Somewhat lost in Sunday's debacle in the desert (snappy name!) was the strong game by Jason Babin. He tallied a sack and a half, brought regular pressure and was even strong against the run. After 3 games he's got 2.5 sacks and right track for yet another double digit sack season.
This comes after Babin didn't play a snap in preseason and spent a good chunk of camp out with a calf injury. Not only does he look 100%, but he had 5 tackles last week.... So in some ways he's playing better than last season.
And I have to pat myself on the back a bit here. Because I advocated less playing time for Babin this season because I felt he could produce the same amount sacks with fewer opportunities... and so far that has been the case. Babin played 53% of the defensive snaps last week and came out of the game with a sack and a half. This is really similar to what he did in Tennessee, where he was playing less than half the snaps and yet still racking up double digit sacks.
There were games last season where Babin was playing over 73% of the snaps, more than any other defensive lineman on the team. This year, his highest has been week 1 where he played 67% of snaps and it has steadily declined since then.
And yet, he's still right on pace for a 15-16 sack season. Plus of course, Brandon Graham has come in and played the run very well, tallying 3 tackles for a loss last week. So far, it's working just as planned. Here's what I wrote over the summer.
This brings me to my dream scenario for this season. We haven't really seen enough of Brandon Graham at this level to tell what kind of player he'll be, but in college he was a fantastic run stopper. In fact, he led the nation in tackles for a loss while also being no slouch as a pass rusher. So ideally, if he's healthy and back in form I'd love to see him take over as the starter out of camp. He should be the guy in there on 1st downs and most any other obvious run situation. I could see him and Babin nearly splitting snaps evenly and the Eagles being better off for it. Not only are you putting guys in positions of strength, but also keeping them fresher.
Graham isn't a starter and they aren't quite splitting snaps evenly, but Babin has been just as effective with less snaps and Graham has been every bit the player he looked like in college.