Ike Taylor Thinks William Gay Is The Boy Wonder Of The Steelers Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay has forever been the whipping boy for fans and Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an excellent piece up Monday afternoon centered around that very topic.

As soon as New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz scored from 57-yards out in the Saturday night preseason opener, I knew my Twitter feed would light up with the usual Gay bashers, and they did not let me down.

Shortly after the game ended, I broke down the play in question and showed that Gay was hung out to dry with Cruz. Since then, safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark have both taken full responsibility for not providing Gay help with Cruz over the top. In Kaboly\’s latest piece, he quotes Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake as saying the same thing.

“There are people counting on other players positioning and support, and if it is not there, you leave them hanging out to dry,” Lake told Kaboly “That\’s what happened.”

Gay won\’t ever make it to the Pro Bowl, but the Steelers could do much worse than him as they transition from older to younger in their secondary. He has been a part of several great defenses over the years and knows the Dick LeBeau scheme inside and out. Yes, he has had his share of moments over the years, but what cornerback not named Darrelle Revis hasn\’t? If Lake believed there was someone better on the roster to play ahead of Gay, that player would be on the field instead.

When Cortez Allen returns to full health, Gay will be relegated to playing only in the nickel sub package, and that is exactly what he was brought back to do during the offseason.

Whenever Gay is guilty on a play, I have never had problem pointing it out. On the flip side, however, I will defend him when it\’s not all on him and such was the case Saturday night.

Cornerback Ike Taylor, who is walking quote machine, said it best to Kaboly when trying to explain why Gay is so hated by a good portion of Steelers fans.

“If Robin does something good, Batman is always going to get the credit,” Taylor told Kaboly. “Nobody ever talks about Robin, and that\’s why Robin crossed over to the dark side.”

I like to just chalk it up to a good portion of Steelers fans not understanding the game of football, because that\’s what it really boils down to. If that statement offends you, it was meant to.

Look, Gay is not a cornerback without flaws, but he also doesn\’t deserve half of the hate and criticism that he receives from fans. Try watching the game replay sometime, because it won\’t lie to you the way your buddy sitting next to you in the bar or the thousands of Twitter users will.

Bang! Pow! Zoom!

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Matt Searls

    wait robin went to the dark side?

  • falconsaftey43

    Gay is a more than serviceable 3rd CB. He has experience and knows the system well and is capable of making big plays, he has had at least a couple redzone picks that sealed the deal in the 4th quarter. The Steelers could definitely do worse.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Jason Todd, the second Robin, is killed by the Joker. After he is resurrected, he becomes The Red Hood, and turns sort of bad.

  • SteelersDepot

    Yes, I think Robin did that right after the Clone Wars. I think.

  • AndyR34

    Thank you, Dave Bryan! While William is not Pro-Bowl material he is more than an adequate CB…witness the amount that AZ was willing to sign him for a year ago and the fact that he started for Horton on that defense. The fact that he was cut was solely due to a new regime in AZ and they did not want to pay the performance bonuses that he would have earned. The arrogance of the haters who bash him constantly drives me to drink (ing tea!) ha ha! They think they know more about his ability, his assignments and his performance than his coaches or the FO. He is what he is…a middle-of-the-road CB in the NFL who plays best in the nickel sub package as you pointed out.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    fans see what they see and gay was beat with in 3 yards of the L. O. S, he was in chase trying to catch up and then fell on his face, troy and clark better start using PED’S if they are expected to cover up for Gay’s lack of talent.

  • Pete

    I don’t think it’s a matter of fans not knowing football. Of course nobody knows what play was called. Only the coaches and the players know. That goes for almost every position on every play. Defensive backs rightly or wrongly get the glory when they intercept and break up passes and criticism when it appears that they failed.

    With Gay, a lot of it is first impressions. His defining year was the year he took over McFadden’s spot when McFadden left for Arizona. Even the coaches felt that ended in failure and that has stuck with Gay ever since with Steeler fans. He redeemed himself and permanently took McFadden’s spot but Gay is not a cover corner and never will be. It’s not his fault he was put out on the island. He’s not going to thrive in that position which is why he needs help over the top. The fans simply vent their frustration when he’s put in that position and something goes terribly wrong.

  • Jason Brant

    “If that statement offends you, it was meant to.”

    Hah! Now that was a great line.

  • Bell Cow

    I do agree that Gay is a servicable 3rd CB, but he is certainly a down grade from last years #3 which was Cortez Allen. Gay may be a liability against a team like New England because we need to play press coverage in order to be successfully and I’m not sure Gay is capable of doing that.

