Sure, the deep passes to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace are down so far this season under the direction of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but he is still on pace to have a solid season, and the process might just be increasing his market value as well.
Despite the lack of deep receptions, the Steelers fourth year receiver has 36 catches on the season and that equals the most in his career through the first seven games played (36 receptions in 2011). In addition, the player that most still like to refer to as a one-trick pony has tied his career high of eight receptions twice this season and he has now done that five times in his career.
What Wallace can do deep is well documented on tape and every defensive coordinator that the Steelers play going forward has that in the back of their mind. That threat alone is part of the reason why Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller all have 22 or more receptions so far through the first seven games.
Despite some comments that Wallace made following the game against the Washington Redskins that can be interpreted as him not feeling like he was part of that game-plan, the receiver said on 93.7 The Fan this week that he understands that the opportunities for him to make plays is still there.
“Right now, we’re not getting the yards per catch that we want, but we’re still getting opportunities, so we just have to take some short ones and make them big,” Wallace said.
Sure, Wallace has had some drops this season, but despite those and the lack of the deep ball, he is still on pace to record 82 catches, 1050 yards, and 9 touchdowns. That is nothing to sneeze at when you consider all of the weapons that this offense has and the way that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likes to spread the ball around. It also shows that Wallace can put up consistent stats no matter how he is used and it will forever dispel the notion that he is a one-trick pony in the process.
In the end, Wallace might just be able to ride this new shorter passing game of Haley\'s to an even bigger payday following the season. This assumes of course that he is allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent following the season and is not hit with the franchise tag. Both scenarios are equally possible at this time.
As far as the deep ball goes, Wallace will have those opportunities going forward and they could come as soon as Sunday against the New York Giants, a team that has already allowed 7 passing touchdowns of 25 yards or more and 35 passing plays of 20 yards or more.
In the end, it is realistic that Wallace comes close to matching his totals of 2011. He will likely just go about doing it a different way. How is that bad? The proof will be on the tape and Wallace for one should be excited about that.