Bad news again Wednesday, as the Chiefs rule Willie Gay and L’Jarius Sneed out for Thursday’s matchup with the Chargers.
Chiefs Focus @ChiefdFocus Charles Robinson @CRob5769
As I was writing my 1,900+ word “what to watch for” blog about the Thursday matchup with the Chargers, my phone began to blow up. Chiefs twitter is not a happy place at the moment, with the injury report dropping and with that, news that the Chiefs had ruled out cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (personal reasons) and linebacker Willie Gay, Jr (COVID) for Thursday’s game against the Chargers. The Sneed news isn’t the biggest surprise in the world – the emotional toll of losing a sibling has to be immense, particularly when that sibling had such a huge impact on you as a child.
The Willie Gay news, though. Another punch to the gut, a day after it was announced that Chris Jones was placed in COVID protocol. This is what I initially had down in one of the keys to tomorrow night’s game about Gay’s role:
Keep an eye out for Willie Gay’s impact on this game. Everyone has talked about the secondary, Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Melvin Ingram nonstop on this 6 game winning streak. But Willie Gay is the first sideline to sideline defenders the Chiefs have had at linebacker since Derrick Johnson was still mobile. His impact on the team’s defensive performance is so understated it’s not funny, and he should be a Pro Bowler this year for what he’s brought to the table for the 2-time defending AFC Champions.
Gay has been so, so crucial in piecing together this defensive renaissance, and is a unicorn at the linebacker positions with his athleticism and most importantly his energy. Sneed missing his second consecutive game is not the best news either, as the Chiefs will be missing a lockdown corner who can tackle as well as anyone in the NFL against a Chargers receiving corps that is dangerous to say the least. We will see how this impacts the outcome of the game, but the initial feeling is not one of warmth and fuzziness.
We’ll have a full fledged game preview out tomorrow morning, which will include a deeper dive on these two defensive star’s absences, what to expect from their replacements (presumably Mike Hughes and Anthony Hitchens/Ben Niemann), and how it will impact the game.