"The sooner we got some clarity on those situations, the sooner we could move forward," Babin said yesterday during a photo shoot at a Pitman, N.J., gym on behalf of a nutritional supplement company through which he hopes to market a protein bar.
Washburn indicated at the Senior Bowl a few weeks back that he was hugely frustrated to see his wide-nine blamed for much of the Eagles' defensive struggles in 2011. Babin is just as weary of jousting with reporters and fans, after the Birds tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 50, but somehow still managed to rank 30th in red-zone defense, and 24th in touchdown passes allowed.
"When something isn't working, and you have a new component, what's the first thing people look at? The new component," Babin said. "It's human nature. If we would have won, what's the first thing [analysts] would have looked at? The wide-nine."
Babin said the linebackers and defensive backs needed a while to learn how to play behind the new-look line, but they did, he feels.
"The last few games, people were like, 'Where was this defense?' It was the same defense, it just took a little while to click," Babin said. He said he agrees with his fellow d-end and hunting buddy, Trent Cole, who told the Daily News last week that the Eagles were "inches away" from being a dominant team, in that they were inches away from making the playoffs, and once you're there, you create your own destiny, as the Giants did in winning the Super Bowl.
Babin, who turns 32 in May, added that he expected all along that Eagles coach Andy Reid, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and Washburn would return.
"I think everybody in the building did," he said. "The biggest thing now is to create that cohesion during the offseason" that the Eagles weren't able to create a year ago, because of the lockout. By the end of the season, Babin said, "we were really playing for one another. You could see it on the field. It showed up, obviously, in the 'W' category."
What the Eagles missed going into last season, Babin said, "were those days where it's hot and you're sweating, you're dying, you're racing the guy next to you - those are the things that build that invisible tie between players that shows up in the fourth quarter, shows up in Week 14. I think everyone is just really excited about building that foundation."
If the defense needs personnel changes, Babin said, those changes are "pretty minute." He said he thinks that the young linebackers aren't a huge problem going forward, that by the end of the season, Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews and Jamar Chaney were sniffing out screens and dropping runners behind the line.
Babin got to make his second trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl last month, and as much fun as the trip was, he understands why fan displeasure with the game has led NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to consider discontinuing it. Babin wonders whether a seven-on-seven game, or an outright skills competition, wouldn't be more interesting. After all, people will tune in to watch prospects run drills at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next week. Who's to say they don't want to know which Pro Bowl defensive end can win a bench-press competition?
"I think that would be fun," Babin said.
For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LesBowen.