By: Liam Jenkins | Philly Sports Network
He’d been around the team a while, but in a fateful game where the Eagles needed a surge, Cre’Von LeBlanc stood out from the crowd. His hunger, intensity, and energy galvanized a defense in a must-win game where LeBlanc rallied to 8 tackles. Oddly enough, I’m not talking about LeBlanc’s dominant showing against the Giants…
If we rewind to this time one year ago, the rise of an underdog in the secondary helped spur an unlikely playoff run. LeBlanc started in the slot against the Rams after taming Odell Beckham, and after another strong showing, solidified a place in the rotation of a struggling secondary.
With a new year came new ambitions. The Eagles reached the playoffs and after a solid outing against his former team, LeBlanc rapidly grew into a fan-favorite. The Captain of the ship then pulled off one of the most memorable plays of 2019, intercepting Drew Brees on the very opening play of the team’s playoff clash with the New Orleans Saints.
In the space of a month, LeBlanc went from a corner buried on the depth chart who was signed for depth purposes mid-season, to an Eagles hero.
LeBlanc finished the season with PFF grade of 72.3 and 32nd among cornerbacks. But a Lisfranc injury would rip the former Chicago Bear of a shot at earning a starting role, as well as half of his second season in midnight green. The-then 24-year-old was sent to IR, but notably given a contract extension, rewarding his stunning efforts from one season ago.
Watching from the sideline as the rise, fall, and resurrection of Sidney Jones took place. Itching to get on the field as Avonte Maddox seemingly regressed, and rehabbing while the pass defense continued to struggle, all LeBlanc could do was watch and wait.
Fast-forward to the end of the year and we’re getting a sense of Dejá vu. LeBlanc returns to action just as Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills sustain injuries and was forced into extensive action for the first time in week 17 – a must-win game for the Birds if they were to earn a playoff berth.
4th and 4. Daniel Jones drops back to pass and it’s broken up by none other than Cre’Von LeBlanc. On a similarly important play later on, Saquon Barkley took a handoff to the sideline, only to be clattered by a courageous Cre’Von. Add a further 2 pass breakups and 7 tackles and you have another breakout where LeBlanc has been the catalyst in energizing a defense that needed a spark.
‘Strap’ may not be the most talented corner in the NFL, but the sheer aggression he brings to the table each-and-every snap is visible and for the second year in a row, where injuries have decimated the secondary, it’s been the FAU product who has been the glue keeping it all together, providing big-time plays in big-time moments.
LeBlanc started 2019 as a hero that exploded onto the radar out of seemingly nowhere when the bat signals were about to be turned off. He ends it in the exact same way.