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Eagles' Darius Slay has 'great understanding' with Matt Patricia: 'Me and him talked man to man'

The history between Eagles cornerback Darius Slay and new senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia is apparently water under the bridge they hope leads to a Super Bowl.

"Me and him talked man to man," Slay told reporters on Friday. "We've got a great understanding. We both want to win. He's here to help me get better. He wants to get better as a coach, so we're in good hands right now."

The beef the two had dates back to their days in Detroit. Slay was a sixth-year CB coming off his first Pro Bowl when Matt Patricia took over as the Lions' head coach in 2018.

Despite the two butting heads, Slay still put together two more Pro Bowl trips and seemed every bit the team's best cover corner under the defensive-minded coach, but the relationship ran its course when Detroit traded him to Philadelphia in March 2019.

Slay enjoyed far more success comparably once their paths diverged. He returned to the Pro Bowl in 2021 with a league-leading two defensive touchdowns, and was again a Pro Bowl piece of a Philly defense that ranked eighth in scoring and second in yards last year on its way to a Super Bowl berth.

Patricia, meanwhile, lasted one more season in Detroit before returning to New England, where he had made previously his mark as the team's defensive coordinator. He spent 2021 as the Patriots' assistant head coach before calling plays as the offensive line coach and senior advisor in 2022. The experimental role went awry, quieting a Mac Jones-led offense that had looked promising during the quarterback's rookie season a year prior.

The unlikely reunion and mending of fences that has since taken place required a few twists and turns this offseason.

Slay was given permission to seek a trade five days ahead of the March 15 free-agency start date. He was then reportedly set to be released on the morning free agency opened, but instead reached a new three-year deal to shrink his 2023 cap number and extend his stay.

A month later, the Eagles reached out to Slay as they homed in on Patricia as a senior defensive assistant.

"We talked about it during the offseason," Slay recalled. "They called me, and I was like, 'It's cool with me, you know, because I want to do what's best for the organization. I always tell guys, 'We're in a rented seat. Nobody's in this seat forever.' So I said, 'Y'all do what's best for the organization,' and they asked would I be cool with it, and I said yeah."

Now with Slay and Patricia both on the same side again, the storyline moves from making amends to making a run.

Both possess résumés to suggest they can play integral roles in the Eagles defending their NFC crown.

Slay has 26 career interceptions and 133 passes defensed throughout his decade in the NFL. And although Patricia has not found success of late, he never coached a scoring defense ranked outside the top 10 during his six-year tenure as New England's DC from 2012-2017.

Unlike in Detroit, the Eagles have faith their successes will only grow together.

"It took a lot for both of us to talk, so we did a great job," Slay said. "We communicate every day, we talk every day, we're just trying to build everything going forward because at the end of the day we want to win. That's his main goal and that's my main goal, so we'll continue to keep building."

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