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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Eagles defensive players Fletcher Cox (DT) and Rodney McLeod (S) at a press conference earlier in the season. Both players' future with the team are unclear. Photo by Al Thompson

TAMPA: The Philadelphia Eagles season is over. The Birds (9-9) rebounded from a 2-5 start to go on a 7-2 run including a four-game win streak to grab a playoff spot no one believed was possible…except for the players in the Eagles locker room.

But like Nick Sirianni said during his postgame interview, “It stings because that journey of the 2021 Eagles is over, and that team will never be the same again. There will be changes. Never does a team look exactly the same as it did the year before.”

There are question marks on offense with the future of quarterback Jalen Hurts and a number of receivers including draft disappointments J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor.

Among the veterans on defense whose future is uncertain include but not limited to defensive linemen Derek Barnett and Fletcher Cox. Linebackers Genard Avery and Alex Singleton plus safeties Anthony Harris and veteran safety Rodney McLeod, who has been one of the pillars of leadership in the Eagles locker room since he arrived in 2016 after starting his career four years earlier in St. Louis.

After registering six tackles during the Eagles 31-15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card playoff game at Raymond James Stadium Sunday, McLeod was asked about his thoughts with regards to his future in Philadelphia. Could the Bucs been his last in an Eagles uniform?

“Yeah, that’s real,” the 31-year-old said postgame. “The seats change every single year. My future here is unknown. This is not how I wanted it to end if this is the last time for me. At the end of the day man, I’m proud of my guys. Proud of what we’ve overcome this year and what we were able to do with this team. We just were appreciative of the moment and really cherishing the moment because this team will never be the same again. But I like how we fought, and I love those guys for continuing to fight all the way to the end.”

Eagles defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (90) reacts after sacking Bucs quarterback Tom Brady during the Eagles 31-15 loss in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game. Photo by Andy Lewis.


* Boston Scott scored a 34-yard rushing TD in the fourth quarter, marking the longest rushing TD by an Eagle in the playoffs since Brian Westbrook’s 62-yard TD on 1/13/07 at New Orleans.

* Kenneth Gainwell capped off a 10-play, 93-yard drive with a 16-yard TD catch from Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter.

* Ryan Kerrigan became just the fifth player in Eagles history to record 1.5+ sacks in a playoff game, joining Darwin Walker (1/13/07 at New Orleans), Derrick Burgess (1/23/05 vs. Atlanta), Hugh Douglas (12/31/00 vs. Tampa Bay) and Carl Hairston (1/3/81 vs. Minnesota).

Each of Kerrigan’s sacks (first playoff sacks of his career) happened on third down, forcing a pair of punts by the Buccaneers toward the end of the second quarter.

* Javon Hargrave combined for 1.0 sack after splitting QB takedowns with Derek Barnett and Kerrigan in the second quarter. Today marked Hargrave’s first contributions to postseason sacks since taking down Brady on 1/22/17 at New England with Pittsburgh (AFC Championship).

* Jalen Hurts (23 years old) became the youngest Eagles QB to start in a playoff game.

* Jason Kelce started in his 129th consecutive game (including playoffs), which is the longest active streak among NFL centers, as well as the longest streak ever by an Eagles center. *

Notes supplied by Eagles Media Relations Department.

Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii

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