Thank Goodness For William Gay

By Matthew Marczi

When the Arizona Cardinals released cornerback William Gay and the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to re-sign him after a one-year vacation in the desert, there was much hand-wringing over the move. After all, Gay is talentless and has no idea what he is doing out there—or so I had heard.

Some have suggested that the Steelers would have been able to retain Keenan Lewis, who started 16 games at cornerback for Pittsburgh last year after starting exactly zero as an outside corner in his first three seasons.

Of course, such an idea is made absurd when taking a quick glance at the team’s current and future salary cap situation and the contract that Lewis signed with the New Orleans Saints, his home town team for whom it appeared he had wanted to play for all along anyway.

Regardless of the Whos and the Hows and the Whys, however, just take a moment to ponder the following hypothetical question: where exactly would the Steelers be right now without William Gay?

Gay will be starting his second straight game at left cornerback tonight in place of the injured Cortez Allen, whose ankle injury also forced him the miss the second half of the season opener. Gay was brought in to be the nickel back because the Steelers were not yet sure if they could trust former third-rounder and Allen draft-mate Curtis Brown with such responsibilities. And Brown showed in the preseason that the caution of bringing Gay back was a move well-served.

With Allen out, and Brown untrustworthy, who would even be the starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor right now? My guess would be backup safety Robert Golden. Golden was a former cornerback in college and played some dime in select situations last season as the injuries piled up. I can’t imagine they would have turned things over to Isaiah Green or Antwon Blake.

But you don’t want to have to turn to your backup safeties in order to replace your starting cornerbacks; if that is not a clear sign of a problem, I don’t know what is. So in that spirit, I say thank goodness for William Gay.

The reality is that through the first two games, Gay has been one of the team’s best players on defense, along with Taylor, Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, and Steve McLendon. In the first game, he registered two pass deflections that put the ball up in the air for a possible interception.

Perhaps most impressive so far, however, has been his play against the run. He has three tackles against the run, thus far, most among cornerbacks on the team in that category, with two of them going for ‘stops’. He has eight tackles overall without a miss, and his quarterback rating against is just 67.

Here’s to hoping he maintains his solid play as a fill-in starter going forward.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Jason White

    I’ve always had an appreciation for William Gay. He takes more heat from the fans than he deserves. He is surprising me with his play as an outside corner this year cause I always view him is an adequate nickel corner and I get a little uneasy when he gets matched up against physical receivers on the outside. But watching Curtis Brown and Josh Victorian have their asses handed to them against the Chargers last year makes you realize you should appreciate what William Gay brings to the defense. This year William Gay’s play is what Coach Tomlin would say “above the line”. Here’s to hoping he holds down the fort until Cortez Allen gets his ankle healthy and with the way William Gay is playing he can take his time and get to 100%.

  • Mike Amaro

    I think I give him such a hard time cause of the way he played in Superbowl XLV they way Jordy Nelson burned him up and down the field all day is hard to forget….but he is a Steeler and I have to hope the best for him.

  • Brantley Stockton

    No. Just…….no.

  • Matt Searls

    We would probably be 0-2 without him

  • Impact3697

    Ya unfortunately, not too many #2 corners in the entire league are going to match up very well against a red hot Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. Gay more often than not, has very good coverage on his receivers, but he struggles to play the ball. Great quarterbacks like Rodgers, Brady can throw their receivers open.. Putting the ball in a spot where only their receiver can make a play on it, regardless of the coverage. Gay is small and not fast, so it makes him an inviting target, even though he’s very solid technique wise. Not a great starter, more of an ideal nickel, but still very underappreciated..

  • bgsteelfan

    The truth too real for you? Everything Marczi said is spot on.

  • charles

    With you on Gay’s play. That probably speaks a little of the value of Carnell Lake.
    I would argue the possibility that the way to learn to ride a bike is to get on. Somewhere we have to try untested players and see if they can ride. Todays salary cap NFL won’t let us keep seasoned veterans at every position. And if not Gay then perhaps we might get a splash from Golden, Blake, or Issaih Green. Coaches have their reasons for whom they play, but right now it is 0 TO, 1 sack. We both know that continuance of this stat increases cellar dweller possibilities…

  • WilliamSekinger

    Well said 🙂

  • scotty

    Yes, thank goodness the FO got lucky after being so dumb they didn’t even offer their best corner a contract. Phew!

  • AndyR34

    Taylor was already under contract fool!

  • sean mcmartin

    yeah thanks for letting the BEARS run over you for a TD

  • Whcr Communicators

    I miss Willie Colon but not at that salary but he is pushing out so many holes in NY as a blocker

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    yeh, like when he was right behind the bear running down the field trying to knock the ball loose instead of making the tackle then falling on his face. cost us big time.