"Miles Sanders is our number one back! There's no question about it," exclaimed Head Coach Nick Sirianni, with his very own Miles Sirianni secured on his lap.
Coach was quick to emphasize Sanders' influence in the offensive backfield following his career-high performance in the team's 29-21 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The team is 4-0 for the first time since 2004.
Sanders, Trey Sermon, Jalen Hurts, and Kenneth Gainwell combined for 210 rushing yards – against a Jaguars team that was ranked No. 1 in run defense entering Week 4, nonetheless.
"Over 200 yards rushing – that's a day, " said Sanders.
His 27 carries are the most he's had in the NFL – he's only matched that number once in his entire playing career while playing college ball for Penn State. His career-high-tying134 rushing yards plus two touchdowns propelled the Eagles toward their fourth consecutive win.
Sanders now ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (356).
"I think Miles ran really hard today. Miles protected the ball. Everybody protected the ball. He made plays. You see him running up the diagonal route, cutting across the field. He played angry in my opinion," said Hurts.
"He played with a purpose this afternoon. He deserves it. He had a hell of a game."
The run game was essential to the team's success in Sunday's suboptimal weather, which Hurts described as "unconventional circumstances."
The cold lateral rain paired with temperatures dipping into the 50s and gusty winds would have been the star of the show had Sanders not stepped – rather rushed – into the limelight.
"Whenever they call my number, I'm going to be ready, regardless," said Sanders.
"With the weather being the way it was, we leaned on our offensive line, and our offensive line had a heck of a game."
That offensive line he credited created ample opportunity for Sanders to shoot gaps and pile on yards, despite mounting injury concerns throughout. Starters left tackle Jordan Mailata and right guard Isaac Seumalo both exited the game due to injury, but that didn't inhibit the line – Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta embraced the opportunity and produced when called upon.
"That second quarter, our offensive line was rolling. And that's a good defensive line. I've known that going back to my Indy days that that's a really good defensive line. But our offensive line, I'll take them over anybody in this league," said Sirianni.
"I love that group. They are gritty. They are grimy. They are tough. They are physical. And we had to play some guys today. You can see how good of a job that Coach Stout (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland) does of developing guys and getting guys ready to play that might not play. Jack Driscoll (at left tackle), Sua (Opeta at right guard), those guys stepped in and did a really nice job."
The combined effort to execute an effective run game was integral in overcoming the 14-0 deficit the team fell into during a notably sluggish first quarter. The team persisted, though trailing, to score 20 unanswered points in the second quarter on three rushing touchdowns.
"There were a lot of ugly runs in there that he (Sanders) made positive yards out of. That's what you want out of a running back," said center Jason Kelce.
"When we block it up well, you're gonna get some good yards but when running backs can make something where there really ain't much there, that's when you know you got a good one. Miles was doing a lot of that today. He turned a lot of potentially negative or just kind of bad runs into at least OK runs."
Right tackle Lane Johnson shared a similar sentiment.
"I'm happy for a guy that, you know, works hard and does all the little things right. And when he does good, the linemen feel like we have a part in that and whenever he succeeds it makes my day. Hats off to Miles for a big day."
A career-high performance against the most onerous opponent yet is a big day indeed.
But for Sanders, the most exciting aspect of it all, is the opportunity to do it all again in Week 5 against the Cardinals when the Eagles travel to Arizona.
"It's exciting – I'm excited as heck. I've never been 2-0, never been 3-0 here. But the best thing about being 4-0 is being able to be 5-0. We're just going to go back to watch film from this game to see what we can get better at, and then on to the next," said Sanders.