Why Rodney McLeod and Jim Schwartz is a match made in heaven

Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams safety Rodney McLeod (23) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In a day of nothing but headlines for the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the more interesting stories to surface was the signing of FS Rodney McLeod. McLeod was given a 5 year deal worth $37M and it may seem questionable on the surface..but this is a match made in heaven.

I wrote an article previously on why the Eagles hadn’t resigned Walter Thurmond, a decision which many didn’t understand due to enjoying a career season in Philadelphia. It came down to physicality. To paraphrase the earlier article (which you can read here)

Under Jim Schwartz in four years as Head Coach of the Lions, only three safeties had OVER 26% of their tackles assisted. If Thurmond were to enjoy a season of over 70 tackles, no Safety during Schwartz’ Lions tenure had OVER 26% of their tackles assisted when they have had over 70 tackles.

Why? Because the attacking 4-3 scheme that Schwartz employs is very aggressive. It’s hard hitting, it’s forceful, it’s in your face. Walter Thurmond is excellent in coverage. He’s good at stripping the ball out and even better at picking it off…but he isn’t a tough tackler.

When you look at McLeod’s history as a starter for the Rams, it becomes clear almost instantly as to why the Eagles would be so confident in his ability.

Of his total 245 career tackles, only 52 were assisted..a mere 21%, highlighting his  physicality. If you compare this to the stats of Lions Safeties during the time Jim Schwartz was Head Coach, the trend is all too obvious.


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With 8 forced fumbles to his name and making hits like this on a regular basis, the decision to partner him up alongside Malcolm Jenkins is too easy to make.


Thurmond is excellent in coverage, but he struggled to make tackles and bring down some of the bigger receivers in the league whereas McLeod is a much more well rounded player.  McLeod was the fourth highest ranked safety in tackling and ninth highest in coverage according to Pro Football Focus.

Another important attribute to be successful under Jim Schwartz is speed. How does the 5″10 McLeod measure up? He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds…in comparison to these two players, that’s not too shabby.

Walter Thurmond- 4.53
Malcolm Jenkins 4.53

Away from the physical attributes, there’s always the financial side of things. Let’s not forget that the Giants have just paid Janoris Jenkins $62M for a five-year deal. Jenkins ranked below McLeod in PFF rankings this year and if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Roseman’s motives this off-season, it’s that he wants cap stability.

For almost half of what the Giants paid Jenkins, the Eagles have a player who is statistically more impressive and is only guaranteed to make $17M…he’s done it again.

It’s also important to remember the contract. At 25 years old, McLeod is still young and possesses plenty of upside, what have the Eagles done with young players who have high upsides?

Zach Ertz- Five year deal
Lane Johnson- Five year deal
Vinny Curry- Four year deal

How long is Mcleod’s new deal? Oh yeah, five years. The Eagles are continuing to build a solid foundation for Doug Pederson to work with and build his franchise around, finding a long term option to stand alongside Malcolm Jenkins who also received a recent extension was a must and the birds may have just found the best option.


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