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Jim Schwartz expects Russell Wilson to be sharp, and for the Eagles’ defense to be able to beat him

Wilson is 4-0 against the Eagles but played one of his least impressive games against them this season.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks for a receiver against the Eagles in November.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks for a receiver against the Eagles in November.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The last time the Eagles hosted Seattle, Russell Wilson suffered an interception and a fumble, and he overthrew a receiver on what should have been an easy lob for a touchdown.

Wilson lost only one other fumble all season, and threw just four more interceptions. His 31 touchdown passes would seem to indicate he routinely didn’t miss a bunch of easy scoring throws, either.

Wilson and the Seahawks still won, 17-9, on Nov. 24, but they probably flew home thinking the score was misleading. Wilson lamented missing a “layup.” He also suffered a few drops, one in particular that could have been a TD.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked a lot of questions Tuesday about Wilson, who is 4-0 against the Eagles heading into their first postseason matchup, Sunday’s wild-card round playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field. Schwartz walked a fine line, making clear his respect for Seattle’s six-time Pro Bowl quarterback while steering away from any notion that the Eagles can’t stop him.

“You can’t count on a quarterback like that missing that kind of play. We didn’t match up that coverage right, so that’s something you correct,” Schwartz said. "But every game there [are plays that aren’t made.] Some of those that I think people labeled as drops [in the Nov. 24 game] would’ve been really good catches. They’re low-percentage shots down the field. You have to battle and you have to win those. We won our fair share of those [against the Giants Sunday]. I think that had a lot to do with us keeping the score down.

“We’re close on a lot of plays, too. Get a ball on the ground and don’t recover a fumble, ‘Wow, you were close.’ Or you have a guy that’s an inch away from making a sack that the quarterback gets the ball off. That’s just the way this game goes. ... You need to make the plays that are there for you, be resilient. Not every play is going to be perfect."

Wilson saw the Eagles so recently, Schwartz was asked if he would try to do anything different, to give the QB a look he might not be expecting.

“We have a pretty long history. We played out there [in 2016 and 2017, losing both games]. At this point of the season, you sort of are what you are when it comes to a lot of your stuff. ... It just sort of turns into no real surprises,” Schwartz said.

"I’ll take you back a couple weeks. We didn’t do anything different against Dallas than we did the first time; obviously the game was a lot different, but I attribute that more to the spirit the players played with, and fundamentals and execution and teamwork, and all those intangible things that sometimes get overlooked when people talk about chess matches, schemes, and things like that.

“When it’s all said and done, it’s blocking and tackling and execution and that will carry us a lot longer on Sunday than anything new we put in. Every week you have different wrinkles and different things that you set up from the time before, or things that you’re shoring up, or things you’re changing on offense and defense. Everybody does that.

“But I think this is going to be more of a players’ game.”

Cre’Von creating a role again?

For the second straight season, cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc has capably stepped into a starter’s role for an Eagles secondary thinned by injuries.

LeBlanc, 25, started in the slot against the New York Giants on Sunday, after injuries to Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby led to usual nickel starter Avonte Maddox moving outside. LeBlanc, who didn’t get on the field the week before against the Dallas Cowboys, played 80% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and had two pass breakups and eight total tackles in the playoff clincher.

“We’ve always had a lot of confidence in him, and we knew the situation we had,” Schwartz said. “He had to go out and play just about every snap of the game and really came through for us. Really good tackler, tough finishing at the ball. Our ability to win that game had a lot to do with Cre’Von.”

LeBlanc came to the Eagles off waivers from Detroit last season when injuries ravaged the secondary. In last year’s playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, LeBlanc made a diving interception of Drew Brees on the first play of the game.

He suffered a Lisfranc foot sprain during the first day of training camp this summer, and returned to the active roster in late November. When Darby, Mills, and Maddox were healthy, LeBlanc seldom played, unless the team used a defensive back-heavy sub package.

When asked if LeBlanc’s performance gave him a chance at a bigger role against the Seattle Seahawks, Schwartz was noncommital.

“We’ll just see where we get to on Sunday with everyone else,” Schwartz said. “But we certainly have a lot of confidence in him.”