  • blackngldblood

    watch the replay like he said in the article. He never put pressure on Cruz, opened up and let him run past him because he had the underneath bracket coverage on the play. Guess who was not there over the top and admitted it. Haters are forever gonna hate……

  • blackngldblood

    One of the plus sides of Gay is his physicality. You’re telling me he doesn’t know how to be physical off the line? Hogwash….

  • charles

    The problem with Gay is two fold. He has trouble turning and finding the ball when the reciever gives him the cue. And on the play in question Cruz literally runs right by him, so he has lost a step or two but more importantly he is built too slightly to check the reciever to disrupt their timing. Any qb can put him on an island. That is what the Giants did and Manning knew exactly where he was going with the pass before the ball was snapped. Ike slipping caused Troy to react toward him and Manning did not have toeven be accurate. In fact Manning underthrew Cruz and Cruz had to slow down and reach back for the ball. And of course Gay had no idea where the ball was.

  • sgtrobo

    if Troy is on the field, he will admit responsibility for the play. He’s done that since the beginning of time it seems

  • mem359

    Sorry, but what are you talking about?

    Dave posted two GIFs for the play, and Cruz did not break stride. Manning threw it to lead Cruz away from Troy, and Cruz took a step to his right as he is catching the ball. He may *look* like he is slowing down from the sideline view, but not from the endzone view.

    That was a pretty decent pass. If the ball was under thrown, Gay would have been in position to get in the way. (Unlike Ike, who was 5 yards behind his man.)

  • walter mason

    Gay was a good signing period… there is no debating it. If we have anyone that steps up and can play better, they will be on the field.

  • Gautama Om

    Not all, but many in Steelers fan base like to mouth off when something don’t go right without investigating it or thinking about the circumstance surrounding of any situation.

    I agree with Dave and so do the FO when they ONLY gave him a $1.5mil/yr deal that included only a 500k bonus. Obviously that’s not starting DB pay…or rather not so obvious.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    So let me get this straight Jarvis Jones is Batman, William Gay is Robin and they turned Pittsburgh into Gotham a little bit ago… next thing you know Dick Lebeau will be using the bat signal to communicate with the defense…

  • sean mcmartin

    Glad I’m not the only one who sees the downgrade in the secondary. I have watched enough games with turnstile gay to feel disapointment when they resigned him

  • Kevin Gobleck

    He really is the same guy still so it’s sorta like going to nightwing then changing his mind

  • sgtrobo

    yes, nothing like a little self-righteous smug arrogance. Everybody and their mother knows Gay gets his ass whipped in the media and by the fans, so the stick up for their buddy. Gay was beat immediately off the line. It’s only “trail technique” when you’re in the guy’s hip pocket, not 3 yards behind him, back to the ball, desperately trying to catch up.

    Gay.
    Got.
    Burned.

    Troy can’t be everywhere at once to protect the Steelers’ little mascot.

  • sean mcmartin

    Not sure about Boy wonder..Arron Rogers was the only one wondering where Gay was in the SB when Jordy nelson torched him repeatedly. Lewis was an upgrade and they let gay walk..now what.

  • johnhoien

    It’s clear that Troy & Clark were the cover 2 safties.. They were responsible for the deep threat … @ least one of them could have stayed deep.. We would have stopped that score altogether

  • Robert Schultz

    I believe most haters are really homophobes who simply hate Gay’s last name !

  • Jason Brant

    Speaking of self-righteous smug arrogance….

    Perhaps some people are getting a little too worked up over a preseason touchdown.

  • westernsteel

    Gay was beat on the play….then the safeties were beat. I’ve always liked Ike, but he was beat twice… but these guys aren’t rookies.

  • Amuzon12

    I agree. He has been a solid player who understands how the game is played.

  • steeltown

    I said this also.. he had NO Safety help over the top

  • steeltown

    Is it a step down from K.Lewis and C.Allen, yes, but Gay was the starter two yrs ago opposite Ike Taylor, the Pass Defense was again stellar that year

  • steeltown

    …No Safety help

  • steeltown

    In the end, Gay was a FA and they didn’t want to fork over the money to retain him when they had the promising youngsters K.Lewis, C.Allen and C.Brown waiting in the wings, now with K.Lewis gone and C.Brown struggling it makes sense to bring back Gay

  • sgtrobo

    ok, go ahead and point out where I demonstrated any type of “self righteousness” or “smug arrogance”.

    People aren’t getting worked up over a preseason touchdown, they’re getting worked up over the SAME thing Gay has demonstrated throughout his career.

    Gay is the media and fan’s whipping boy. He’s the other team’s whipping boy as well. That’s WHY he catches so much hell, because he can’t catch WRs off the LoS.

