new environment, along with a new beginning and clean slate.
In Sermon’s case, his draft pedigree and age will surely stir intrigue among the coaches as training camp nears. His physical dimensions and intangibles would theoretically fill a sizable void in the backfield as well.
Oh, and to sweeten the deal, Sermon is still playing on a rookie contract.
Sermon’s practice performance has left an impression on Sirianni and there figures to be no shortage of opportunities for the former Sooner and Buckeye to turn heads this summer, as the team is expected to take a long look at their tantalizing reclamation project.
The Eagles dedicated a valuable roster spot to the dormant running back last season, even as injuries piled up and forced the team to clear room for reinforcements.
In regard to Sermon, the third-year running back feels right at home in this Eagles offense.
“I feel like it fits it a lot,” Sermon had told ITB during the season. “It’s a lot of things I did in college, at Oklahoma and Ohio State, so I feel like this offense fits me very well.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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