Saturday, September 5, 2009
Russell's release shows faith in 'Babs'
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks' decision Saturday to release starting free safety Brian Russell shows strong faith in Jordan Babineaux's playmaking ability as more than just a situational player.
I would expect Babineaux to project as the starter even if the team signs a veteran such as Lawyer Milloy, who played for Seahawks coach Jim Mora in Atlanta. That is my take pending official word from the team. If the team replaces Russell with another older player, what's the point? Babineaux's young legs seem to demand playing time with Russell out.
The move to Babineaux would be exciting for Seattle because his athletic ability offers the potential for more interceptions. The big question, in my view, is whether Babineaux can transfer his playmaking ability from a situational role to a full-time one. Some defensive players -- ex-Seahawk Michael Boulware comes to mind -- made plays in a limited role before failing to show consistency as an every-down player.
Babineaux earned the nickname "Big Play Babs" after making several heads-up plays in critical situations, all off the bench. He tackled Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo following Romo's infamous botched field-goal hold in the playoffs a few years ago, preserving a Seattle victory. Babineaux also picked off former Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the final seconds of a regular-season game, returning the ball far enough to set up the winning field goal. Those were among the examples of his big-play ability.
Russell provided what the Seahawks asked him to provide when they signed him two years ago: assignment-correct football designed to prevent big plays by the opposition. Switching to Babineaux suggests the Seahawks might be more concerned with making their own big plays than simply preventing their opponents from making them.