  • sgtrobo

    no, he doesn’t know how to be physical off the line. Actually he *knows* how, he just isn’t physically capable. He’s small and slow. Smart guy. Take his brain and put it into Anthony Smith’s body and you have yourself an All-Pro. Larry Foote is the same way. Good locker room guys, good leadership. They’re necessary elements on a winning team but they just don’t have the physical ability and that’s why other teams look right at them when they come out of the huddle.

  • sgtrobo

    and if he wasn’t 3 yards behind Cruz and was able to turn to look for the ball, he wouldn’t have needed it.

    Safety HELP is 2nd order. CB coverage is 1st order. If he’s in position to make the play, he doesn’t need safety help. Story of his career here.

  • sgtrobo

    one of them was shading toward the CB who has about 6 NFL snaps, the other is not a deep cover safety and never has been in his career.

    If Troy wasn’t so quick to react, he wouldn’t even be in those pictures and people would stop deciding it was his fault that our CB got beaten.

  • steeltown

    You’re talking about one of the premier pass catchers in the League.. you NEED Safety help on 3rd and long

    Its preseason…. the sky hasn’t fallen yet.

  • JPDQ

    All I know is how many times I can remember jumping up off my couch and
    screaming at the television, “Guess who just got beat for another touchdown? William F***in’ GAY!”

    That’s pretty much the only measuring stick I need to judge a CBs success, in my book.

    I know the guy improved somewhat the last year he was here, and from what I remember, his personal backstory is pretty eye-opening, but count me in the party that was NOT thrilled to see Gay back in the Black n Gold. The re-tread philosophy the last few years w/ this team bothers me.

    Just wait til Willie has to start in Ike or Cortez’s place, cause it’s gonna happen. And it just might happen in Week 1. If I’m an opposing QB or OC, you think I’m not circling William Gay on the game tape in bright red marker with a flashing yellow arrow next to him? He’s obviously the weak link in the secondary, and people will game plan for him. And this place is gonna go bananas when he starts giving up touchdowns again.

  • sgtrobo

    oh, I don’t disagree. But the problem is that if you have a guy in the slot who cannot cover with any reliability, then he will get targeted CONSTANTLY. Exactly like what happened when he was with us the last time.

    It’s not “trail technique” when you’re beaten so badly right off the LoS and you spend the entire time desperately trying to catch up because you know how badly you’ve been burned.

    That might’ve been his assignment, but he got burned, and burned badly. Victor Cruz is not the only good pass receiver in the NFL. This will become a pattern if Gay is on the field more often than “seldom”

  • Bob Graff

    He’s ok if 8-8 is ok everyone knows the Steelers need help at corner. Gay is a warm body. match him up on AJ Green and see what happens. The Steelers have always had a high level of expectations of their players.Gay didn’t fit that role before and it doesn’t look like much has changed. A doughnut tire is serviceable also but not something you want to be riding around on.

  • steeltown

    We had a stellar pass defense in 2011.

    Our Defense is built on three things.. pass rush, stopping the run and not giving up the BIG play and that usually constitutes a Safety providing help over the top, as the last defense

  • steeltown

    Don’t understand your logic.. we went 8-8 the ONE year that Gay WASN’T on the roster. Im not saying that’s the reason why, but lets be realistic here

  • steeltown

    Nice article Bryan. The hate that Gay receives year after year is pretty unfounded.. but it will never cease to exist.. every Team has players that the fans need to take their anger out on… now that Mike Wallace, Mendy, Mundy and Willie Colon are gone, Gays return simply opened the door for that

  • Pete

    I don’t disagree that Gay’s best position isn’t out on the island. Gay was basically brought back to play nickle (until someone else is ready) with Allen outside. Allen and Brown and Van Dyke are injured so they had nobody else to play outside. The Steelers are not going to spend big dollars in free agency for a cover corner. If Gay plays nickle, he can do that well most games.

  • sgtrobo

    we faced a laughable schedule in 2011 of rookie QBs and QBs who were not on NFL rosters in 2012. Whether we had safety help over the top or not, that doesn’t change the fact that Gay got burned. Where is the safety help going to go? Are we just automatically going to assume that wherever Gay is, he will need safety help?

    Yes. We do need to assume that, and if QBs get an inkling that Gay is actually covering somebody, they go after him. We have several years of data to back this up. This isn’t a surprise, and it sure isn’t to opposing teams.

  • cencalsteeler

    Question. If Gay checks Cruz at the line doesn’t that disrupt the timing of the play between Cruz and Eli and allow more time for safety help?

