BGA: Scouting Jason Babin

Earlier today, the Jets announced that they had signed 34-year old pass rusher Jason Babin. Babin, a two-time pro bowler had worked out for the Jets on Monday and will presumably be in the mix for a situational pass rushing role, with Antwan Barnes currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

The 6-3, 267-pound Babin was a first round draft pick in 2004 and has made stops with several teams since then. He was a pro bowler with Tennessee in 2010 when he registered 12.5 sacks, but he topped that in 2011 with the Eagles when he led the league with 18 sacks and was named as an all-pro. While he hasn’t threatened that number since, he did have seven sacks in 2012 and 7.5 last year.

After the jump we review footage from the 2013 season to try and assess what he still has in the tank and how he might fit into the Jets defense.

Who is Jason Babin?

As noted, Babin was a first round pick in 2004. However, this was a surprise. While he was recognized as a first-team all-American after a breakout senior season where he recorded 15 sacks, he still wasn’t a projected first rounder in many places, even after showing an impressive slate of workout numbers at the combine, including a 4.62 forty, 28 bench press reps and a 121-inch broad jump. However, the Texans traded 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks to get back into the first round and selected him with the 27th pick.

In his first three years with the Texans, he recorded 13 sacks but never more than five in a season. He was then traded to Seattle, which was frustrating for Babin because they had a set rotation which meant he barely played in 2007. In 2008, the Seahawks released him early in the season, but the Chiefs picked him up and he did record two sacks in seven games for them.

In 2009, he joined the Eagles, for whom he had 2.5 sacks but it was in 2010 when he joined the Titans and finally got an opportunity to break out. His 12.5 sack season saw him reach the pro bowl for the first time and enticed the Eagles to bring him back.

In 2011, he was outstanding, peaking towards the end of the season when he had a run of three games where he recorded eight sacks. The third of those games was against the Jets and saw him spark them to a 45-19 win as he lit Wayne Hunter up in a three sack performance. Big deal, right? Everyone was tearing Hunter up that year, weren’t they? Actually, no. Prior to that game, Hunter had really settled down, giving up one pressure or less in six of the previous 10 games. Babin entered the last two games with 18 sacks and a chance to challenge the all-time record, but came up empty.

In 2012, Babin was having a reasonably good season with 5.5 sacks in the first 11 games but the Eagles struggled as a team and fell out of contention early. That’s why Babin was released just prior to the waiver deadline, enabling the Eagles to create additional cap room for the following season when he was claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. After some initial speculation that Babin wouldn’t be motivated to play for the Jaguars because he was hoping to get picked up by a contender, he committed himself to playing hard for them and recorded nine sacks in 21 games for them.

After opting out of the final year of his contract, Babin actually re-signed with the Jaguars but then was released when they signed Chris Clemons and brought in a couple of other pass rushers. He joins the Jets on a two-year deal with the second year apparently being a team option.

The numbers

Ten seasons
130 games
90 starts
347 tackles
62.5 sacks
12 passes defensed
14 forced fumbles
Three fumble recoveries

Here’s what I observed from watching footage of Babin, divided into categories:

Usage

Babin was primarily used as a conventional 4-3 defensive end most of the time. He typically lines up wide, well outside the tackle, in an unconventional four point stance. He sometimes stood up and played as a 3-4 linebacker, but rarely more than a handful of snaps in a game. He played both on the left and the right, which was a departure from his Eagles days, where he was almost exclusively on the left. While Babin has been a starter for the last few seasons, he has typically played around two-thirds of the snaps and when he does rotate out, it’s typically on running downs.

Pass rush

This is obviously Babin’s forte and he still demonstrated a burst off the edge and some good speed and techniques. He has a knack for coming up the middle untouched on stunts, partly due to good timing but also because he disguises the inside rush well before making a hard plant. A pure speed rush off the edge is something the Jets didn’t have much of last year, especially once Barnes got injured. However, what sets Babin apart is that when he is initially repelled, he transitions from speed to power really well and often drives his blocker back, either collapsing the pocket or creating separation to enable him to regain a leverage advantage. When a second blocker comes across to pick him up, perhaps off a stunt or if he beats the first man, you’ll often see Babin drive that guy back.

