Jim Schwartz: ‘I don’t know where we’d be without Cre’Von’
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - When Joe Douglas first ran Cre'Von LeBlanc past Jim Schwartz, the Eagles defensive coordinator did not say he preferred a nice Bordeaux.
Schwartz, however, did admit he had no idea who the third-year cornerback was when Philadelphia's pro personnel department asked him to take a look at the film when LeBlanc, 24, hit the waiver wire in early November.
"Our scouts, midway through the season, Joe Douglas came to me and said, ‘Hey look, there's this guy that just became available and our scouts have a good feel for him,’" Schwartz explained. "Guys like Howie Roseman and Joe, they’re up front. But some of those guys that work in those back rooms without a light, without a window and stuff like that, they’re pouring over all these guys that get cut or go somewhere else."
The Eagles, of course, were in desperate need of help due to injuries at CB and Douglas came to Philadelphia from Chicago, who claimed LeBlanc off waivers as a rookie back in Septemeber of 2016, just months after Douglas exited the Windy City for the Eagles.
LeBlanc ended up starting 10 games over two seasons for the Bears before making his way to Detroit at the beginning of this season. When the Lions needed a roster spot and put LeBlanc on waivers the Eagles pounced and the rest is history.
"Well, that might have been the key to our season putting the waiver claim in.” Schwartz assessed.
LeBlanc has solidified the slot position for the Eagles over the second half of the season and showed up in a big way during Wild Card Weekend against his former team in Chicago whether it was the big tackle of 270-pound tight end Adam Shaheen in the open field, the controversial pass breakup of Anthony Miller before the half that may have saved points for Philadelphia or being tasked with shadowing Tarik Cohen at times.
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds and more short-area quickness than long speed LeBlanc's skills as a player project well to the slot and that's where he has settled things for Schwartz, who has dealt with season-ending injuries to Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, as well a the persistent hamstring problems of Sidney Jones, his top three projected corners. LeBlanc, though, has even helped on the outside in a pinch during a win over the New York Giants.
“He's played some outside corner for us, too,” Schwartz said. “I don't know that we win that Giants game if he can't step in and play outside corner, which was a position that he had hardly ever played and he had not practiced for us. But competitiveness and toughness go a long way and he brings both of those.”
Traits the Eagles will need on Sunday in New Orleans where a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees throws it to the NFL's leading receiver in Michael Thomas and an even more dangerous Cohen-like threat out of the backfield exists in Alvin Kamara.
As coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday “You’re in the dance. How close can you get to the stage?”
The Eagles decided to bring a nice LeBlanc to that dance otherwise they never would have been invited.
“I don't know where we'd be without Cre'Von,” Schwartz admitted.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen