Mike Wallace is a good wide receiver, however his actions before the season have placed him under a large microscope.
Last night, when the team needed him most, he let everyone down.
Wallace may be the fastest receiver in the league but he is only great for one route, go long and outrun the defender. The Ravens have that too, and Torrey Smith was shut down by Ike Taylor last night.
Wallace is able to do a 10-yard slant route as well but he can only catch it if it is high.
When it comes to learning new routes, Wallace looks like the four-year-old trying to ride a bike for the first time.
Following the first half of last season, Wallace had established himself as the team’s No. 1 receiver. He tapered off in the second half of the season as Antonio Brown then excelled. Brown was able to learn different routes and Ben Roethlisberger was able to consistently find him.
In the offseason Brown was largely quiet, while Wallace was a no show to training camp. He reportedly wanted “Larry Fitzgerald money.” Wallace again had a solid first few games but has tapered off again ever since.
The frustration became even greater yesterday when Wallace clearly fumbled a ball in the first quarter and then in the fourth did not go down and get a catchable ball.
Last season DeSean Jackson went through the motions with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he admitted that. Wallace appears to be doing the same thing and that is not going to get you an increase of money.
While it was clear that the Steelers missed Roethlisberger, they may have missed Antonio Brown more. Without Brown, Byron Leftwich did not have that receiver that he could be really confident with. Emmanuel Sanders is still way too inconsistent, Jericho Cotchery had a few penalties in the first quarter and it led to full scramble mode.
I do not blame Leftwich for the Steelers loss last night. Much like Chris Rainey he was set up to fail. Todd Haley’s playbook is not one tailor-made for Leftwich and Wallace did not do the team any favors Sunday night.
The Steelers already have had guys who can drop the football and immediately Limas Sweed pops into mind. The guy seemed to be talented, but he just could not catch the ball when he needed to be.
Also popping into mind is Plaxico Burress. Until his final Steelers season, he had a big case of the drops. In both cases the Steelers made the decision to release their man and it appeared to pay off. The Steelers also gave up on Santonio Holmes who had off the field problems going into the draft that the Steelers knew about but gambled. Ultimately they found that price too high and gave up on him as well.
Now more than ever, this is Wallace’s chance to shine. I am unsure if he realizes it. This is where his actions will speak louder than his words. His actions thus far? I see the football on the ground way too much. What does that lead me to believe? No money for you.
Wallace can be a game changer, but he is no Larry Fitzgerald but there is a reason why he is still covered by opponent’s best cornerback. His game-breaking speed and deep route are still feared. Wallace knows this, but he needs to do his homework and try to find out ways to be open or at least draw flags so that the Steelers can move the ball down the football field.
It seems to me that Wallace is so set in his ways, and you don’t get paid the big bucks just because you can run one route. It’s time for Wallace to step up. If he can’t, then he can line up and watch Antonio Brown make more money than him.
With the Cleveland Browns the opponent next weekend, Wallace should do some homework. His paycheck next season may depend on it.