Moves

Babin uses the spin move a lot. In fact, at times, he arguably may have overused it. However, it was extremely successful against certain teams. As well as a conventional or clean spin move, Babin seems to have a knack for spinning off his man while driving him back towards the quarterback and falling to the ground to pressure the quarterback low. This is interesting because there aren’t many Jets who use the spin move and it’s believed Karl Dunbar favors other techniques. Could Babin mentor someone like Quinton Coples to get him to add this to his arsenal?

As noted, if he doesn’t beat his man off his initial move, he keeps moving forward and this creates opportunities for him to rock them with a secondary thrust, or duck under to get to the quarterback.

Run defense

Babin made plenty of positive plays against the run, as you might expect making use of his speed and athleticism to shoot gaps, fight off blocks and hold his ground.

He has one major weakness though and that sees him caught inside quite a lot. If there’s ever a counter, a run that’s bounced outside or any other misdirection, he is at risk of being caught up in traffic, which means the Jaguars gave up a lot of yardage on outside runs where he wasn’t able to set the edge. It also seems like his instincts in the running game are lacking because if the other team ever motions a guy in his direction or gets someone lined up outside to block down on him, it’s rare that he anticipates this and eludes the block. He also overpursues to the inside on occasion.

You expect a pass rushing specialist to create running lanes by being too focused on getting upfield but this wasn’t an issue very often for Babin. If the plan is to use him in passing situations, then any deficiency in his run defense would be less of an issue anyway.

Pursuit

Babin is impressive in pursuit and still has pretty good speed. On one play, the 49ers ran a naked bootleg that looked to set Colin Kaepernick up with a chance to make some decent yardage, but Babin reacted quickly, closed on him and forced a throw away. On another, he chased all the way across the field to tackle CJ Spiller on an 18-yard run.

Tackling

Statistically, Babin is a very reliable tackler. According to PFF, he only has 11 missed tackles since 2006. Having said that, his four in 2013 were the most he’s had since then. A sign that he’s lost a half-step, perhaps? One of these was a play where he blew up a run and someone else finished the play off though and two were near-sacks.

Playbook

Babin has played primarily with 4-3 teams in recent years, but as noted they did use him as a linebacker at times, so he will at least have some level of familiarity there. While Barnes was healthy, the Jets primarily operated out of a four-man front on passing downs, but they went to three-man fronts with Wilkerson playing the nose more in the second half of the year. Either way, using Babin in these packages and getting him to do what he does best shouldn’t be alien to him.

Coverage

Coverage isn’t really part of Babin’s job description. However, he did drop into coverage 24 times last year after having done so just 35 times from 2007 to 2012 inclusive per PFF. On a couple of plays, he reacted well to a short pass and made the tackle. One of these was an outstanding play where he blew up a shovel pass near the goal line. In terms of actually dropping into coverage, there was actually one play where he took a deep drop and jumped to deflect a pass incomplete down the field. On another he dropped back and then when there was a dump-off pass underneath he came off his man to try and make the tackle, but overpursued in the open field.

Penalties

One concern could be penalties. Babin has averaged 11 per season over the last four years. He jumps offside a lot and also had a couple of unnecessary roughness calls for getting into it with another player after the whistle last year. I could see him getting some roughing penalties for hitting the quarterback low, although he didn’t in 2013. He did get one for a helmet-to-helmet hit though. On the other side of the ledger, he does draw a lot of holds.

Special teams

At 34, I wouldn’t anticipate much in the way of special teams contributions from Babin. However, the Jags did use him on the punt rush unit a handful of times.

Instincts

As noted, Babin’s instincts in the running game may be lacking, but he should know all the tricks of the trade when it comes to generating pressure. In 2008 he admitted he was much more comfortable rushing the passer as an end and that learning to stop the run was a challenge for him.

Athleticism

Maybe Babin has lost a step but he still shows impressive flashes of speed, strength and power. I don’t think there’s any question he still has gas in the tank.

