Oct 20, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers: How much do the Steelers miss Mike Wallace?

After his 2012 season, it was a foregone conclusion that wide receiver Mike Wallace would be parting ways with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Wallace got his money with the Miami Dolphins and will make his return to Heinz Field this Sunday where he will be in store for a less than positive greeting from the Steelers crowd.

Oct 27, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) runs against the New England Patriots during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

But given the way the Steelers 2013 season has gone and the way Wallace has performed this season, you have to wonder how much the Steelers really miss him?

It hasn’t been a horrible season for Wallace despite the slow start. He’s caught 56 passes for 743 yards and three touchdowns. While those numbers are decent, they don’t warrant the big money contract he received.

But I have to make the case that the Steelers miss Wallace more than anyone would like to admit. I also will make the case that Wallace misses the Steelers.

As for Wallace, his numbers would likely be much better with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback rather than Ryan Tannehill in Miami. That’s a given. At the end of the day Wallace will end up missing Roethlisberger as not lining up with Big Ben has hurt his numbers.

As for the Steelers, I look at how they have had to replace him.

Emmanuel Sanders is not a legitimate No. 2 NFL receiver and his deficiencies have been exposed.

Sanders’ numbers are close to Wallace’s in terms of receptions, but he is not the threat that Wallace was in a Steelers uniform.

While both Sanders and Wallace have had nine receptions of over 20 yards, the Steelers as a team rank only 22nd in the NFL in passing plays over 20 yards.

That’s a dimension that Wallace brings to an offense that Sanders doesn’t. In a Steelers uniform with Roethlisberger throwing to him, you could make the case that the offense would have had more big plays under its belt.

Similar to what Sanders is doing this year, there is no mistaking the fact that Wallace had a poor season last year and it made sense for the organization to move on.

However Wallace hasn’t been replaced yet and it may be a long while until he is. Until that happens he will be missed in this Steelers offense.

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Tags: Mike Wallace Pittsburgh Steelers

  • jayman419

    I’m not trying to bust your chops, but your the numbers you’ve based all of this on are inaccurate (at best).

    Emmanuel Sanders 2013 so far: 54 receptions on 94 targets. Averaging 11.2 yards per completion with a long of 55 yards.

    Mike Wallace 2013 so far: 56 receptions on 105 targets. Averaging 13.3 yards per completion with a long of 57 yards.

    2013: 49 team plays of 20+ yards through week 14.

    2012: 49 team plays of 20+ yards all year.

    For comparison, Miami has 36 passing plays for 20+ yards in 2013. And as you pointed out, Wallace and Sanders have each contributed 9 to their team’s totals, so they’re perfectly matched there, which means Wallace isn’t exactly “taking the top off” for Miami’s offense.

    You also forgot to mention that Sanders has 4 TDs as opposed to Wallace’s 3.

    For receivers, it really comes down to what they’re able to do once they catch the ball. In that respect, Sanders has 222 YAC and 27 first downs. Wallace has 241 YAC and 35 first downs. That’s not exactly demonstrating a massive disparity between their skillsets.

    And don’t forget… The guy “in front” of Wallace has 62 receptions. (And actually only 104 targets to Wallace’s already mentioned 105.) Meanwhile Sanders is playing with Antonio Brown, who has 85 receptions on 123 targets.

    If I were a jaded man, I’d say you cherry picked stats (and how you reported them) to support a preconceived notion, rather than looking at the numbers and drawing a conclusion.

    Because, by the numbers, the only conclusion one can draw is that Wallace isn’t worth the money he wanted. Wallace is barely worth more than the $2.5 million we’re paying Emmanuel Sanders. Whatever ‘problems’ the Steelers may have on offense, Wallace isn’t the answer.

    He’s always had stone hands. He’s always been sloppy on any route other than “Go”, and he’s always been a prima donna who achieves his greatest value in his own mind rather than through the field of play.

    Sorry, I’m really not trying to be rude. It’s cool that you write for the site, and it’s cool that we have stuff to read on an otherwise boring evening. Just.. don’t phone it in (if that’s what happened here). Give us the good stuff, man.

    • Matt Gajtka

      If I may vouch for my colleague here, I don’t think you’re factoring in the quarterbacks enough. Part of Matt’s point is that Wallace would have better numbers playing with Roethlisberger rather than Tannehill. I think that’s a pretty easy conclusion to arrive at. Maybe the Steelers should’ve let him go, but the element of field-stretching speed is missing from the offense. They’re doing relatively fine without it, but it’s not there.

      • jayman419

        If you click “See More” I went into that. I also thanked Mr. Shetler for writing for the site in the first place, which I should have done earlier because I’m afraid most people probably didn’t see it. I really wasn’t just complaining, I was just making a (much belabored, overly verbose admittedly) point.

        I disagree with that assessment on two main points, and have a different conclusion.

        Sanders was less than a tenth of a second faster in the 40 than Wallace. That fact that Sanders and Wallace are very close in YAC (which isn’t affected by the quarterback at all) shows that Sanders is easily up to the task of replacing him. But Sanders is a more complete receiver so we use him for more than “Go that way as fast as you can”.

        Roethlisberger isn’t “Big Ben” in Haley’s offense, but regardless of
        that Wallace’s decline began in 2011, so 2012 wasn’t just a fluke or an
        ‘off-year’. 2010 was the aberration, I think we’ll see this as time goes on.

        While I do feel our receiving corps is missing some key piece of the puzzle, I don’t think it’s Wallace. I think it’s Ward. Jerricho Cotchery was supposed to be our ‘go-to’ short yardage possession guy. But with him not playing up to par, and with Heath being at less than 100 percent for most of the season, it’s had a dramatic effect on the outcome of games.

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  • Truf

    The analysis is still lacking. Pittsburgh’s greatest issue – which has been exposed many times over the past several seasons (including most notably in the recent Ravens game) – has been in its red zone efficiency. Why do you think so many of Heath Miller’s opportunities come down at the goal line? It’s because he is the Steelers’ only receiver who can gain separation in that part of the field.

    The Steelers need a lot of help at a lot of positions but their greatest need, aside from possibly LT, is a big-bodied WR and/or H-Back who can move the sticks and who can create matchup problems for other teams in the red zone. Even when Wallace was in Pittsburgh they had too many WRs of the same body type.

    • Matt Gajtka

      Good perspective. The lack of a run game hurts in the red zone as well. I don’t think the piece was intended to be an analysis of the entire offense, more just a look at the effects of Wallace leaving.