Pittsburgh Steelers William Gay A “Secret Superstar” for 2014?


Nov 3, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) tackles New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no need to adjust your screen contrast or rub your eyes.  Yes, you read the title correctly.  Pittsburgh Steelers William Gay A Secret Superstar.  At least that’s according to Pro Football Focus.

I usually appreciate the time and efforts PFF puts into all their stat gathering and assessments, albeit a little confusing at times with the conclusive results they get.  On Wednesday, the site continued its series of “Secret Superstar 2014” when they announced their choice for the Steelers – CB William Gay.  The author, Sam Monson, goes into great length giving the back story of Gay’s early struggles stating the obvious of 2009 when Gay failed to intercept a single pass that season and had a terrible coverage rating.

The epic feel good tale continues with tidbits of Gay’s mediocre play over the next several seasons; the trek through Pittsburgh then Arizona and then back to Pittsburgh until we get to 2013 season – Gay’s “breakout” year.  Gay was, according to the number crunching over at PFF, the best corner on the Steelers secondary with a rating of +11.1.  PFF and Monson are most impressed in Gay’s ability to run blitz, and that only one other corner rated better than him in run stopping.  Oh, and there’s a little GIF included that shows his ability to blitz a poor run outside run blocking Cincinnati Bengals offense that resulted in a tackle for a loss.

I have to throw a flag on this whole entire article except for the parts where it discusses Gay’s mediocre portions of his career.  Gay may have been the best rated corner for the Steelers but the majority of his time was spent in the nickel until Cortez Allen had some ankle troubles (and struggled with his own performance).  Gay struggled outside the hashes and up the field covering some better receivers that were faster and more agile.  Anyone other than a slot receiver, and Gay just couldn’t keep up.

There are good things about Gay – he’s a good run blitzer and has a good eye for the ball carrier.  That’s where he is best utilized which says something awfully negative about his ability to cover.  He’s an ‘ok’ tackler.  But, he lacks the ability for playmaking in the secondary.  He only had one interception all season making that six total in an eight year career.

THIS is who PFF should have looked at for 2014 . Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That’s right.  Eight.  Years.  What’s so secret about a guy who is in his 9th season?  Gay’s topped out his skills and has no more room for growth and improvement.  Monson may have a ‘thing’ for corners that can support the run defense, but that does not make Gay a “superstar” by any stretch of the imagination.  The rating may show a +11.1, but that’s a skewed number in my opinion.  And skewed stats a superstar does not one make.

Would have loved to have seen PFF look at someone like Cam Heyward.  Now there’s a guy who turned it on in the second half of the season – almost as if he finally understood his position – and has a rather high ceiling to achieve over the next few seasons.  Even Shmarko Thomas has better potential at beign a “Secret Superstar” for the 2014 season than Gay does.

Sorry, PFF.  Yinz missed this one by a mile.