By itself, the performance of defensive end Jason Babin on Sunday was impressive. But even more impressive is that his four-tackle, one-sack performance came after not dressing for a single exhibition game since the Pro Bowl in late January.
"There was a point in about the second quarter I told (defensive line coach Jim Washburn) something along the lines of 'Expletive, I'm back, expletive,'" Babin said. "And I think that we both knew that I was back in the swing of things."
Needless to say, the Eagles' sack specialist came out on fire last Sunday.
"Maybe it was because I had to spend all my time with (head athletic trainer) Rick Burkholder at 6 AM every day," joked Babin, who had been sidelined with a calf injury. "Everything turned out great with my rehab. I was kind of impressed by how well it turned out. My conditioning was good, I felt good, and thankfully I guess I didn't need preseason to keep my craft alive."
Babin's return fortified a defensive line that includes newcomers in rookies Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry, as well as increased contributions from players like Philip Hunt. And as good as their group numbers were last season, Babin sees plenty of room for improvement.
"The most disappointing part about (last season) was, we left so many sacks on the field," Babin said. "And it wasn't by anybody's fault but ours. Not doing the exact right footwork, the exact right steps or the exact right calls that we were supposed to do; that we practiced. It was a little disconcerting. That leaves a lot of room for improvement, believe it or not, when you have that many front four sacks. We just hope we can stop the run and get in a position where we get to rush the passer."
One of the biggest criticisms of his game – and many players on the line - was that he didn't play the run as well as the pass. But the defense was stout against the Browns running game Sunday, limiting running back Trent Richardson to only 39 yards on 19 carries. One of Babin's most impressive plays was when he shed offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and tackled Richardson after just a 1-yard gain.
This week, however, Babin and the defense face a much different task.
The Ravens' opening game of the season was also their opportunity to showcase their new no-huddle passing attack. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco moved the offense at a rapid pace, preventing opposing defenders to get comfortable. But while it worked well against the Bengals defense, Babin doesn't expect the Ravens to see the same results.
"I think our defensive line is a little bit unique," Babin said. "One, we pride ourselves on stamina and running to the ball; running every play. And when we get tired, we've got four new guys coming in. so we have just wave after wave; we can just bombard them. So I don't really think it affects us as much where a team (has) guys play 70 plays."
Of course, one of the best ways to disrupt any opposing offense at home is the crowd. How does Babin expect Eagles fans will act Sunday?
"Loud, ferocious, and as long as you don't make any mistakes, I think it's going to stay that way."
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