All year, we have been praising Glover Quin and his fantastic play over the 2017 season. Thanks to endless preparation, cat-like reflexes and amazing football instincts, Quin has been able to make plays that only a handful of NFL players can make.
Remember his mind-blowing reaction time that led to his pick-six against Matt Ryan? Or how about that unbelievable tackle for loss on fourth down against the Packers?
Those plays were supreme examples of Glover Quin’s preparedness and superhuman abilities to diagnose a play in real time.
Well, he isn’t the only one making plays like that on the Lions defense anymore. May I introduce you to one Darius Slay.
Play of the Game: Darius Slay picks off Mitchell Trubisky early in the third quarter
On a second-and-8 play, the Chicago Bears are trying to catch the Lions guessing. The Lions keep eight men in the box, just in case of a run, but the Bears hit them with a play-action pass.
The Lions have just one high safety: Quandre Diggs patrolling the middle of the field, but favoring the defense’s right, as the Bears have two receivers split out in this direction.
The receiver in the slot runs a deep 15-yard out, hoping to catch the attention of the safety while allowing the outside receiver to get deep unnoticed.
Conversely, the outside fly route is designed to catch the attention of the outside corner (Slay), in the hopes that it opens up the out route underneath. Here’s the moment of truth:
At this point, Slay could either ride the vertical route or release that to take on the out route in front of him. With Diggs out of position for the deep ball, it would be a little reckless for Slay to play the underneath route, but the key here is Slay’s vision.
He keeps his head towards Trubisky. The rookie quarterback’s eyes aren’t exactly tipping the play, since both receivers are generally in the same area. So Darius Slay simply has to make a choice. He trust his instincts.
Because Slay was mic’d up for the game, we know exactly what was going through his mind at this moment:
“I let that vertical go,” Slay said to his teammates on the bench. “I saw that, I said ‘He wants this out route.’”
Though Slay was helped out by a bad overthrow from Trubisky, he would have been in a good position to hit the receiver had it been an accurate pass.
Thanks to good instincts and proper film study, Slay came up with the interception
And just for fun, let’s check out those toe-tapping skills from Darius.
Early in Slay’s career, we saw how his physical skill set could put him in positions to make plays, but far too often, he was getting outschemed or outsmarted.
That isn’t a problem anymore, and it should come as no surprise who helped bring him along the way.
“As I rookie, man, I was just going out there and playing ball, I wasn’t really too much of a film study guy,” Slay said in Saturday’s postgame press conference. “But GQ (Glover Quin) and Sheen (Rashean Mathis) kind of taught me the fact that if you want to be great, take your game to above another level, that’s with watching film.”
With a league-leading seven interceptions on the year, there’s no doubt that Darius Slay has taken his game to a new level.