Darius Slay is off to a strong start to the 2022 NFL season, playing at an All-Pro level through three games as the Philadelphia Eagles are 3-0 and the only undefeated team in the league. Being the last unbeaten team has its merits, even as Philadelphia put the league on notice with a dominant victory over the Minnesota Vikings on "Monday Night Football" in Week 2.
Slay was the star of a dominant defensive effort in that convincing victory. Targeted eight times as the primary defender in coverage, Slay allowed just two catches for 19 yards and finished with two crucial red zone interceptions off Kirk Cousins in the win. Cousins had a 0.0 passer rating targeting Slay.
Justin Jefferson was held to just six catches for 48 yards on the night, only had one catch when Slay was covering him. In fact, both of the red zone interceptions by Cousins was a result of Slay covering the star wideout.
On the "All Things Covered" podcast with Bryant McFadden and Patrick Peterson (who plays for the Vikings) this week, Slay told the cornerback duo how he was able to shut down Jefferson -- something NFL defensive backs haven't been able to do since Jefferson entered the league.
"When you're a young and talented guy, man, you think everything works. I've played this game so long -- I know what you're gonna do. I know your tendencies, I know what you like the most," Slay said. "He had a lot of tales for me to steal on film. Young guys don't see, but I see that because I like to watch film a lot. Every tale I did was truthful.
"The first pass breakup I had, it made me confirm that's what he does. That early? It's gonna be a long night for anybody. No matter what type of talent you have or how much better you feel like you are than me, that means I really got your tale on what you do.
"What I watched on film and what I watch how his release is ... that's why I made the plays I did."
Jefferson had just one catch for six yards when Slay was his primary defender in coverage, this after a game which the Vikings receiver had nine catches for 184 yards in Week 1. Slay's passion for film study showcased how he was able to beat Jefferson.
"I can't give them all out," Slay said. "I'm a guy that just needs to determine whether a guy does an outside release or inside release. From what I watched from Jefferson, he had certain releases that he liked to do. I just knew for a fact that most likely a lot of his routes were inside breaking routes -- just because the team does inside breaking routes.
"If you watch the Rams, they do a lot of inside breaking routes. When he takes an inside release, there's a good chance he's going to do an inside route. I just knew that off the splits, so I kind of got a little ahead of the game.
"He's smooth and a talented dude. But when I know you, it's kind of over with."
Slay is certainly tested in practice every week by the likes of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Quez Watkins. Brown and Smith are off to a strong start to the season, combining for 35 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns through three games.
All Slay wants to do his help the talented duo get better. The Eagles have something special with their pass-catching tandem.
"I really just want the best for them," Slay said. "They're all talented guys. They all can get it done at a high level. The sky's the limit for them. I honestly want them to be the best trio in the world. What they do is what they do. Whatever God blessed them with the position they can put them into to execute their plays, but I told them each and every day -- you're gonna get my best in order to be the best.
"Without us getting better together, how far can we get? I try to push them boys as much as I can because I believe this group is real talented. This is one of the most talented receiver groups I've played with. In Detroit, we had Calvin [Johnson] and GT [Golden Tate]. Now, we have A.J. [Brown], Smitty [Smith], just top to bottom. Great tight ends, that whole core is just so fit together, man.
"All I can do is try to help them boys get better. They got so much upside. I ain't trying to lie, I don't know how long I'm gonna be playing."