  • sgtrobo

    Gay wouldn’t have set foot on the field but for 1 or 2 games all season long. We missed the playoffs the season after Darnell Stapleton left too.

  • cencalsteeler

    Well stated.

  • sgtrobo

    well, Wallace quit. He admitted as much. Mendenhall was appalled the the US was happy after we killed bin Laden, and aside from 1 season, he didn’t live up to his 1st round billing. Mundy was always terrible, and Colon was a penalty magnet who the FO inexplicably gave multiple extensions to AFTER he came off IR-ending seasons. The reason these people end up as whipping boys is because they DESERVE IT.

  • sgtrobo

    Yes. It does. When a CB lines up directly across from the guy along the LoS that’s what he’s supposed to do, but shhh….we’re too busy making excuses around here and trying to act self-righteous while pointing fingers at “know-nothing” fans who see reality.

  • Pete

    We all know the secondary has been a sore point for fans for many years. The Steelers made efforts to improve it and Gay was part of a decent secondary with Ike and McFadden. Then last year was probably the best secondary we’ve seen since terrible Colclough (2005). The expectations of fans were raised by the play of Lewis and Allen last season. To be fair, Gay is not as good as Lewis or Allen. So seeing Gay brought back while Lewis left rankled probably many fans. They saw it as a step backwards and the pre-season game just appeared to confirm it for them.

    In a perfect world, Gay is a good backup or someone who will get snaps while your blue chip is injured. I think Gay is a better defender than what happened on Saturday but he’s much better matched up against the slot receiver in the nickle than on the outside.

  • PA2AK

    Remember, he’s there to play nickel. He is a solid nickel back. He has also been a contributor in some great defenses. Put him on a team #1 all game…no way, but bringing him in this year was a great move and will pay off.

  • sgtrobo

    Pete. He was matched up on the slot receiver in a nickel package when he got burned.

    Gay is fine when he’s matched up against another backup-caliber guy, or when he has safety help. Problem is, you can’t always dedicate 2 guys to cover whomever Gay’s responsibility is, and if the WR has any type of size or speed, Gay is overmatched. Gay is overmatched against any TEs. Since most slot receivers are fast and TEs are large, Gay is overmatched the majority of the time he’s in the slot, it’s just usually easier to cover for his ineptitude inside than it is on the periphery.

  • PA2AK

    Damn…a step down from the #1 pass D. Still has the potential to be a part of another #1 pass D. Gay should be a non-issue and fans should be thankful that they brought him back this year. He will be a great value as the #3CB. an underrated move this offseason.

  • Pete

    I completely missed the game so I didn’t see the play everyone is talking about. Gay has had moments when he’s been able to cover inside and he won the outside spot opposite Ike the year before he left for Arizona. I agree that he’s not good enough to match up with top receivers unless he has help.

  • PA2AK

    /sarc/ You’re probably right…Coach Lake was probably lying when he said someone blew their over the top assignment. Just covering for his buddy I’m sure. /sarc/

  • PA2AK

    I’m sure they brought Gay back to cover everyone’s #1. He’s the 3rd man up! Get serious.

  • PA2AK

    Plain as day. Gay will be the #3 man. He will rarely be covering the #1 WR and will likely always have a safety over top. He will make some mistakes, but he will produce at his intended position. Great move by the front office. I highly doubt LeBeau and Lake have him out there if we have a better option. I also don’t see them putting him man up on someones clutch WR on 3rd downs during the season. This shouldn’t even be a blip on the radar of things to watch out for this season.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Gay gets a bad rap. We saw last season how valuable good corner depth is with the emergence of players like Allen and J Victorian. Now add in a corner like Gay as your nickel and I think we have a pretty solid group of db’s. Gay is not a starter but he is fully capable of being a pretty good nickel corner. He seems to be the fan favorite on the chopping block for some reason. He makes some good plays when called upon and like any other CB he gives up some plays too that’s the life of a CB in the NFL.

  • charles

    A well thrown ball has Cruz catching the ball basket style over his shoulder. If you look closely, there is the possibility of Gay turning his head to see the ball, which is my point. If he turns his head he may be able to knock the ball down.. I watched it from the endzone view. That view hides the potentiality of Cruz actually being four or five steps behind Gay with Gay being unable to get his hands on the ball even if he had any idea where it was. That was the second point that I made, namely that he has also lost a step.

  • charles

    The safety help went to save Ike who slipped on the play.

  • charles

    That remains to be seen…
    Heres hoping Golden has a great preseason.

  • charles

    You are a dope, albeit a funny dope.

