Next Gen Stats underline Commanders’ Terry McLaurin’s domination of Darius Slay
By Jerry Trotta
Washington Commanders fans have been busy celebrating the team’s unimaginable win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Double-digit underdogs against the team that dominated them back in Week 3, the Commanders, led by Terry McLaurin, Taylor Heinicke and several defensive standouts, ended Philly’s bid at a perfect season.
The important thing now is preventing a letdown game in Houston, but fans are still wrapping their heads around the win.
Between shutting down the Eagles’ high-octane offense, controlling the game script by running the football and finishing 12-for-21 on third down, you couldn’t have scripted a better outcome for Ron Rivera’s group.
After an efficient performance sans the second half interception, Heinicke was (deservedly) named the starter for Week 11 vs the Texans. While players gravitate towards the underdog quarterback, Heinicke’s ability to get McLaurin involved is arguably the most important intangible he brings in place of Carson Wentz.
McLaurin was busy throughout the game and ultimately turned in his best performance of the season with eight catches for 128 yards. Incredibly, most of that production came against Eagles shutdown cornerback Darius Slay, who’s been in impeccable form this year.
According to Next Gen Stats, McLaurin utterly dominated his matchup agains Slay, whom Eagles fans claim is the NFL’s premier corner.
Commanders star Terry McLaurin owns Eagles cornerback Darius Slay.
McLaurin lined up vs Slay on 19 of his 29 routes, catching five of seven targets for 90 receiving yards. That means 62.5% of his catches and over 70% of his yards came against Slay, whose previous high for yards allowed in a game this season was 58 back in Week 5 against Arizona, per Pro Football Focus.
The stats don’t lie, folks, and these numbers (further) prove McLaurin has Slay’s number. If you remember, Slay said after the 2019 season (McLaurin’s rookie season) that Terry was one of the hardest receivers he’s had to cover.
In two games this season, McLaurin’s gotten the better of Slay. Back in Week 3, McLaurin compiled six catches for 102 yards. These are the only two games the Eagles have allowed a receiver to go for 80 yards or more. McLaurin’s done it twice and he broke the century mark in yards in both fixtures.
A chunk of those yards came on this gorgeous route where McLaurin burned Slay on the release.
McLaurin is as good as they come at the WR position, but Heinicke deserves credit for finding ways to get the star wideout the football. The $70 million receiver’s target rate has nearly doubled with Heinicke running the offense; 30% target share with Heinicke compared to 16% with Wentz.
Barring an unexpected meeting in the playoffs, McLaurin and Slay won’t face each other again until next season. Given how Weeks 3 and 10 went, you can guarantee Slay will be happy not to see No. 17 again until 2023.