PHILADELPHIA - The alarm rang loud and clear in the Eagles' locker room earlier this week.
Coach Andy Reid delivered a wake-up call to his team by releasing veteran defensive end Jason Babin. And there's no guarantee more players won't be cut if the Eagles' losing streak continues.
"I've got to keep working hard," Eagles defensive end Trent Cole said. "I might be next. You never know."
Seven consecutive losses have left the Eagles with little hope. Their chances of making the playoffs at 3-8 are only slightly better than hitting that $500 million Powerball lottery last week.
They are in last place in the NFC. Only Jacksonville (2-9) and Kansas City (1-10) have worse records.
They could possibly sneak into the postseason by winning the final five games to get to 8-8, but they've provided little evidence that can be accomplished. Their last four losses were all by at least 13 points.
"We're certainly in a spoiler type role here now," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "That can be very rewarding. There are still a host of reasons to go out and get better every day. It doesn't matter how we get it done, but we're going to get it done. There are some great reasons to go out and play some solid football."
Another loss at Dallas tonight will give the Eagles their first eight-game losing streak since they opened the 1968 season with 11 straight defeats under coach Joe Kuharich. Kuharich was fired after that season. Reid will almost certainly suffer the same fate at the end of this season.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie has not spoken since the preseason, but made it clear then that another 8-8 record would not be acceptable.
"I'm coaching to get ready to get after the Cowboys." Reid said. "That's what I'm coaching to do and I don't go beyond that. That's how I go and I'm not going to let anything distract that other than getting this football team ready to play them."
With the playoffs out of the picture, the Eagles players are now playing for the future. Whoever succeeds Reid is going to be looking at the game tapes from these last five games and watching to see who gave up and who kept fighting.
The fighters will be reporting to training camp at Lehigh University next summer.
Here's an update on some of the positions that are in flux.
Quarterback: The Eagles need to find out if rookie Nick Foles is the quarterback of the future. So far, the results have been mixed. Foles, a third-round draft pick, has made some decent throws, but also has made a lot of mistakes. That inconsistency could prompt the Eagles to bring back Michael Vick for at least one more season, but only if he accepts a major paycut.
If Lurie replaces Reid with San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Ventnor native and Holy Spirit High School graduate may be tempted to bring along Alex Smith.
Running back: LeSean McCoy's concussion could wind up sidelining him for the rest of the season. That presents an opportunity for rookie Bryce Brown to prove himself. Brown, a seventh-round draft pick, rushed for a team rookie record 178 yards and scored two touchdowns against Carolina, but he also fumbled twice. If he can avoid the turnovers, the Eagles may wind up creating a "two-headed monster" tandem like they once had with Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter.
Offensive line:- A rash of injuries has created opportunities for younger players such as center Dallas Reynolds, tackle Dennis Kelly and guard Danny Watkins. Assuming center Jason Kelce and tackles Todd Herremans and Jason Peters recover from their injuries, Reynolds and Kelly could be valuable backups next season. There is a lot of pressure on Watkins, the 2011 first-round pick who was hurt, then demoted this season.
Defensive end: Cole, an eighth-year veteran, is having his least-productive season. The 30-year-old has just one and a half sacks this season after registering 10 or more the last three years. Brandon Graham is replacing Babin as the starter. The 2010 first-round pick has been playing well as a backup after a disastrous 2011 campaign. Veterans Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt, plus rookie Vinny Curry, can help themselves down the stretch.
Secondary: Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has been a massive disappointment since joining the Eagles last season. Hailed as one of the best in the league, he's not even the best on his own team. That honor goes to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, though he's also had a few bad games. Rookie Brandon Boykin has been inconsistent in the slot. Safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman really need to improve and do it quickly because both have been terrible in coverage lately.
Contact David Weinberg: