You know the old saying about special teamers, particularly long snappers and holders, that they’re doing their job if you don’t hear their names and, well, if you know their names, then chances are they’ve messed up?
That entire premise has begun to apply to Darius Slay. There’s a reason Slay doesn’t have all the interceptions of other elite corners. They’re often part of well-equipped defenses and have other formidable corners, forcing quarterbacks to throw the way of the elite corners.
Slay hasn’t had that luxury since 2014, when he has had some of his best years. In spite of a nonexistent pass rush the last two years, Slay has absolutely locked it down. With no star corner to line up on the opposite side of the field since Rashean Mathis’ 2014 renaissance, Slay has simply locked it down while opposing quarterbacks pick on weaker corners, defensive ends the Lions drop into coverage, or chunky run-stopping linebackers forced to cover shifty backs.
On Sunday, Jameis Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in back-to-back games. He was having a field day and it seemed like he was simply going up and down the Lions’ defensive roster and taking turns picking on Lions in coverage.
Breshad Perriman beat Oruwariye for 22 yards. Then beat Melvin for 34.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) December 15, 2019
Slay’s name was rarely called, however, and when it was Winston was throwing the ball into extremely tight windows. After a strong start to the season, Rashaan Melvin has fallen down a slippery slope and has lost his starting job the last two weeks to rookie corner Amani Oruwariye, who struggled equally on Sunday.
Slay continues to be on an island, and it’s getting overlooked by the Lions’ endless defensive woes. He has done it all in spite of a nagging hamstring injury that sidelined him in several games, something much easier said than done with all the accelerating and decelerating required at corner.
Props to Slay for continuously balling out. He’s one of the few bright spots remaining on this defense at this point in the year.
Also, we’re not gonna talk about Peyton Barber trucking Slay five yards downfield.