Eagles’ Darius Slay Comments on Defending NFL’s Best WRs

Darius Slay

Getty Darius Slay during a game against the Browns.

The Eagles made Darius Slay the highest-paid cornerback in football for one reason: to “strap” the NFL’s top targets.

Slay, a three-time Pro Bowl selection in Detroit, embraced that role immediately upon putting ink to paper. After the Eagles sent a third and fifth-round pick to acquire his services, the confident 29-year-old told reporters that he wanted “the game on me.” He elaborated by saying that meant switching between both sides of the field, wherever the opposing team’s best receiver was lined up is where he wanted to be.

“I can get up in a guy’s face for the whole game,” Slay said, via NFL.com. “I can switch up my technique from off to press. I’m comfortable in anything I’m doing. I compete every play. I’m not scared.”

On Friday, Slay doubled down on his humble boast. When a chart showing all the elite receivers on the Eagles’ schedule was presented to him, the new shutdown corner replied that he was “ready to compete.”

Whatever your opinion on the easiness of Philadelphia’s 2020 slate, you have to admit there are some big-name wideouts on it. The Eagles will see seven Pro Bowl receivers this season, including cream-of-the-crop guys: DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas and Devante Adams. Those four players alone have combined for 13 Pro Bowls and 178 touchdowns. Slay better get strapped.

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Slay Versus Best Receivers in NFC East

The NFC East owns a solid stable of receivers, ones tasked with speeding by Slay. He’s fared pretty well in limited matchups, too. Slay has surrendered zero touchdowns in nine combined games against the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys.

But, did the top targets on those teams produce? Well, the proof is in the pudding.

Sterling Shepard was out when the Lions and Giants met in 2019 but rookie standout Darius Slayton did finish with 50 yards and two touchdowns. He held Redskins standout Terry McLaurin to five grabs on 12 targets (72 yards) in Week 12. Against Dallas, Slay rose to the occasion by limiting Amari Cooper to three catches on eight targets (38 yards). He watched over the Cowboys stud like a hawk.

“I watched him over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over and kind of got a handle on what he liked to do,” Slay said, via The Inquirer. “Just erase away what he did best and compete on every play.”

Eagles Revamped Secondary Flying Under the Radar

While the Eagles are banking on Slay to be their meal ticket in 2020, the rest of the revamped secondary shouldn’t be discounted. The team addressed a severe position of need by signing a bunch of incredibly useful spare parts in free agency.

Philadelphia brought in veteran safety Will Parks, a hybrid playmaker and Philly native, who could push assumed starter Jalen Mills for playing time. Parks played on 75-percent of the defensive snaps over the final five games last season in Denver. He was extremely effective and saw a lot of time at nickel cornerback, too.

The Eagles also signed “slot god” Nickell Robey-Coleman who has arguably been one of the very best slot corners in the entire league. He limited receivers to eight yards per reception on 58 targets in 2019 while grading out at 83.9 in pass coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He’ll be fighting for snaps with Cre’Von LeBlanc.

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