On the Wednesday edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we took a look at some of the quotes from the coordinators and their Tuesday conference call.
The most interesting nugget came from defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo regarding rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr.:
Steve Spagnuolo told me that the #Chiefs’ feeling right now is that Willie Gay can play one of the two OLB positions. He said their “hope” is that he can fill Reggie Ragland’s role.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) May 19, 2020
When it comes to Sneed, Spags said Chiefs love the versatility — outside CB, slot CB, S.
I’m trying to cling onto the first part of that comment from Spagnuolo — that both outside spots are in play for Gay. If the plan is indeed to start Gay at the SAM spot, it’s not the best use of his special athletic ability, which we believe to be a perfect fit for WILL as a chase linebacker with coverage skills.
The logic I see for it is that the SAM spot might be the easiest way to get Gay on the field to develop with live reps in a role that perhaps may not be as demanding. With the limited offseason, this could be an attempt to give him less responsibility but get him on the field. Perhaps they’re restricting how much of a workload in coverage he has but wants to get him familiar and experienced with the fronts and run fits.
Dorian O’Daniel has been unable to earn the trust of the Chiefs to fill a role he seemed tailor-made to fill, and the Chiefs spent a second-round pick to grab Gay, who is a big, fluid athlete. Gay is by far the most athletic linebacker on the roster in consideration for playing time and is the Chiefs’ only chance to improve the coverage ability at the second level of their defense. Hopefully, by the end of the year, he will have earned a bigger role in the defense and is seeing work on passing downs. If he’s really here in year one to simply replace what Reggie Ragland provided as the SAM, you’re not going to see much of him on the field — the Chiefs weren’t in their base all too much.
I hope any plans to start Gay at SAM are only temporary, and the role expands as the season progresses — which would be a logical developmental plan. I’m sure the virtual offseason has thrown a wrench into things, but I hope Gay can overcome that obstacle to earn playing time on third downs early.
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