Football was different in 1997, when Eagles rookie running back Duce Staley got all of seven carries for 29 yards for a 6-9-1 Eagles team coached by Ray Rhodes. But Staley, now the team’s running backs coach, reached back to those days Thursday when asked if he knew of an Eagles comparison to the current running back duo of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders.
“I think, honestly, it reminds me of Charlie Garner and Ricky Watters, ‘Thunder and Lightning’,” Staley said.
Watters rushed for 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns on 285 carries in ’97, and added 440 yards on 48 catches. Garner added 547 and three TDs on 116 carries, plus another 225 yards on 24 receptions.
“Every time I see ‘em out there on the field -- you look at Jordan, he’s always falling forward, he’s always going to get that extra yard. What I see on film, and as a running backs coach, what we take pride in, if nothing’s there, getting back to the line of scrimmage,” Staley said of Howard.
Staley said Sanders’ big-play ability as a receiver puts stress on defenses.
“If you’re dynamic in the passing game, you start catching a bunch of balls, you’re able to break tackles and run good routes. So now it’s up to the defense -- do we want to play a 'backer on this guy? Do we want to put a nickel on this guy?” while still accounting for the wideouts and tight ends, Staley said. “I think it’s a little bit of a dilemma for 'em.”
If other teams discern that the Eagles have a tendency related to which back is on the field, Staley said the challenge is to “find more ways of doing the same thing, no matter if it’s motion or formation.”
Howard has 525 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries, plus 10 catches for 69 yards and a TD. Sanders has 336 yards on 76 carries and a touchdown, plus 305 yards and a TD on 22 catches.
Brandon Brooks’ strong week just got even better.
The Eagles’ Pro Bowl right guard was named the team’s recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award a few days after signing a four-year, $56.2 million contract extension.