Injuries

Unlike most of the low-cost, potential value moves the Jets have made under John Idzik, Babin is a player without major injury concerns. He hasn’t missed a game since 2009. He did miss some time in preseason in 2012 when he hurt his calf and he was playing through a groin strain last year.

Motor

As noted, Babin played about two-thirds of the snaps in 2013. The most snaps he played in any game was 66. If he ends up in a situational role with the Jets, then he’ll surely be able to handle a lower workload and remain fresh enough to put forth a consistent effort. He did play hard with the Jaguars, but there were plenty of games where they were getting blown out and you sensed everyone was just going through the motions.

Overall

If you asked me yesterday if I thought the Jets should sign Jason Babin, I’d have probably said no. However, he is a talented pass rusher and does still seem to have the athleticism to contribute consistently.

I really hope this is a case of “you can never have too many good players” rather than a sign that Antwan Barnes isn’t expected back any time soon. Babin would seem to be a short term stop-gap, but if he’s able to mentor or pass on any knowledge to some of the younger players on the roster, then maybe his influence will be wider-reaching.

One thing of relevance to the work I’ve been doing recently is the fact that he did seem to draw a lot of double teams for someone lining up exclusively on the outside. As we’ve learned from my research in recent weeks, it might not be possible for offensive teams to give him the same level of attention with the Jets that he was getting in Jacksonville. Therefore the optimistic view would be that he could easily surpass last year’s production. However, as he’s a year older, he’ll also have to fight off Father Time, who might be a more formidable opponent than any double team blocker he might face.

Exclusive stats from PFF were used in this article and we thank them for giving us access.




30 comments
NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

The Jets have so many weapons on the d-line, that teams won't be able to give Babin the kind of attention he got in J-ville. Unless this is the year he hits the age wall, it could be a great signing, especially with Barnes uncertain. Could we see a rotation at some point with both Barnes & Babin (the killer Bs)? Could we allocate the roster space for both?


Bent, can you please expound on "If you asked me yesterday if I thought the Jets should sign Jason Babin, I’d have probably said no." with some specifics why? (Or is it as simple as his age?)

funkymonk
funkymonk

Oh, and also, THANK YOU Bent, as always this is great work and a great read, particularly in the off-season when the only other things out there are stories about Johnny Football's latest instagram post.

funkymonk
funkymonk

I know Babin has had an up and down career, but you don't rack up 18 sacks in a season through luck, and even his ho-hum 7.5 sacks last year is better than anything Coples/Barnes/Maybin or any of our sack "specialists" have accomplished recently. Although we haven't heard the details yet, I'm sure Idzik didn't break the bank, and I'm pleased with the way he builds depth while finding value in the market. Great signing.

Daniel Diffin
Daniel Diffin

Absolutely a good signing for the Jets. Their D-line is obviously their greatest strength--but the lack of a good edge pass rusher was their one weakness. Babin won't be expected to play all that much, but should provide a very good change of pace, especially on passing downs. And he is a very good depth signing. 


Now, as Kniff mentioned, let's see what we can do to add some veteran insurance for the O-line.

kniff
kniff

It's good to see Idzik is not afraid to make a preemptive move, as Barnes (as much as we are rooting for his return)  is a question mark...


While it is late in the game, Babin's signing is proof that it CAN get done, and I might echo some concerns about Colon, and adding some strong vet depth at the Guard position, as well...


Cooper12
Cooper12

It it easily researched, only took about 2 minutes, wonder why no mention of how big of a jerk this guy was considered in Philly? The fans hated the guy. Again, I know this site is all about pom poms, but I would think this would be pretty important info, no?

harvlis
harvlis

This D-line is going to kill a few QB's.  No one is going to look forward to playing us.  Now, get us a few solid OG's, Idzik, and bring on the Pats. 

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

In regard to Babin, hey, you never know...I know alot of people will disagree with this but I would give Larry English a shot. This kid is really smart and can have a "mayhem" type effect on the team. Maybe he needs a guy like Rex to bring out the best in him.

nickballs
nickballs

LOVE THE SIGNING....low risk, high reward......cover up for the loss of Barnes and hopefully just additional fire power for when he returns.......so pumped it football season

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Damn Bent, you're quick!  No preseason needed for you.

