Lose leading receiver Jackson (45 catches, 700 yards) for the rest of the season, with what Reid called multiple fractures of his ribs and upper chest? What does it matter now? Let him heal and be ready for revitalization under a new coach in the spring, maybe with a new quarterback. (Though Jackson was placed on the new IR, from which a player can be recalled. That's unlikely, after he suffered what Reid indicated was about a 6-week injury running an end-around Monday night against Carolina.)
It's time to play the kids, Reid acknowledged Tuesday, with the Eagles 3-8 and dragging a seven-game losing streak down to Dallas, where they are expected to be without quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy, both sidelined with concussions, in addition to Jackson and, of course, Babin.
Seven rookies started against Carolina. Rookie defensive end Vinny Curry got 21 snaps, in Curry's first NFL action; he'll get more work this week. With Jackson down, you'll see more from rookie Damaris Johnson. Rookie running back Bryce Brown will be hard-pressed to do more than Monday night's franchise rookie-record 178 yards on 19 carries, but he can eliminate the two fumbles he lost in his first start since high school. And rookie quarterback Nick Foles can certainly improve on the 119 passing yards he managed against the Panthers, though he made progress by avoiding turnovers in his second start.
The Babin news broke Tuesday afternoon, hours after Reid told reporters about Jackson's injury, at his day-after news conference. After completing his 94 WIP radio show Tuesday evening, Reid said he had told Babin pretty much what he told the public in the statement announcing the release - that Reid appreciated everything Babin has done, but waiving him "gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some of the younger guys in the defensive-line rotation."
In an NFL Network interview, Babin was asked if he was surprised when Reid gave him the news.
"Yeah, I was definitely surprised by the move. That's the way football goes. You can never be too surprised. There are crazy things [that] happen every week, every year," Babin said.
Babin must clear waivers, because the trade deadline is well past. A team claiming him would be on the hook for about a third of his $5 million base for 2012. Because Babin claimed termination pay when Seattle released him in 2008, he cannot do so again; the Eagles owe him no money and will take no future cap hit.
Babin, a reserve here in 2009, began his second tour with the Eagles as part of the disastrous free-agent signing spree of 2011, when he inked a 5-year, $27.325 million deal after a Pro Bowl year in Tennessee under defensive-line coach Jim Washburn, who preceded Babin to Philadelphia.
Reid told the Daily News Tuesday evening that Washburn was OK with the release of Babin. Reid said fans shouldn't infer that Babin is the reason for the Eagles' defensive struggles.
"We have an abundance of defensive linemen. We have some young guys that I think are energy-givers, and that I think deserve an opportunity to play," Reid said. "Jason came to work every day and worked his tail off in practice and in games. It also gives him an opportunity to catch on with somebody and continue on with his career."
Reid was asked how Babin could be worthy of 40 snaps Monday night (he had one of the Eagles' two sacks of Cam Newton), then get released Tuesday.
"I just thought that was the right thing to do," Reid said.
In the NFL Network interview, Babin said the players are to blame for what has happened to the Eagles; players in general, not himself specifically.
"Really, a lot of it is due to us. If you don't do what you're supposed to do - if you're not covering the right guy, playing the right coverage, in the right gap, getting the right call, not communicating - you're giving the other team a big advantage to making a big play," Babin said.
Jackson, a frail-looking 5-10, 175, has missed only four games in his 5-year career, but durability was a concern during the 2 years he and the Eagles sparred over a contract extension. The team signed Jackson for 5 years and around $51 million last May. His 274 career receptions are the most by any Eagle in his first five seasons, but Jackson has just two touchdowns this year. His 15.6 yards per catch are Jackson's lowest figure since his rookie season; both Vick and Foles have struggled to get the ball downfield.
Seems possible the Eagles will get wide receiver Jason Avant (hamstring) back this week, and they need him, with DeSean Jackson down . . . Andy Reid said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (tailbone contusion) probably won't practice Wednesday. He said tackle King Dunlap (MCL strain) will not practice; ditto center Dallas Reynolds (ankle). Running back Chris Polk (toe) remains sidelined . . . Reid said Michael Vick will again try to pass the imPACT test Wednesday . . . Reid rang down the curtain on the possibility of tackle Jason Peters playing this season. Peters is recovering from Achilles' surgery. The Birds had to add him to the active roster this week or consign him to season-ending IR. Reid said Peters will go on IR.
On Twitter: @LesBowen