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Kendricks: A Lot To Learn From Fall

He found Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch after the Dec. 7 game a 24-14 Seattle win at Lincoln Financial Field, Mychal Kendricks did, and promised another meeting soon.

"They agreed. They said, 'You're definitely a good team,' " Kendricks said. "They showed us their respects. They just beat one of the best defenses in the league (Arizona on Sunday night) and they know. You couldn't have told me three weeks ago that weren't going to the playoffs. This is a different situation now. We're not going. It's reality. I'll take this game and learn from it and I'll take this offseason and learn from what has happened this season.

"It's crazy, man. We were right there, right where we wanted to be It was so promising ..."

Kendricks pauses. Losses to Seattle, Dallas and Washington have changed the picture, of course. There are no playoffs. Kendricks finishes his third season an Eagle on Sunday with little satisfaction. He's become a tremendous player, a force at inside linebacker, but that is no consolation. He's in it to win it.

And the only thing to win is regular-season game No. 10 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The players will clean out their NovaCare Complex lockers on Monday and shake hands and hug their teammates and then head their separate ways. That's just the way it is in this business. A faucet that runs at 100 mph from September through December shuts down immediately.

The perspective from Kendricks, one of the rising players here, one of the core young standouts, is wide. He came into the league as a second-round draft pick and played the SAM linebacker in a 4-3 defensive front for a team that had its 2012 season go south in a hurry. Kendricks spent his rookie season trying to excel in a tumultuous environment: The Eagles fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo five games into the year. He was replaced by Todd Bowles. The Eagles stunk. Kendricks tried to figure heads from tails most of the year, and showed enough flashes of brilliance for the team to feel excited.

In 2013, a new coaching staff arrived and moved Kendricks inside in the 3-4 front and he took some time to adjust, as did the team to head coach Chip Kelly. A 7-1 second half of the year timed nicely with Kendricks' emergence as a playmaker in the defense.

This year, the expectations were high. An early-season injury set Kendricks back, but the Eagles were winning and the feeling was that once the team was as healthy as it could be down the stretch, the Eagles would again claim the NFC East.

"Three completely different seasons and experiences. It's a good perspective. It's wide, too, not narrow by any means," Kendricks said. "It's over a span of three years in the league, three tooootally different years. Last in the NFC East to going to first ini the division and reaching the playoffs and having a fighting a chance to make the Super Bowl and then to this year and not finishing at the end. "Out of it as a rookie. One hundred percent out of it, not having a chance and just having the rest of the season. Last year, getting that taste. Everything came together and then it all shut down immediately in the end in the playoffs and saying, 'We're going to get here again next year' and then this year not to get there ... nobody took it for granted. There was no disbelief on this team."

It ends on Sunday. Kendricks points to pride and the love of the game for reasons to go out and excel at the Giants. It's an NFC East rival and it's the NFL.

"We will go out and play hard and play to win the game," he said. "That's how you're supposed to play the game."

Kendricks has played at a very high level this season, despite missing those four-plus games with a calf injury. He's second on the team in tackles, including efforts of 16 total tackles and a forced fumble against Seattle and 10 tackles, nine solos, and a sack on Saturday at Washington. Nobody on the team plays with a higher motor or with more emotion than Kendricks. He has grown tremendously as a leader on the team this year, responding with some of his best football after a mentor, linebacker DeMeco Ryans, went down with a torn Achilles tendon in the win at Houston on November 2.

None of that matters on this day, in this week. Kendricks is way, way bummed that a season that seemed on the verge of something special ends in a game that means nothing in the standings on Sunday.

"We're not goinig to the playoffs, so you might as well go ahead and win this game and end it that way," he said. "I can't describe the hurt I felt this weekend. It was horrible. I had to get over it and I did. That's the nature of the game and the business we're in. Three games ago you would have thought we were well on our way, but a couple of things didn't fall our way and we finish it up on Sunday. I intend to finish it strong.

"I think this year is a really good learning year as far as understanding how fast things change."

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