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Jim Schwartz talks the importance of the Eagles signing Cre’von LeBlanc

Plus, the Eagles DC talked about facing the Saints again.

The Eagles defensive coordinator spoke to reporters on Tuesday and recapped a bit about how they were able to stop Tarik Cohen on Sunday, as well as how important a handful of players were in that win. Jim Schwartz wasn’t shy about his appreciation for newcomer Cre’Von LeBlanc, and also talked a bit about their last game against the Saints and how they bounced back after the loss.

Here’s what the DC had to say:

On the Eagles run defense

Schwartz was asked about the improvement to the allowed yards per carry over the past few games, and he says it obviously starts with the front seven, which includes every man knowing their job and finishing their tackling.

He emphasized that one missed tackle can make a scheme look bad and the rest of the men on the field, but also that tackling goes beyond just making the take-down, and involves positioning and knowing where their teammates are and where they fit in the scheme. He also noted that in the second half of the season he feels like the guys have settled into with that a little bit more and you’re seeing the results of that now.

Schwartz also said that the secondary is tackling better because of all of those things, and they’ve always relied on the guys up front for that, but now everyone knows their role within the scheme and it has developed throughout the season.

The DC was asked how they bottled up Tarik Cohen on Sunday against the Bears, and Schwartz said most of that credit goes to Nigel Bradham and Malcolm Jenkins. He went on to say that they had a huge hand in that, and noted that he can’t say enough about how those guys played. Schwartz pointed out that the one big play Cohen broke out on wasn’t their fault either, because it wasn’t their coverage.

He also talked about how sometimes they treated Cohen like a receiver and that coverage went to Cre’Von LeBlanc, and he’s another guy who has stepped up when they needed him to. Schwartz said that he’s talked before about how he doesn’t know where they’d be without Avonte Maddox, and LeBlanc is another he doesn’t know where they’d be without him.

On Cre’Von LeBlanc’s addition

Schwartz talked a bit about how Joe Douglas came to him during the season and said there was a guy available [LeBlanc] and that scouts liked him. He said it’s the guys on staff that don’t really get recognition who scour tapes and finds guys who might be able to contribute, and Schwartz noted that putting a waiver claim in on LeBlanc may have saved their season. Schwartz even admitted he had never heard of Cre’von LeBlanc before they came to him, and didn’t even look much at the tape.

The DC continued to laud LeBlanc and said that it took him a little bit to get acclimated to their defense, but it didn’t take long for them to notice that he was competitive and talented. Schwartz also said that he’s not sure that they would have won the Giants game without LeBlanc stepping into the outside corner role — something he had never practiced before for the Eagles.

On Malcolm Jenkins

Schwartz talked a bit about how Jenkins has always tried his best to succeed at whatever scheme or lineup they’ve thrown at him. The DC noted that one of the reasons he likes to coach from the sideline versus up in the box is that he gets a better sense from the guys how things are going on the field and whether or not they need help in certain situations. He said that Jenkins is a great guy in that regard to give him updates and let him know how things are going in real time.

He said it boils down to mutual respect, and Jenkins isn’t a rookie and understands not just his position but the entire defense, which allows Schwartz a greater appreciation for suggestions he may have throughout the course of a game. He noted that having feedback from guys on the field is super important.

On the Saints prep

Schwartz was asked how they plan to stop Drew Brees and their multi-faceted offense — without giving away anything regarding the game plan. The DC noted that you have to tackle well and switch things up, noting that the Saints aren’t a team that you can stick to any one certain thing. He also noted that they are going to have to pick their times to be aggressive or back off a bit.

He also talked about how Brees has seen every kind of defense imaginable and they have good playmakers at all the positions, and there’s picking and choosing times and sometimes they’ll have to play zone and sometimes they’ll have to play man. Tackling was his main theme and focus for the matchup.

Schwartz later talked about how when they look back at the tape from November’s loss, there might not be a ton that they did right, but there are certainly parts that they can draw some confidence from and build off of. He said the film also shows them how one play can really turn the tide and provide them with urgency.

He was asked if they had thought back in November that they’d be in this situation and get a chance for a rematch, and he said it wasn’t exactly the furthest thing from his mind but in those moments they’re typically more focused on the next game and trying to bounce back.

Schwartz was sure to give credit to players after that loss and said it’s easy in this business to feed into the negativity, but the players got even more determined and stayed positive and were able to make it back there.

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