 Four point stance?  Can't recall seeing that before.  Like a sprinter?



jaym
jaym

I remember Richardson saying that Dunbar does not want his linemen using the spin move because the linemen lose sight of the ball. So I wonder if Dunbar is going to let Babin use the spin move when rushing the passer, when he wouldn't let Richardson use the move.

Bent
Bent moderator

@NYCPEinGermany Just on the basis that they've already got enough players at that position and bringing in another older guy who won't play special teams creates a roster squeeze.

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

additionally, let's not forget the dunbar factor. Playing with the best dline coach in the league might eek another good season or two out of him.

Brendan
Brendan

@kniff  Rex already said Colon is ready to go, they're just being cautious. The guy passed his conditioning test, so how hurt could he still be? 

hitchhiker
hitchhiker

LOL @ calling this a Pom-Pom site. Have you ever read any of Corey's "articles?"

It would seem some Internet Jets "fans" have been trolled by ESPN & NYDN for so long, they are now apparently unable to recognize objective reporting, like this or any bent article.

Brendan
Brendan

@Cooper12 Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know the same cretins who booed the Pope and threw snowballs at Santa Clause and are notorious for racist chants are now some kind of barometer for what type of person a player is. 


If you ask his teammates, or his coaches, he was great. His position coach is on the record as saying he thinks Babin was a scapegoat for ANDY REID MAKING HIS OFFENSIVE LINE COACH THE DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR. That happened, it really did. Somehow they all act surprised when it didn't work, and then they cut Babin to save money. 


This is all "easily researched," btw. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Cooper12


I just wrote a 2,500 word scouting report after doing six hours of film study on the day the Jets signed a player and you're complaining it isn't comprehensive enough.


This is based on GAME analysis and specifically looks at his time in Jacksonville, where he actually seemed to have matured and settled down.


Yeah, he's kind of a meathead and has complained about certain things in the past but that doesn't have to be the main focus of a FILM study, does it?  And if he turned out to be a jerk then it's a low money deal where they can get rid of him and still have the same team they had two days ago.


It's obviously NOT that easily researched either, otherwise you'd have complained about it when you were bashing the move yesterday based on how many teams he'd played for.  If this information is so important and so commonly known why no mention of it in your comment bashing him?


"I know this site is all about pom poms"


It isn't at all.  However, it seems to be all you can talk about.  Every comment you make is whining and complaining (ironically, given your distaste for Babin doing the same thing) that a JETS FAN SITE is saying things that are SUPPORTIVE OF THE JETS!  How dare we?!?!


And yet it isn't even true as we pride ourselves on our balanced coverage of the team.  If you don't like it, please go away and frequent another Jets site instead and don't forget to collect a refund on your way out.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Disgruntled Jets Fan Yes, kinda like a sprinter.  It's not *that* rare, I've seen guys like Cam Jordan doing the same thing, but Babin's stands out because of how exaggerated it is.  Makes it easy to pick him out before the snap when doing a film study!

__fense
__fense

@Disgruntled Jets Fan I know Maybin used to line up like a sprinter to get a little more speed in his speed rush. Maybe it's the same idea?

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

@jaym Babin is not a rookie though, I doubt they'd try to tell a veteran to stop uaing a favorite technique.  Plus it's less of a concern on passing downs I think.

 I guess Dunbar's focus on the ball may be why guys like Harrison and Ellis are so good at getting off blocks to get the ball carrier.

marcus81
marcus81

@jaym  how good would Freeney have been without the spin move?

funkymonk
funkymonk

@Brendan @kniff Sure, Colon is probably good to go, but we can't expect that he'll stay healthy for a full season, he's at the age where linemen often break down. I'd also like to see them bring in some more depth at that spot, if nothing else as camp bodies who learn the system in case we need to sign them off the street later on.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Disgruntled Jets Fan @jaym It's not like none of them ever spin off a block.  Especially in the running game.  Richardson does it a lot.