By Matthew Asher
Jonathan Joel Babineaux, DT #95
Weight: 300 lbs.
Experience: 8th year
The defensive tackle position is one of the most physically demanding positions in football. In order to succeed at this spot, a player is typically both the largest (height and weight) and strongest member of his team’s defense. But just being the biggest man on the field doesn’t mean a DT’s only job is to fill space. It’s his job to figure out what type of play is being run and instantly reacting to it. For the Falcons, nobody currently does this job better than Jonathan Babineaux.
On a personal note, Jonathan is the older brother of Tennessee Titan safety Jordan Babineaux. Growing up in Texas, high school football was obviously a part of Jonathan’s life. Jonathan attended Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas where he excelled in sports, lettering in football, baseball and basketball.
As a basketball player, Jonathan helped his team attain become the number one team in the entire state of Texas. In football, Babineaux was a great linebacker. In his senior year he was named team captain and was selected to the first team All-Conference team for his defensive abilities. He also was a good punter, averaging 40 yards per punt.
For college, Babineaux went out of state and attended the University of Iowa. Jonathan started 31 of his 42 collegiate games. Babineaux was a four-year letterman for his efforts and also earned All-America and first-team All-Big Ten honors as the Hawkeye’s Most Valuable Player on defense.
In his senior year, Babineaux recorded 11 of his 19 collegiate sacks. When his college career ended, Jonathan ended up with 131 tackles with 39 of them going for losses, 19 sacks, 24 quarterback hurries, one interception, two pass deflections, four fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles.
The Atlanta Falcons selected Babineaux in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft with the 59th overall pick. He would immediately make an impact, playing all 16 games his rookie season including starting in six straight games (Weeks 9-14) as Atlanta’s right defensive end. His rookie stats included 36 tackles, one-half sack and one fumble recovery. The fumble recovery came in his first professional game against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 12, 2005.
Babineaux’s sophomore campaign was statistically slightly better than his rookie one. Again playing in all 16 games, Jonathan started just one game that season against Pittsburgh when he replaced Rod Coleman at defensive tackle. That game Babineaux recorded five tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. For the entire season, he picked up 38 tackles and added one interception (returned 6 yards) to his statistics.
It wasn’t until the 2008 campaign that Babineaux started and played in all 16 regular season games. 2009 was statistically his best year as a Falcon. Jonathan led all defensive tackles that year with six sacks to go along with a career-high 58 tackles. He also had two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The best game of his career also game in 2009 against the Washington Redskins where Babineaux recorded 9 tackles and 2.5 sacks
With nine games completed in the 2012 season, Babineaux has started every game and is currently on pace to break his career-high sack mark. This week against Arizona, Jonathan returned a Cardinals fumble for a touchdown en route to Atlanta’s ninth win of the season.
It’s clear that the Falcons made a good choice drafting Babineaux.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.