The Philadelphia Eagles stormed to a 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night and while much of the praise falls on the shoulders of Jalen Hurts, Darius Slay deserves a special mention for blanketing arguably the best receiver in the entire league.
Eagles had their eyes set on Justin Jefferson
Justin Jefferson ripped the Green Bay Packers to shreds in week 1, catching 9 passes for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Very few were surprised by this though. The LSU product had back-to-back years of 1,400+ receiving yards to kickstart his NFL career, rocketing him to superstardom.
The Eagles were able to keep Amon-Ra St. Brown in check for the most part and despite some defensive lapses, looked solid on the back end. There were some legitimate concerns as to whether or not the defense could hold its own against Jefferson and company, but we’d soon get our answer.
Darius Slay puts the clamps on
The Vikings struggled to generate any offensive momentum on Monday night in large part thanks to the ball-hawking instincts of Darius Slay. Jefferson was held to 6 catches for 48 yards, but none of those came against the star of the Eagles secondary.
Jefferson was targeted 6 times when lining up against Slay. He caught none of them, while Darius Slay picked off two and broke up 3 more. The nature of Slay’s performance was what really stood out. The DB looked like a vet who had seen it all, jumping routes, undercutting Jefferson, and being more than willing to let him dip into open pockets knowing full well that the space in the endzone is limited and that he can make up the ground by lunging at the catch point.
Darius Slay shut down arguably the biggest threat in the NFL in a way that nobody had done before. No catches, no yards, and the Vikings were left flabbergasted. Nick Sirianni was quick to praise the Eagles corner after the game.
You don’t just go in and put all your eggs in one basket, right? There were different disguises, different coverages, but make no mistake about it, a lot of it was to stop No. 18. He’s a heck of a football player.
But when CB Darius Slay had to cover him one-on-one, obviously did an unbelievable job. When you bring all the guys on Slay’s second interception — really on the one before that, too, right, that could have been an interception — you can’t help and there is no help when you bring all those guys.
You’re in cover zero and Slay got sticky in the coverage and made an interception. So that’s what we see Slay do over and over again. One of the reasons I always think that our receivers are taking steps in the right direction and getting better is because the work they have to do to go against Slay and [CB] James [Bradberry] in practice, and [CB] Avonte [Maddox] and [CB] Zech McPhearson and all those guys.
Not going anywhere
Darius Slay has been exceptional since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. While he took a little time to get rolling and adjust to a new scheme, 2021 proved to be a big bounceback year for the former Detroit Lion. Sprinkle in some James Bradberry and a second year in the same scheme to develop some more confidence and familiarity, and we’re now seeing Slay play like the corner who once had 26 passes defensed in a single season.
Now into his 30’s, there was some talk that Slay could be entering the twilight of hs career. He was quick to dispel that narrative on Monday night.
The older you get, they think you are falling off, but I am not one of those guys. I am still at an elite level. I deserve a lot of respect. I think the league respects me enough. It is just the media.”
Slay put in arguably the performance of his career on Monday night. With two picks and several PBU’s that were inches from turning into even more interceptions against the best wideout that the NFL has to offer, Darius Slay made a firm statement. He can still roll back the years and has plenty of gas in the tank.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire