We’re just two days away from the return of Eagles football. A clash on the road against a divisional rival is always a fun way to start the season. The Eagles may have beaten the Redskins 6 times in a row dating back to 2017, but last season saw the emergence of a new problem in the way of Terry McLaurin. The question now is simply whether or not Darius Slay is the antidote.
A memory Eagles fans would rather forget
Across two games against the Eagles last year, a then-rookie Terry McLaurin combined for 255 yards, 10 catches, and a pair of touchdowns. Admittedly, this was against Ronald Darby (who DeSean Jackson likely faces on Sunday), but McLaurin’s explosive first season in the NFL didn’t begin and end with the Eagles.
Darius Slay also lined up against the former Ohio State wide receiver when the Lions travelled to the Capital for a clash in November. While the damage was halved, McLaurin still gave the veteran a run for his money.
A clash of titans
Against Washington, Slay strictly shadowed McLaurin, unlike the Dallas matchup where he split time between Cooper and Gallup. Of his 919 yards as a rookie, 71 of them came against Slay, who broke up 3 passes and allowed 4 completions on the day. But when looking back at the film, it could’ve, and probably should’ve, been a very different day at the office.
|1||INC||Corner||McLaurin||0 (but burned)|
|3||INC||Slant||McLaurin||0 (Should be TD)|
|9||Inc||Rub vert||McLaurin||0 (should be TD)|
Interestingly, Slay did come out and say that McLaurin was the second-most challenging receiver he covered in 2019 (behind Keenan Allen, who put up 98 yards), but he’ll now be facing McLaurin twice a year. How much weight can we put into this game? According to Jim Schwartz, not a whole lot.
“I really didn’t spend a lot of time on that because Detroit plays a different scheme than we play, and we’re going to employ Slay a little bit different and stuff like that.” The man who drafted Slay to the Lions said earlier this week.
“There is some carryover to our games last year and then also individual matchups, but we’re in a new year this year. We’re going to be ready for however they deploy their guys, and I’m excited about all our guys. I think we have some good matchups in this game. “
Can Darius Slay save the day?
Perhaps Schwartz is correct, but we’ve already learned that Slay will be shadowing WR1’s this year, which is beyond important for a secondary who surrendered a 100+ yard game to a wideout in each of their first seven games last year. Whether the world was asleep on ‘Scary Terry’ last year, Darius Slay saw his play dip due to a lingering hamstring injury and a lot of discontent within the locker room, or none of this really matters at all, this matchup will be a fascinating one to watch.
Slay’s first assignment as an Eagles cornerback is to stop one of the league’s brightest second-year talents and a receiver who gave him absolutely everything when they clashed last year. For a fanbase so hungry for their team to return, this Steak will be as juicy as they could possibly ask for. Let’s just hope it’s not burned when it arrives and is exactly as it looks on the menu.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire
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