The Sack Artist is Free
Jason Babin has recently been released by the Philadelphia Eagles. I feel both a little pang of regret, and of happiness, whenever a good ex-Tennessee Titan has misfortune. Regret because I like them, and happiness because they shouldn’t have left, darnit! But Babin poses an interesting question for us… should we bring him back to Tennessee? I think there are two big reasons for doing such a thing; #1, our needs, and #2, his ability.
So let’s start with us. The Titans currently have only two even remotely decent pass rushers at Defensive End. Wimbley and Morgan have been gaining steam consistently throughout season; Morgan appears to finally be living up to his status as a 1st rounder, and Wimbley has been making a bigger impact in the pass rush game. But behind them is not a single valuable pass rusher. Kenyetta Dawson is average at best, and brings little value against the run. Solomon is interesting, but he’s not a designated third down rusher (more of an every down D. End like Morgan, but far rawer and less athletic). Pannel Egboh is a little more intriguing, but clearly far stronger against the run. A dedicated pass rushing end, to sub into third down & when Wimbley/Morgan get tired, would really improve our Defensive End group.
As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. Babin has had a dramatic drop in production this year, with only 5.5 sacks. But the question is… why? Has Babin really dropped off in ability? I think there’s a very good case to be made that any drop in ability has been small, at most. The entire Eagles defensive line has had a dramatic drop this year; Trent Cole has only 1.5 sacks, Daryl Tapp has half a sack, and Brandon Graham, despite increased playing time, has only 1.5 sacks. Sounds to me like the problem is defense-wide.
A much better source of Babin’s decline (just to point out, he’s still the Eagles leading sack artist) is the terrible play of the Eagles defense, specifically the defensive backfield. Asomugha, DRC, Nate Allen- all big names, all playing terrible this year. The Eagles just haven’t been able to pin their ears back and rush like they used to. Washburn is their defensive line coach, and he’s running the wide 9 system. But without a defensive backfield able to hold its own, the system fails.
Babin has a good bit left in the tank. But I doubt the Titans sign him. First, it’s likely a team making a run will claim him off waivers and pay his full salary; it is incredibly unlikely the Titans will do that. Even if he isn’t claimed off waivers, the contract we might offer is unlikely to exceed other teams interested. Finally, we’d need a big run to get back into playoff contention. And that’s highly unlikely. I don’t think the Front Office will pony up for an aging, but productive, veteran when we’re building off of youth & aiming to compete next year.
Still, too bad. If he had been around at the beginning of the year, our defense would have been a lot better. But it’s probably preferable to build for the future, pick up a player or two in the draft (hopefully in the first round, given the strength of this year’s class) and sift through the FA class.
Myles MacDonald Out.