Schwartz & Slay need to learn a valuable lesson ahead of final five games

NFL: NOV 30 Seahawks at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 30: Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver DK Metcalf (14) jumps over Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback Darius Slay (24) in the endzone in the second half during the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles on November 30, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

There weren’t many positives at all to take from the Eagles’ embarrassing defeat to the Seahawks, but one was arguably how much the defense withstood. Goal-line stands and crucial plays that shifted momentum back into Pederson’s hands ensured the Eagles at least had a fighting chance – it was just one they ultimately squandered. However, they weren’t perfect…and more specifically, Darius Slay struggled.

As the NFL is rapidly finding out, silencing D.K Metcalf isn’t exactly easy. The 22-year-old wideout set the tone with a 900-yard rookie campaign. He already has 1,039 yards this year in just 11 games and now leads the league in receiving. Five of those games have seen him record 100+ yards. At 6’4, he’s an absolute behemoth to defend, is as physical as they come, and moves like a running back.

Darius Slay found this out first-hand on Sunday, allowing 177 total yards on 10 receptions. It was an ugly day at the office, the first of the season for Slay, who has otherwise been one of the few bright points on the entire team. But that doesn’t mean it should be swept under the rug.

The Eagles are still in the NFC East title hunt and still have to face Devante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper, and Terry McLaurin. Ah.

The former Lions CB has held his own against two of those receivers already, but three rank inside the top 5 in receiving, and they all combine for 4,725 yards worth of receiving.

As the Eagles stray further from stability, there’s no guarantee that an individual effort would be enough. Anything less than his best and the secondary is in trouble.

Slay told reporters yesterday that he didn’t need help, nor did he want it. That may be the case, but if Jim Schwartz chooses to let Slay occupy an Island in each remaining matchup without making an authoritative decision if he struggles, it could well be the defense’s undoing.

Schwartz mentioned Slay’s mentality on Wendesday, discussing how important it was to have a player who wants that responsibility.

“Every game plan’s a little bit different, but it is comforting for a defensive coordinator to know that he has a guy that’s willing to go out there and take those matchups and put himself out there. 

It’s part of it, goes along with that business, is you’re out there one-on-one. You’re on that island. And I’ve always told guys in the NFL playing coverage is a lot like guarding in the NBA, and my analogies have gone, like old but it used to — hey, look, you can play great defense against Michael Jordan and he will still score 20. If you play crappy defense, he’s going to put 45 on the scoreboard. You got to just keep being resilient and know sometimes they’re going to hit a 20-foot turnaround fall away jumper and you just got to hike your socks up and come back for the next play. “

The Eagles may well have a lockdown corner in Darius Slay, who has been nothing but consistent all year long, but if you’re watching a player struggle and doing nothing to change it because he refuses help, that’s a little concerning. Every #1 wideout left on the schedule this season is arguably a top-10 receiver. Schwartz cannot afford to leave Slay out there to take a beating without Safety help or bracket/cone looks if we see a repeat of Monday night. If he continues to turn a blind eye while his #1 CB gets torched, I can’t imagine it boding well for what is already looking like an offseason of substantial changes.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire