After a loss, Jim Schwartz is normally very hesitant to praise any group or individual defensive player. He normally says the defense played as well as the final score indicated.
But on Tuesday, he didn’t say Darius Slay was a 27-17 corner.
Even Schwartz had to give props to his new CB1.
“We put a lot of pressure on him,” Schwartz said. “We were probably about, of our 60 some plays in this game, about 50 plays man-to-man, which is not something we've done in the past. Most of those plays he was on him. Some of the other completions that (Terry) McLaurin got were either zone or a different side or something like that.”
For most of Sunday’s game, Slay traveled with McLaurin and he did a really impressive job. According to ProFootballFocus, with Slay covering him, McLaurin was targeted 3 times and had 2 catches for 28 yards.
Overall, McLaurin had 5 catches for 61 yards, but after how much he torched the Eagles last year, Schwartz will certainly take it.
The only really negative play from Slay is what Schwartz pointed out first. It came right after Carson Wentz’s first interception in the second quarter.
Schwartz is bringing the blitz but also has Slay giving about a 10-yard cushion. He’s not even on the screen on the broadcast version. Dwayne Haskins is going to throw a quick slant to McLaurin, who then breaks through a tackle from Slay and goes for 21 yards, his biggest play of the game.
“We had that one turnover,” Schwartz said. “Right away I blitzed because I didn't want the offense to hold the ball long to try to take a shot at the end zone. The other side of that is you blitz and they throw quick, you got to be able to make the tackle."
Sure, Slay has to make the tackle on that play, but you can also question giving that kind of cushion. I get it, though, because Rodney McLeod was deep and there were trips on the left side of the field.
In any case, Slay showed he still has the kind of cover skills the Eagles thought they were getting when they traded for him this offseason. And give credit to Schwartz, because now that he has an elite corner, he was willing (for the most part) to change his defense to work with it. The Eagles were in man coverage a ton on Sunday.
We can probably expect to see that as the season goes on and the Eagles continue to face top receivers.
Later this season, the Eagles will still see McLaurin again, Amari Cooper x2, DeAndre Hopkins, Tyler Lockett, Michael Thomas, Davonte Adams and more, including Robert Woods this weekend.
“He did some really good things,” Schwartz said.
It’s not super high praise, but the fact that he gave it at all means an awful lot.