Two weeks after joining his new team, Cre’Von LeBlanc was thrown to the wolves. Well, one wolf, really – future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
It didn’t go so hot. Not just for LeBlanc, but the entire Eagles team, from offense to defense to special teams.
LeBlanc’s performance was about what you’d expect from a player who had been out of work for two days before signing with the Eagles on Nov. 5, then having to learn everything about Jim Schwartz’s defense in a short period of time.
“It doesn't take long to be around that guy to know that he's competitive and he's tough,” said Schwartz, the Eagles defensive coordinator, on Tuesday. “It took a little bit -- he wasn't a rookie, so a lot of times with those guys, it's just a matter of getting his terminology up-to-date and things like that. So it was sort of by necessity.
“He needed to get up to speed quickly, but he was up for the task. He's played some outside corner for us, too. 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.”
LeBlanc is up to speed now and playing like he wants to stick around in Philly. So good as he been at making open field tackles and in coverage as a slot cornerback, it makes one wonder what the Detroit Lions and head coach Matt Patricia were thinking when they cut him on Nov. 3.
When he arrived, only the hardest of hard-core fans probably ever heard of him. To most, he was probably nothing more than a hopeful stopgap solution to a secondary that was hammered by injury, a player with a funny French-sounding name.
For the record, he is from Belle Glade, Fla., and attended Florida Atlantic University.
Also for the record, Schwartz doesn’t think the Eagles would be here right now getting ready for a rematch with the Saints in Sunday’s Divisional round of the playoffs.
"Cre'Von is one of those guys that's really stepped up for us,” said Schwartz. “I don't know where we'd be without Cre'Von. Our scouts, midway through the season, (Vice President of Player Personnel) 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.’
“And guys like (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Howie (Roseman) and Joe, they are up front, but some of those guys that work in those back rooms without a light, without a window and stuff like that and they are pouring over all these guys that get cut or go somewhere else. Well, that might have been the key to our season putting the waiver claim in on -- I had never heard of Cre'Von LeBlanc before and they brought him and said, ‘Hey, we're thinking about claiming this guy,’ and it was right before the Saints game last time we were able to click him in.”
LeBlanc actually played two pretty good seasons with the Bears, getting into 28 games with 10 starts over that time. He recorded two interceptions as a rookie in 2016, his first one being returned for a 24-yard touchdown.
“We had played against him last year,” said Schwartz. “My exposure was only watching our game against Chicago last year and watching him against guys like Alshon (Jeffery) and if you remember, they were down significantly in that game and I think it was Alshon that called a ball, maybe it was Nelly (Nelson Agholor), and he went hustling down and caused a fumble around the goal line. When the game was sort of out of hand and everything, you could tell what a competitor he was.
“But honestly, coaches really had very little to do with (bringing in LeBlanc). That was our scouting staff and particularly some of those pro scouts that aren’t guys that are up on podiums a lot of times. We owe a lot of our season to that.”