One year removed from an 18-sack season, Philadelphia Eagles DE Jason Babin was abruptly released yesterday. I don’t mean to pile-on here, but I can’t say I’m sad to see him go.
In fact, I was very surprised they signed him (again) in 2011.
I normally do not play the “I told you so” game, but…I told you so. Back in June of 2011, I wrote an article saying why I didn’t think the Eagles would sign Babin, and now it appears he was cut for similar reasons.
Babin had a prior stint in Philly for one year, back in 2009. After that season, former Eagles safety Quintin Mikell was quoted as saying the following…
“There was just a lot of negativity,” Mikell said. “A lot of people weren’t putting the team first. Everybody’s guilty of it at some point – I’ve been guilty of it here and there. But when it’s all the time, then it’s a problem. We’ve never had that before, since I’ve been here.”
“We’ve never been a selfish team, where guys were more worried about what they did individually than how we did as a team. But we had guys who were more concerned about how the game plan affected them. It was, How am I going to get my sacks if we’re doing this, instead of, ‘Hey, let’s go out and do whatever it takes to win the game.”
Note the bolded part. Only defensive linemen, and particularly DEs, would be worried about getting sacks. And, there were really only two guys Mikell would most likely have been referring to: Jason Babin or Chris Clemons (maybe both guys).
When I heard that quote from Mikell, the first person I thought of was Babin because he seemed like the type of player who desperately wanted to get playing time in order to get some sacks so that it would go on his resume and he could try to “get paid.”
This, of course, was most likely the reason why the Eagles didn’t bother trying to keep him after that season. Good coaches usually do not like “me” players, as they negatively impact the locker room atmosphere.
And that’s what Babin is, a “me” player.
For me, this was confirmed after I read an interview with Babin before he signed with the Eagles after the lockout. Here is a quote from the interview with Steve Wyremski of Pro Football Focus back in June of 2011:
SW: You’re entering free agency this offseason after the lockout is cleared up. Your defensive line coach, Jim Washburn, is headed to the Eagles. With you playing for the Eagles previously for one season and them not matching the Titans offer back last season, is there any bad blood there from your year there that would keep you from signing with them?
JB: No, I think any and all feelings if they were bad could be waived by a healthy contract. There’s one thing that Andy Reid said to me [that] I kind of laugh about now because of the success I had last year, but it’s a story I like to tell.
It was the beginning of my first game as an Eagle and then there on the Jumbo Tron, ESPN or something was on and they were talking about defensive ends in the preseason. They were talking about me, “oh, the most productive defensive end in preseason…” and I’m standing on the field and I wasn’t dressing for the game.
Andy Reid walks by and he goes, “Hey! You got some coach that doesn’t let the best defensive end in the preseason play.” At the time, obviously you can imagine how you feel. I understand the situation and a little later understood his humor/personality and can laugh about it now.
I was paraphrasing there. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but something along those lines.
You can see Andy Reid’s sense of humor coming out there, though it seems that it didn’t sit well with Babin at the time. But, the key part of that answer is the very first sentence in his answer to the question…
His “any and all feelings if they were bad” part indicates to me that, yes there were bad feelings. He was merely being diplomatic in his answer because he didn’t want to ruin the possibility of reuniting with Jim Washburn in Philly.
The “could be waived by a healthy contract” portion of his answer is obvious enough. In essence, he didn’t care what happened before or how his relationship was with the team as long as he got paid.
On the field, I was wary of a one-dimensional player who only had one good season under his belt. Off the field, the guy seemed like he was arrogant and self-serving. Plus, he had already shown his true colors around here before so why on earth would the Eagles bring him back, even if they did have Washburn?
Reid has never been the type of coach who condones locker room cancers or miserable players. He cut or traded such players as John Welbourne, Lito Sheppard and Terrell Owens for those very reasons.
This is why I was surprised when he allowed Babin back into the fold. For one year, it worked as he did what they brought him in to do…sack the QB (at the expense of run defense).
Surely, the move was all about Jim Washburn, but I think the old Andy would have stood his ground and said no, he’s not bringing a guy like that back.
Reid has made a ton of bad moves in recent years, but he has always put a high priority on players with good character. Babin is a minor example, but it is a clear indication of the bigger problem which has been his decision-making.
However, maybe the fact that he cut him now means the old Andy is starting to come back? Either that, or he’s just fixing all of the mistakes he feels he made while he still can.