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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — The news obviously circulated quickly, but the Eagles put their best political faces and spin forward at the NovaCare Complex on the sudden and surprising release of Eagles’ All-Pro defensive end Jason Babin on Wednesday.
“It sucks [Babin] had to leave, but my first thought was ‘Dang, this is getting serious,’” Brandon Graham said. “Good luck to him; he had leave. I sent him a text, because we have a group check, but it makes you look into the mirror, and this is your shot man, don’t blow it. People come and go all of the time, and now I have to take full advantage it. I don’t really know [why Babin was released].
“They do stuff for some reason, sometimes it’s a number’s game, sometimes it’s a person’s attitude, no matter how much he’s making, can you deal with this guy. I really don’t why with Bab. He’s a try-hard guy and he’s going to go somewhere and produce anywhere he goes.”
But a number of sources, close to the Eagles, revealed a possible reason, other than Babin’s considerable drop off to 5.5 sacks this season, after his 18 sacks led the Eagles and garnered an invitation to the Pro Bowl in 2011.
Essentially they said Babin was a “me guy,” and the decision to release him didn’t come from Eagles’ coach Andy Reid, but from “above” Reid.
They said Babin personally was a great guy, a good family man, and last year, he was a “we guy” in the locker room. But something changed this year, they said, and Babin began looking more at his individual stats, and they were dropping. The fear was Babin held sway over some of the younger players, possibly poisoning them as the Eagles’ season sinks into being selfish like himself. That’s why it was a needed move, they said, “definitely addition by subtraction.”
Babin didn’t endear himself too much this season with Eagles’ fans. In the midst of the Eagles’ seven-game slide, Babin went on Twitter and questioned the loyalty of Eagles’ fans after their 30-17 October 28 loss to Atlanta. He lamented that some of the taunts by Eagles’ fans toward Reid and defensive line coach Jim Washburn were, “Some of the most vile things I’ve ever heard.”
Babin — who was picked up Wednesday by the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars, putting him on seven different teams in nine years — was a topic some of the Eagles would rather turn the page on.
“It happens, and nothing really surprises me in the league,” Eagles’ linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “It doesn’t send a message. Unfortunately for him, we’ll send him the best, and wherever he lands, he’ll do well. It’s his situation.”
In almost a month’s time, the Eagles’ starting lineup looks dramatically different from the last time they played Dallas on November 11.
Gone on offense from that first Dallas game are Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Demetress Bell, replaced by Nick Foles, Jason Avant, Bryce Brown and King Dunlap, who started at right tackle in the first meeting.
Defensively, Babin may be replaced by either Graham, Vinny Curry or Darryl Tapp.
“I’ll come to work and do what I’m supposed to do,” Curry said. “Coach is definitely leaning on the young guys to step up. I was shocked, really shocked [when he heard Babin was released]. Obviously, the coaches felt that they had a decision to make, and I can’t worry about things that I can’t control.”
Injury update: Reid reported at his day-after press conference that Fletcher Cox (tailbone contusion) will not practice Wednesday, along with King Dunlap (MCL strain), DeSean Jackson (fractured ribs), Dallas Reynolds (sprained ankle), LeSean McCoy (concussion), Chris Polk (big toe sprain), Michael Vick (concussion) and Jason Peters (ruptured right Achilles tendon) will not be activated. Jackson is done for the season with broken ribs.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.