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'It's a terrible feeling now that it's over.' Eagles reflect on season during cleanout day 

Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox

Finality. That's the feel of days like Wednesday, when players meet for the last time as members of the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles and clean out their lockers, filling trash bags with personal belongings, take their exit physicals, sit down with coaches, and exchange handshakes and hugs with their teammates.

And say goodbye.

"It's a terrible feeling now that it's over. We didn't play up to our standards and our expectations and this isn't any fun at all," said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who finished his 12th season as an Eagle.

Cox, one of more than a dozen players whose contracts will expire in March, said he's still processing the emotions of the season, which ended on Monday night in the Wild Card Playoff round at Tampa Bay. Center Jason Kelce didn't take questions about his future, instead reflecting on what went wrong in a season that started so right.

A 10-1 opening to the year melted in the end as the Eagles lost 5 of their final 6 regular-season games before stumbling in Tampa.

"Obviously, a very disappointing season. Whenever you get to this day, you're having exit meetings, you're talking a lot about ideas that could have, if the outcome was different, improved performances, fixed the offense, and you're having a lot of those discussions," Kelce said. "Obviously, it's a very underperforming season for us as a whole that didn't live up to the potential that we think that we had. It's a frustrating close on what was a probably even more frustrating season."

On this day, players headed off to their private destinations for some rest and relaxation before working on 2024. The goal is to return bigger, faster, and stronger for every player.

"Staying healthy, that's the key to this game," safety Reed Blankenship said. "We had so many injuries in the secondary. Guys in and out. It's hard to establish consistency when that's happening."

What's next? The Senior Bowl takes place at the end of this month. The NFL Combine begins in Indianapolis on February 26. The 2024 business year and free agency opens at 1 PM on March 13. The NFL Draft is on the clock on April 25.

There are a lot of items to check off for the Eagles between now and then.

"We have a lot of things to fix," Kelce said, who said that the turning point in the season was the San Francisco game. "When you lose 6 of 7 games, it's very difficult. Everybody kind of did their own thing as to how they stopped us offensively. San Fran really didn't blitz – they played a lot of soft coverage and kind of just rushed four. The last two weeks (against the Giants and Bucs), obviously as everyone has seen, it's been a lot of pressure.

"It wasn't the same method that stalled us out in all of those games. I don't know that there's any one thing that sticks out. Collectively, we never really got it going offensively after that."

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