  • charles

    That is truly an ugly thought. The truth is Manning salivated when ha saw Gay. And on the very first possession got him for 6. What commenter on this site can’t see that?!? First possession, first game. We need to throw in a 3rd rounder so some desperate team will take him.

  • charles

    Could also be that Colbert is playing veterans on the bubble to give them a chance to splash or flop.

  • Pete

    I took a look at the replay and you are right. Gay was in the slot nickle position. That is his bread and butter. I don’t know if he was supposed to jam the receiver at the line but he didn’t and Cruz got the better position on him. Hopefully, he’ll learn from it. It also looks like the left WR had badly beaten Ike. That play was going for big yards or a TD one way or another.

  • Pete

    Have to admit Gay looked bad on that play. Kind of makes letting Lewis walk harder to swallow. But as Colbert said, they couldn’t afford Lewis. So they picked up Gay on the cheap.

  • steeltown

    I think he saw the Safeties come up and the center of the field open.. that might have caused him to ‘salivate’

  • steeltown

    This article was written for you

  • steeltown

    You need a hug, relax

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. Gay was brought back to be the #3 and provide depth behind Ike Taylor, C.Allen and hopefully eventually Hawthorne

  • steeltown

    Exactly

  • steeltown

    Indeed

  • Brian Miller

    Nice, I see what you did there…

  • steeltown

    I agree

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Take a closer look, gay got beat at the snap, he turned and ran after Cruz, 20 yards down field just as the pass arrived he fell on his face at the heels of Cruz, if he had underneath coverage why was he chasing Cruz, because everything we are hearing is to take the heat off of a guy that can’t cover. And as far as him being released, if he did such a bang up job in Arizona, why did not Horton sign him for his defense this year, and don’t give me that stuff , he wanted to be a steeler, he left for more money than Colbert would pay and if he had a better offer in 2013 he would have stayed gone. Keep fooling your self in 2013 as you watch him and our rocking chair safety’s cost us big time.

  • PA2AK

    Again, Gay will not be covering anyone’s #1 or #2 until someone else is injured. He’s solid at what he is being paid to do and that is being the #3 CB.

    Funny there is no mention of the 3rd down play prior to this one…the one where Steelers attacked Eli Manning with a corner blitz, and he responded with a pass to Rueben Randle (no Cruz), who escaped Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu to gain 16 yards. That was probably our 3rd string CB’s fault too. I don’t think there is a question on who’s responsible for that assignment.

  • cencalsteeler

    I don’t think any one of us were tickled pink when they resigned William Gay. A lot of us correlate him to some bad plays in his first go around with the team, that’s human nature. With that being said, I see total justification in his resigning. Last year we were depleted back there and we threw Victorian in there pretty much off the street against Dallas. The fo is backstacking our cb depth and Gay is the result. He can play multiple positions and is in their back pocket if injuries do occur. Is he Revis or Sherman caliber, no. But, he is serviceable and I think we shouldn’t feed him to the wolves so early in this young season. * I would like to also add that it was very admirable for Ike to come to bat for Gay. A leader who backs his teammates, something our locker room was lacking last year.

  • WIINGY

    What happen to Ike with NO safety help against D. Thomas @ Denver? Same thing. Torched. The offense gets paid big $$$$ to make plays. Only a few CB can be put on an island.

  • Zach Clary

    Ain’t that the truth. People are reading way too deeply into a single preseason play. Clark even admitted that both him and Polamalu for that matter were out of position on the play and they allowed Cruz to take the top off the defense. William Gay is not Derrelle Revis, or Champ Bailey. He’s a serviceable 3rd guy that can step up and play adequately when the #1 and #2 guys get hurt.

    Bunch of armchair general managers on here that think they know more about the play than the guys who were involved in it. Get over it. William Gay is here, he’s our 3rd CB Nickel guy and he played pretty damned well for us when he was last with the Steelers. Save criticism for when a mistake is entirely his fault, and for when the games that matter start. This is the PRESEASON, it’s the PRE-season because it’s the time with which the players, coaches, etc.. can work the kinks out of the system.

  • steeltown

    True. Ike was consistently taking the outside lane in that game so as to not get beat on the outside and the Safeties were supposed to cover the inside middle of the field, problem is with Tebow behind Center the Safeties were looking for the run too often IMO getting out of position

  • Mark Davis

    Watching Gay get worked off the LOS is something we have been forced to get used to and serviceable doesn’t make you the right guy for the job, this is the NFL!!! We all know Gay couldn’t cover a tip at Denny’s if he had to he’s garbage!! Goes to AZ and pulls down 8 INTS we never seen that in all his combined years in PITT, lol!!! Stop foolin yourselves