Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the fifth time in his illustrious career. He was the definition of lockdown in Week 2. Slay held Vikings All-Pro Justin Jefferson to one reception on six targets, showing off his trademark swagger all evening after striking up a fast friendship with James Harden.
Slay finished the game with two interceptions and five pass breakups. He has now recorded 119 pass breakups since 2013, which is the most in the NFL during that timeframe. Dominant. Elite. Unstoppable. There aren’t enough adjectives.
Slay has put himself in the Hall of Fame conversation, according to Joe Haden. But Slay does it for another reason: interceptions equal big money. Seriously.
“If I see ball, I try to get ball,” Slay told reporters. “I want the rock because the rock gets you a lot of money.”
(Editor’s note: Slay is signed through the 2023 season after inking a 3-year, $50 million extension in 2020. He earns roughly $16.7 million per year, which was seen as a steal at the time and even bigger one now. Philadelphia might want to get the checkbook out again).
Slay, a four-time Pro Bowler in 10 NFL seasons, prides himself on being a student of the game. He has to be known to lock himself in the film room, studying his opponents’ tendencies and tells. It showed on Monday Night Football. He appeared to know Jefferson’s route before the receiver ran it.
“I just execute it, man. Play ball. Play physical,” Slay said. “I just tried to get the job done because I know he’s an explosive guy, one of the best in the game so my object was, ‘hey Slay, you one of the best, too, so limit all the explosive plays and make him earn every play,’ and that’s what I did.”
Don’t Forget About Fellow CB James Bradberry
James Bradberry — Slay’s Pro Bowl partner on the outside — is having a stellar start to the 2022 campaign. The 6-foot-1, 212-pounder had a timely pass breakup on third down against Irv Smith Jr. on Monday, stalking the slot and batting the ball away late in the first quarter.
Bradberry has allowed just four catches on 11 targets for 30 yards through the first two weeks. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s actually rated higher than Slay in QB passer rating allowed at 7.0. And don’t forget about nickel man Avonte Maddox. The cornerbacks’ group in Philly has been tighter than a straightjacket.
“We expect to be a great group because, honestly, we put a lot of work in — in training camp, in the offseason … getting to know each other better, getting to train with each other in the offseason. That’s what we want to be [elite].
“But we got to keep working, though. Because, you know, it could be one game and s*** down the creek and everybody be like ‘oh s***, they not who we thinking.’ So, no, we gonna keep working and keep building.”
Vote of Confidence for D-Coordinator Jonathan Gannon
Slay jumped to coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s defense immediately following the Eagles’ 24-7 victory. He makes the gameplan and calls the plays, but it’s not his job to execute. That’s on the players.
“That first game, that was us,” Slay said. “We didn’t execute well. We didn’t tackle well. It’s not Gannon out there playing.”
After being criticized for a shaky performance in Week 1, Gannon responded with a perfect gameplan against Minnesota. Head coach Nick Sirianni took notice and doled out credit where credit was due. They pitched a second-half shutout in Week 2.
“I think if you’re listening to outside noise and the waves of the season that you will be affected by it,” Sirianni said. “You have to be where you are and that’s where I saw Gannon. Okay, fine, here’s how we are going to clean this up and here’s what we are going to do this week to put our guys in the best position that we think’s possible to help them win the game, and that’s exactly what he did.