Steelers William Gay: Linchpin of the 2015 Secondary?


As the Steelers work on the retooling the 2015 defense, William Gay emerges as the most veteran member of the secondary, but will he be the most valuable?

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Gay is a nine-year veteran and has been with the Steelers for his entire NFL career except for 2012 when he traveled out to Steelers West (Arizona Cardinals) to try his luck out there. He has played 112 games, not  starting in all of them, giving him the longest playing streak among cornerbacks.

Gay’s endurance is impressive. So was his 2014 season.  He had his second highest year in tackles and he had a career-high three interceptions, which was a rare bright spot for the Steelers in defensive picks.

There is plenty of criticism to go around when it came to the secondary last season, well, actually the last three or four seasons.

Gay understands that and was recently quoted in an AP article by Don Scifo:

"I think that’s pretty much the bottom line, is winning more,” Gay said. “Winning more equals good praises. If you lose, people can find stuff to talk about.”"

Gay is absolutely right. Winning solves a lot. What has changed for Gay this year is that he has gone from being A veteran in the secondary to being THE veteran in the secondary.

Much like Harrison is being looked to as a mentor among the defensive lineman, Gay can help the Steelers by being the mentor on and off the field to the young cornerbacks.

The question is, will Gay step in as a successful mentor, which will make him the linchpin of the defense?  Will he be able to help the younger players on the field by helping them see things on the field to adjust coverage and stop the reception or the run?

That’s really the question for me.  There is no roving Troy Polamalu who was so good at adjusting to the dynamic changes on the field and going after the ball or helping to divert the other players to successfully break up the play.

Can Gay step out of the leadership shadow of Ike and Troy? My impression is that Gay has always been the quiet one and not the one to get in other players’ faces.  Not that Troy or Ike were obvious about it, but they did it when they had to.

I think Gay understands the game well enough to mentor, but I haven’t seen him as more than a role player before. He has to start showing leadership skills now.

Leadership and mentoring will make him a linchpin if he combines that with repeating what he did on the field last year.

Next: Steelers Training Camp Schedule Set

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