The Detroit Lions Week 5 matchup against the Green Bay Packers included every unexpected variable you could think of. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t himself in the first half. Long-time kicker Mason Crosby forgot how to kick a field goal. The Lions front seven was actually good. One outlier that seemed to slip by everyone was the poor play of cornerback Darius Slay.
The 2017 first-team All Pro stood out last season with dazzling performances against the likes of Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. His slate of competitors had been relatively tame this season compared to last as the Jets, 49ers, Patriots and Cowboys all do not have a true “WR1”. Green Bay came to town Sunday, and while receiver Davante Adams is not on the level of Jones and Bell, he is a huge step up in competition to what Slay faced earlier this season.
Adams finished the day with nine receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. A lot of those receptions came against the Lions’ best corner.
Similar to the Lions game against the New England Patriots, it was clear that Detroit wanted to make sure they were not beaten deep. Slay played a lot of off coverage throughout the day. He also played outside leverage for the most part. The Packers knew how to take advantage.
On this play, Slay is lined up across Adams to the left side of the formation. Adams runs a crossing route and Slay is screened by another Packers receiver shooting out towards the sideline out of the slot. Adams would have had a wide open touchdown if Rodgers threw the ball to him but another Lions defender was beaten as well and Rodgers chose to pick on him.
The Packers took advantage of Slay’s positioning all day with screens. On this play, Adams motions inside before the snap to force Slay to give him inside leverage. The receiver runs a crossing route once again. This time Slay is blocked from the play by a quick out-route from the tight end.
Slay is taken out by the screen and, although he does recover, Adams is able to get 6 yards of separation with ease. The ball ends up going to the tight end but had Rodgers thrown it to Adams quickly, he had all kinds of space to run after the catch.
While the Packers did manage to scheme Adams open there were many plays where Slay was just straight up beaten.
Slay gives inside leverage up pre-snap on this play as well. Adams runs a quick post corner route. The corner is on his outside shoulder and once he breaks inside Rodgers has a clear throw. The receiver makes the catch and dolts down the field after the catch.
While Slay is usually an outside corner he lined in the slot against Adams in this game as well. He got beat there too.
The corner, just like almost every other play, gave up inside leverage here as well. Adams quickly breaks on his route across the middle of the field into open space. He has a step on Slay the entire way and if his momentum hadn’t carried him out of bounds after the catch he would have had a walk-in touchdown.
While Slay struggled throughout the day, one has to wonder why he didn’t have safety help. The Lions had clearly planned to give Adams free releases to the inside but there was never any help there for him. If this was something the Lions had planned pregame, then they also should have planned to help Slay inside.
Whatever the game plan was, this was the first time this season Slay was met with a major challenge and he did not rise to the occasion.