Something special has happened at the NovaCare Complex this season and it goes far beyond the Eagles' record.
This has become one of those teams. You know the ones.
The type of team that fans of this city fall in love with. The type of team it just seems like Philadelphians will always look back on fondly. And it's not hard to see why. They've been fun all year. Whether it's hanging out in North Dakota, celebrating on the field or dancing to a Meek Mill song in a team meeting, it's all been a blast.
These guys really love each other; they've become a family. And as hokey as that sounds, it matters.
"We understand that this season in the NFL is a grind," team leader Malcolm Jenkins said on Wednesday. "We put a lot of work in here, a lot of hours, so when we get the time to play or spend time with each other outside of this building, we're going to have fun, we're going to enjoy our time together.
"Because the fact of the matter is, at the end of the season, this team will never be the same. No team in the NFL will be the same. There's always turnover, there's always new guys coming in and out. So in this finite moment that we have, we're going to enjoy."
Wise words from a vet. Jenkins is right. No matter what magic Howie Roseman brings this offseason, thanks to free agency and the draft, the 2018 team will be different. While many of the key players and starters will return next season, this exact group has just one more game together.
So the question is, how did this group of guys become so close?
Many teams get close. It's not really that uncommon. They spend hours and days and months and sometimes years together. But this group has seemed closer than most for a long time.
So when did Doug Pederson first sense it?
"You really don't know," Pederson said. "You sort of have a gut feeling. You have a feeling like, 'This could be a special team, this could be a special year.'"
Then Pederson said a lot of things have to happen for a team to realize its full potential. One of them is to avoid injuries. Oops. That certainly hasn't happened with this group. In fact, the opposite has happened. They've lost so many key players that outsiders have been dismissing them for weeks.
Maybe that's actually what sort of brought the group together.
"We've lost some talented guys, some starters, some role guys, specific guys," Pederson said. "But for me, it was probably through some of that adversity early in the year, middle of the season that we kind of kept things together and we were figuring out how to win a game or two or three and we got on a little bit of a roll. About that time, you kind of knew that, alright, this is a pretty special team. The sky is the limit with these guys."
Jenkins is one of a few guys on this current team who has been to the top of the mountain. He was a rookie on the Saints team that beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV to cap off the 2009 season.
He said it's hard to compare the two teams, especially because he was just a rookie whose head was swimming back then. But it certainly sounds like this team has a special quality.
"As far as the team being close-knit, I haven't been part of a closer group, to be honest," Jenkins said. "It's a special group. So many guys have come here, taken less money to come here. And guys who have gotten traded here or have gotten here on negative situations and everybody plays for each other. Nobody cares who makes the play. We just come to win and have fun doing it. We're looking forward to keeping that formula the same."