PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles really knew their season was over when they showed up at the NovaCare Complex Monday to find large, green trash bags at their lockers.
Saturday's 26-24 loss to New Orleans ended their playoff run after just one game. Instead of preparing for a divisional-round game at Carolina, they were resigned to taking exit physicals, turning in playbooks and fitness monitors, and stuffing their belongings into those bags.
"Nobody expected us to get as far as we did, especially after we started 3-5," Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin said. "But we never stopped believing in ourselves and we know we could have even gone farther (in the playoffs). That's what's so disappointing. We were so close."
They surpassed expectations under first-year coach Chip Kelly, bouncing back from last season's 4-12 debacle under Andy Reid with a 10-6 record that was good enough for them to win the NFC East and reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season.
Typically, Kelly credited the players Monday for making the transition from the University of Oregon to the Eagles so smooth for him and for buying into his system both on and off the field.
"The big unknown for me coming in was how receptive guys would be," Kelly said. "Ultimately, this is a players league and it should be that way. Our goal was to create an environment that would put them in position to succeed and I think we did that. I think the chemistry of this team is probably what excites me the most. This an exciting group to be around. There's an energy about these guys and hopefully we can build upon it."
The chemistry could be affected during the offseason, however.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson made it clear Monday while cleaning out his locker that he wants the front office to restructure the five-year, $48.25 million contract he signed in March, 2012.
Jackson earned $6.75 million this season and is scheduled to make $10.25 next season and $9.75 million in both 2015 and 2016. His salaries for the next three seasons are not guaranteed, however.
"I think this year was a big statement for my team and for myself and the things we were able to accomplish and do," Jackson said. "I definitely feel (a restructuring) is deserving and hopefully we can get it worked out so that I all have to worry about is staying out of trouble, keeping my nose clean, working on my craft and playing football."