Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB William Gay

By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: William Gay

Position: Cornerback

Experience: 7 Years

Most fans, it seemed, were glad to see William Gay leave in free agency after the 2011 season, and not many welcomed him back to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 after spending one season with the Arizona Cardinals.

But try to re-envision the 2013 without Gay, who was called upon to take over the starting cornerback spot from Cortez Allen while the latter worked out the kinks in his game—and his body—as the nickel back.

Gay played in every game—in fact, he’s never missed a game in his seven-year career—making 11 starts and playing nearly 1000 snaps, grading positively by Pro Football Focus in every category of his game.

While he’s prone to miss a tackle every now and then (which is frankly common in the secondary), he finished the year with less missed tackles than anybody else in the starting defensive back field.

He had a particularly strong game playing the run, most notably against the Buffalo Bills, during which he made 11 tackles, nine solo, mostly in the run game. He also had the second-highest run-stop percentage among cornerbacks last year, behind only Tracy Porter. But that wasn’t the only area in which he played well.

Outside of the disastrous game against the New England Patriots, which was the season low-point for nearly the entire roster, Gay’s coverage overall was quite solid, allowing under 60 percent of the passes in his target area to be completed. He gave up 52 total receptions for under 500 yards, third-least among cornerbacks who played at least 75 of the team. The longest pass he allowed went for 31 yards, and his quarterback rating allowed when targeted was just 72.9.

His .91 yards allowed per snap in coverage was top 10 in the league. He also allowed just one touchdown during the year as the primary defender, and he made up for that with an interception returned 21 yards for a touchdown. He also caused two fumbles, one of which came off a cornerback blitz for a sack, which was recovered and returned by Will Allen.

What Gay may lack physically in terms of size, speed, and strength, he generally makes up for mentally. Having him on the field allows for a more diverse and exotic defense, because he has the ability to cover other players’ assignments. While he may be best suited for the slot, he has shown once again that he can be relied upon to step in when others fail.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – FB Will Johnson
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Brett Keisel
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – NT Steve McLendon
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Cameron Heyward
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB LaMarr Woodley
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB Jason Worilds
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Lawrence Timmons
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB Ike Taylor

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • ATL96STEELER

    Gay 2.0 was a pleasant and welcome surprise. He’s never been a guy out of place a lot, but could never locate and make a play on the ball…he’s doing that much better now.

    Good he was signed to a 3 yr deal. He will likely be the outside CB opposite Allen if something can’t be worked out with Taylor. I think it’s safe to think Colbert will target a CB that should compete with Blake, etc. for the slot this year and take over the outside spot in ’15, and maybe move Gay inside if he’s still viable.

  • steeltown

    Thank the stars for WillieG, missed assignments or tackles that have happened in the past seem to always be fresh on everyones mind, but he was usually a solid contributor. He had a good season the year before he left Pittsburgh and now another solid season after returning. He has the game and defense down mentally and for the most part he is a sound tackler. Glad we have him.

  • Steve

    William had a good year and this article shows he was better than we thought. It is good he was brought back and signed for 3 years. His knowledge of our Defence and he was able to step right in and take over when Cortez was hurt.. Willie gave us flexability in the secondary in our sub packages.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Thank God he is so much better now. What a great gamble bringing him back. His first go round, he was a little too cocky, and remember I used to call him Will “Get down and get burned” Gay. Every time the ball was thrown his way, it gave us all a heart attack. Lots of big plays and touchdowns given up.

    For the Cards it did not work out great, otherwise they would not have let him go so easily, so the Steelers gambled and won big time. Kudos to him for playing much much better within the rules of the new NFL. We need guys like him to step up along with the studs playing up to expectations.

    I admit I was terrified at the beginning, but have been pleasantly surprised. Sometimes these inexpensive signings are the ones that can make a big difference to a team. Good work by the FO and thanks for not listening to us on that one.

  • steeltown

    I have to disagree somewhat, he struggled early on in his career but I think he just hit his stride a few yrs back, the year before he left he played very well for us and then with ARI he played well forcing 5 turnovers, I believe he was released by ARI because he was due $3.5million after triggering an escalator in his contract and they needed to clear cap and now again he had another solid season in Pittsburgh. I definitely remember the bad stuff, when he got burned on some TDs and got caught out of position quite a bit, but in the last 3-4yrs he’s been a good player.

  • joed32

    He had a pretty good year in 2011 before he went to Arizona. 2009 and 2010 were his bad years.

  • alex

    the Gays of the world make the world work…

    not everybody is going to be a top 10% performer in any job field, but there must be those people that show up everyday and perform at a ‘good’ level to make up for those less than average peeps…the William Gays of the NFL will make the NFL work like the epic sport it is…

    ive said this before, W Gay was and is a great value signing!

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    He had a nice season before he went to Arizona and a even better on this year. I’ve always been a critic bit you have to give the Guy credit where its due..he has his most problems in space..but that’s where #43 and #25 are supposed to help.