Round 4 of Darius Slay vs Terry McLaurin promises to be the most explosive yet

NFL: SEP 13 Eagles at Washington Football Team
LANDOVER, MD – SEPTEMBER 13: Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (24) defends a pass intended for Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) during the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Football Team NFL game at FedEx Field on September 13, 2020 in Landover, MD. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles are set to lock horns with the Washington Football Team tomorrow evening and while all the headlines going into the matchup are about the COVID breakout and how the NFL handled it, there’s one matchup that deserves some of that spotlight – Darius Slay vs Terry McLaurin.

Sure, WFT might end up fielding a weak QB and a weakened defense, but there is nothing weak about Terry McLaurin or the man who will likely be tasked with shadowing him, Darius Slay. There were doubts that McLaurin would be out of concussion protocol by Sunday, but lucky for WFT, the game was moved to Tuesday and he should be good to go.

The two have clashed on three occasions so far, with two coming last season during Slay’s first year in Philadelphia. The veteran corner is back to his very best in 2021 and McLaurin is on-pace to break his career-high 1,118 receiving yards. To do this, he needs to average more than 77.5 yards per game. Two of those four remaining matchups will see him locked into a war with Darius Slay. Will it be the three-time pro bowler who has the last laugh?

McLaurin is Washington’s #1 wideout and it’s not close. Even with the QB issues and offensive inconsistencies, he’s still caught 106 passes for 808 yards. It will be Slay’s job to slow him down on Tuesday night, but will past results be indicative of future outcomes? 

Meet the rookie

Back in 2019, his last season with the Lions, Darius Slay was lined up over Terry McLaurin and told to never let him out of his sight. He allowed 71 yards in total, but he only allowed 4 passes while batting away 3 more.

The veteran strikes back

When Slay moved to Philadelphia, it probably didn’t take long for the penny to drop that he’d now have to cover McLaurin twice a year. We didn’t have to wait long to see it, either. The very first matchup of the year sae the two gladiators do battle, with McLaurin being held to 5 catches and 60 yards. Washington came way with the win, but Slay did his part.

In fact, he only allowed one reception for 21 yards when playing in man-coverage situations, which is pretty damn good.

Who takes the lead?

The week 17 matchup that broke the hearts of Giants fans everywhere also brought us episode 3 of this explosive showdown. McLaurin caught seven passes for 41 yards and a touchdown on the day, but Slay wasn’t manned up on him when the touchdown was conceded.

So far, Slay has allowed 134 receiving yards across three games – an average of 44 yards. It’s entirely plausible that Slay prevents McLaurin from bursting past what would be a career-high for the second straight season and with Washington lacking any other viable receiving threats, expect there to be a metric tonne of traffic coming his way.

Only adding spice into the mix is the fact that we haven’t seen Slay vs McLaurin in this new-look Eagles scheme. It has improved over recent weeks and hopefully to a point where Gannon trusts his CB1 to hold his own on an island and take away Washington’s offensive crutch.

With Slay back to his best and McLaurin refusing to stop getting better, this promises to be one of the most exciting WR vs CB matchups of the season from a Philadelphia perspective.

Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire