Elimination Game: Birds Fight to Hold on their Jobs

With the release of veteran defensive end Jason Babin, Eagles players are wondering who’s next . Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles cut defensive end Jason Babin.  Are More Heads on the Chopping Block?

Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Near the closing minutes of a playoff game when the outcome has been decided, former NFL head coach and TV  color analyst John Madden used to talked about the finality for the losing team and the realization that the season is coming to an abrupt end.

For the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles and for that matter every other non-playoff team , the realization that they are not going to the postseason manifests itself with sudden personnel changes, speculation about the futures of the coaching staff  and players trying to put a positive spin on what has otherwise been a horrible season.

“I feel like on paper, the talent on this roster is ridiculous, but you don’t play the games on paper,” said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. “It’s the turnovers, the penalties, the injuries, which aren’t little. That’s how it’s going. We just got to keep positive.”

The only elimination game the players are in now is the fight to hang onto their ability to make a living as football players. The Eagles released veteran defensive end Jason Babin, who had 18 sacks last year and went to the Pro Bowl.

Of course, head coach Andy Reid said it was to give younger players like defensive end Vinny Curry a chance to play.  In a real sense, Babin’s release is a reminder that the Eagles right now are a sinking ship. When the boat is going under, everybody is expendable.

“It’s a process and the way things are done in the NFL,” said defensive end Trent Cole. “I don’t live life worried. I live for the next day and I worry about what’s now. When I worry about now, I don’t have to worry about the future.”

Considering that Cole has just 1.5 sacks, it makes you wonder why he wasn’t the one who got cut. Oddly enough , Babin was in Cole’s garage when he got the phone call from Reid that he had been cut. In the aftermath of Babin getting cut, Cole said there was a point where he had to turn off his cell phone.

“I’m just going to keep [coming here] every day. I’m just going to keep doing my job and [keep] working at it. If my day comes, my day comes,” Cole said.  “I’ve had the realization my day is going to come near and this is what it is. Me, personally, I had that realization that I’m just going to play until I can’t play anymore.”

Looking at the way at the Eagles secondary has played this season where blown coverage’s have become a weekly occurrence, you would think that somebody on that unit would have gotten their walking papers as well.

By the end of the season you will see a huge exodus of players to go along with a few coaches like defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and of course, Reid.

Prior to Monday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, former Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent, who was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame, said he doesn’t blame Reid for the team’s 3-8 record.

“It’s about the guys in that locker room because we’ve seen the system work and at times, it’s worked brilliant,” Vincent said. “Teams don’t win in the National Football League because they’re the most talented team. It’s about execution. At the end of the day, it’s about locker room accountability.”

Vincent said he has seen in chinks in this team’s armor from the way they’ve conducted themselves on the sidelines and from quotes that he’s read, it’s not surprising that the losses have happened with the current group of Eagles players.

Last week, DeSean Jackson, who is out for the season with broken ribs, said the Birds lacked the kind of veteran leadership in the locker room that he saw from veterans like Brian Dawkins when he was a rookie.

But Maclin said not having that presence of guys who’ve been around for awhile is no excuse for the Eagles to be where they are now.

“I don’t feel that’s any reason for us to be sitting where we are,” Maclin said. “I feel like everybody is not like that (Dawkins), everybody’s not that kind of person. The way you handle that is to understand the personalities on your football team and for guys to respect each other and that’s how we turn this around.”

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