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2009 Season Retrospective: Jordan Babineaux

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Jordan Babineaux




Bears at Seahawks

Deon Grant fell midway through a Greg Olsen route and left him wide open, but Jordan Babineaux stopped him at the reception point with a solid open field tackle.

Seahawks at Cowboys

Seattle challenged the ‘A' gaps on the next play. Hawthorne and Aaron Curry aligned between the defensive tackles of a wide-set four man rush. Curry blitzed and broke through with power. Hawthorne dropped left, Darryl Tapp dropped into the left flat and Jordan Babineaux struck from the right. Romo misfired.



Hawthorne broke contain again on the next play. He drifted left and got behind a lead blocker allowing Barber to cut right and towards the open field. Then Jordan Babineaux had his first safety moment. He sprinted across the first down marker and fought hard to stop Barber before he converted the first.


The Cowboys motioned Miles Austin into the backfield, using Marion Barber as the up back. They ran a toss sweep off of right end. Seattle's linebackers fought off and broke through Austin's lead blockers, but Austin exploited a crack to effort past the line. He was upright and exposed and stumbling through the marker when Jordan Babineaux sunk his helmet into his arms and popped the ball from his grasp. Seattle failed to recover. The play was called back on a Martellus Bennett hold.


Marion Barber scurried for six and Tony Romo converted the first on a pass to Martellus Bennett. Seattle, for its part, put a lick on Bennett: Aaron Curry standing him up and Jordan Babineaux delivering the blow.

Lions at Seahawks

I say Seattle allowed Pettigrew to receive for 18 because that is how the zone was constructed. Jordan Babineaux had perfectly timed a delayed blitz and broke down to sack Matthew Stafford for ten. Seattle then went soft. It dropped a loose zone and rushed four. Seahawks defended the first down marker and opened the underneath. Aaron Curry seemingly knocked Pettigrew another three yards over the marker and for the first.

49ers at Seahawks

Here's where hustle gets its due: Wilson started the play just outside the tackle box and in position to be blocked by a pulling lineman. And so he was. Right tackle Adam Snyder pulled out and put a body on Pistol, but Pistol didn't quit. He went high on Snyder and yanked him aside by the shoulder pads. Back in the scrum, Babineaux recovered and punched out the fumble. Gore was attempting to wrestle his ankle free and somewhat atop Terrill. The ball bounced forward and toward no team in particular before a streaking Wilson looped into the action and recovered for 43 yards.


Seahawks at 49ers

9. Gore is untouched into the third level. Jordan Babineaux takes a bad angle towards Gore, but, again, what can he do?

10. What he does is attempt to flush Gore towards Lucas, the only other defender with a chance to stop Gore.

11. Gore expertly threads between Babineaux and Lucas. He angles towards the sideline to position Lucas and then cuts in. That puts Hill between him and Lucas and clears the lane to the end zone.

Bears at Seahawks

Jordan Babineaux is still struggling at free safety. Criticism he received following the 49ers game was unjust and over the top, but in a general sense, his timing is off and his angles are loose. Give him time.

Seahawks at Cowboys

Seattle sent a safety blitz on the next play. Jordan Babineaux was game until he squared against Marion Barber. Babineaux pulled up and attempted to evade Barber and Barber did little more than stand to complete the block. Barber was nearly butt to thigh with Romo and Babs should have powered into Barber and jolted him back. If you can't be sure you can go around a blocker, power through him and hope. It could have worked. It should have worked with a running start.


This play pissed off a lot of Seahawks, but the ruling was justifiable if not maybe right. Marcus Trufant was attempting to curl underneath Miles Austin's deep route. Jordan Babineaux was to play over top, though he clearly wasn't deep enough and would have been beat on a clean throw attempt. Trufant curled into Austin's route. The contact looked incidental, with Trufant clearly not attempting to cut off the path of Austin, but he did cut off the path of Austin and Dallas got the call. So it goes.

49ers at Seahawks

The play didn't look too exciting at the onset. Seattle broke in a nickel package against the 49ers two-tight end, power formation. David Hawthorne knifed into the backfield but lost Frank Gore when Gore followed his lead blocker left. Jordan Babineaux followed but overpursued. Bad things were about to happen. Seattle was in nickel against a run, and two of its three run stuffers, the linebacker and strong safety, were behind and out of the play. Bad things were about to happen for the 49ers.

Seahawks at Texans

I am profiling Aaron Curry this week, but between Curry posts, I want to talk a bit about the Seahawks in general. Seattle allowed a touchdown on the first play of the game. The Texans quick-snapped Seattle and Andre Johnson burned Marcus Trufant up the right sideline for an easy score. The quick snap made the play. Johnson was able to get around and past Trufant off the snap, and though Trufant didn't lose ground chasing Johnson, it didn't matter because he was already beat. Jordan Babineaux should have adjusted his angle to intercept Johnson, but even if he could have, the damage was mostly done. The Texans out game planned Seattle and left the Seahawks defensive brain trust looking like a big bag of DeHaven.

Outlook: On December 6, I wrote:

Jordan Babineaux is a young, cheap and functional free safety.

I think I was a little high on victory. Today, I think would amend that to:

Jordan Babineaux is an acceptable free safety but only if he is the worst player in your starting secondary.

When I am writing my game reports, I look for rich moments that reflect common play. I pick a noteworthy moment Babineaux screwed up his spacing in deep cover, because over the course of many plays, I noticed Babineaux frequently screws up his spacing in deep cover. Jordan's highlights are defined by quality tackling, hustle and a knack for big plays. Jordan's lowlights are defined by bad spacing, bad angles and bad execution. He could maybe overcome some of those deficiencies with experience.

We may never know, because Babineaux has been replaced by Earl Thomas. Babineaux is interesting within the continuity of the Seahawks. I was sure that Brian Russell could be improved upon through a replacement level talent, and Babineaux proved that. He wasn't much better than Russell. His range was similarly inadequate. I think Babs is a touch faster than Russell, but Russell was quicker to break the right way. He was not as assignment correct as Russell. He was a more reliable tackler and a better blitzer. I would call it a net positive, but wouldn't get into a bar room brawl over the matter.

Like Babineaux did for Russell, Thomas should tell us a bit about Babineaux. Thomas has far superior range and, even as a rookie, better read and reaction. Fans often mistakenly discredit safeties that are around big plays. Safeties lacking range evade this withering criticism through absence, but like an error in baseball, being close enough to participate in the carnage is a lot better than witnessing the carnage and then scrambling to aid the clean up. Both Russell and Babineaux were regularly absent on deep plays. Thomas will be more involved, but he won't  bat a thousand. Do not confuse more visible bad plays with inferior overall play.

Babineaux should return to some kind of utility defensive back role. He is settling into veteran status and that status could secure employment into his early thirties. As yesterday's slap fight between manager Don Wakamatsu and Chone Figgins evidences, sport is still a job. Workplaces suffer stress, factionalism, lingering resentment and moments in which the three violently react.

Fans wonder why less-skilled players can hold on for so long. Fans can become indignant when an older, less-skilled player blocks a younger, more promising talent. It flies in the face of fair competition. Sport is a workplace for some, and workplaces are like a feudal society. Employees that show up early, show up ready, buy in, are flexible, trusted and ask little in return earn a position not through merit of ability but through loyalty of service. That's Babineaux.

His continued employment depends on fitting in, staying healthy, remaining versatile, contributing when he can and hustling his ass off.