Eagles Star Darius Slay opens up on his defensive role for 2024 and what made him stay in Philly

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback Darius Slay (2) reacts after making an interception in the fourth quarter during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Darius Slay has never been one to hide behind false bravado or fake swagger. He’s going to tell you how it is. So when the six-time Pro Bowler aired it out with Chris Long on the “Green Light” podcast, you knew he was going to say something of substance … including his first impressions of new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Slay, entering his fifth season with the Eagles, touched on a variety of topics in a wide-ranging interview. Perhaps the most intriguing back and forth was about his role for 2024. The lock-down cornerback has always been up to the challenge of traveling with the opposition’s best receiver, but that could change under Fangio’s Cover 3 scheme. Slay made it sound like there might be some experimentation to start the year as the coaching staff figures out how to best use all their new weapons in a revamped secondary.

“Well, I’m always up to travel,” Slay told Long. “I told him, I even had a talk with him before and I just said, ‘Hey man, whatever you hear, if you want me to do, I’m here to do it.’ If that’s me traveling or me just staying and left or whatever I need to do, I’m willing to do it. So I’m always a team open guy, but if I need to be traveling, I’ll be traveling. But year 12 traveling … That’s why we draft the first rounder for.”

Slay was referring to newcomer Quinyon Mitchell (22nd overall), adding that second-rounder Cooper DeJean can play “every position out there in the secondary.” The 33-year-old team captain was complimentary of everyone lining up next to him including the return of trash-talking safety and nickel cornerback Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

“I can see these guys coming on and stepping on the field quick and fast because the fact that we need it,” Slay said. “We got younger in the secondary. We brought Chauncey back a guy that’s a ball hawk that could go out there and attack the ball.”

Eagles darius slay
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) runs into the end zone for a touchdown as he is pursued by New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) and guard Sidy Sow (62) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Mark Stockwell)

Big Dom the reason for Darius Slay’s Return to Philadelphia

Darius Slay revealed the reason he came back to Philly rather than sign with Baltimore last year had to do with one man and one man only. It was the influence of Dom DiSandro — famed chief security officer, new senior advisor to the general manager — that took him out of the Ravens’ talons and back into the Eagles’ nest despite more money being on the table in Baltimore.

“I was going with my defensive coach, Dennard [Wilson]. He’s now the D-coordinator at Tennessee,” Slay said. “He gave me a call, me and him have a great relationship, so I was like I’m going to go with Dennard but then, talking to Dom, he did a great job keeping me here.”

Slay went on to talk about how weird it was not having DiSandro on the sideline for the final six weeks of the 2023 season following his suspension for “contributing to the escalation” of an argument. Coincidentally, the Eagles went 1-5 without Big Dom on the sideline.

“It’s weird not having him on the sideline because he gets everybody going a little bit,” Slay said. “He’s going to chop it up with you a little bit on the sideline. He’s very much plugged into [everything going on]. He made the sideline so much fun and lit.”

Vic Fangio Bringing ‘Quiet’ Coaching Style, More Detailed Approach

Speaking of new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, there had been rumors coming out of Miami that the veteran players didn’t appreciate his old-school philosophy. They didn’t think he was a “good person.” They couldn’t connect with him. They felt locked up and held back. It’s too early to tell how Eagles players are going to respond to Fangio’s methods but Slay was quick to paint the portrait of a winner, one with a unique and quirky style of doing things.

“He’s quiet,” Slay said. “He more of a guy to go into his office, he’s really more detailed. He’ll tell you from every position what job needs to be done and how you do it and this is how he wants to look and he goes about this day. He looks like the type of coach that [says] if you don’t do what my job needs you to do, I don’t care how much you get paid, I’m benching you.”

It remains to be seen how it’ll play out in the locker room. So far, so good. Fangio’s methods certainly jive with the way the city’s passionate, sometimes obsessive to a fault, fans think and feel.

“Philly ain’t trying to hear no excuses,” Slay said. “I appreciate all the Philly fans because they are amazing … but you say anything wrong, they gonna find a clip, and that clip gonna go viral quick every time. Every time.”

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire