Clark Thinks Wheaton Is Already Better Than Wallace At Everything But Speed

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark has never been shy about speaking his mind and in a recent interview with Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV, Clark let his thoughts be known about the loss wide receiver Mike Wallace during the offseason and the addition of third-round draft pick Markus Wheaton.

“Markus Wheaton is better than Michael Wallace at everything but one thing: speed,” Clark said. “That\’s it. He does everything else better, and it’s not a knock on Mike, and it\’s not saying that Markus can be more productive than Mike, because the thing that Mike did well, he did it better than anybody in the NFL, and that was run.

“I think as far as route running, he\’s more polished; I think he has better hands. They both are extremely tough guys to be slightly built, but just as being a receiver, to have an opportunity to catch I think like 100 balls, or something crazy last year at Oregon State; he\’s ready to step in and play. So we do lose that deep threat that Michael provided, although Markus can run, but nobody runs like Mike runs. I think Markus can step in and do that.”

Those are pretty strong words from Clark, but you can sense the conviction behind them in his voice when you listen to the interview. Wheaton, as Clark points out, caught nearly 100 passes last season as he finished the year with 91 catches for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Wheaton exhibited a few mental errors in the preseason opener last Saturday night against the New York Giants, but also showed some flashes of just how much potential he has. With his first-game jitters now behind him, it wouldn\’t be surprising to see him put on a show Monday night against the Washington Redskins.

As far as Clark\’s comments about Wheaton being a better all-around receiver than Wallace, he will get a chance to tell that to his former teammate\’s face when the Steelers host the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field in Week 14. Hopefully, Clark will be wearing his running shoes in that game or else Wallace will make him pay for running his mouth.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Kevin SFIC

    I totally agree with Clark’s assessment.

  • GNG

    Hopefully he’s right about Wheaton.

  • grw1960

    I didn’t mind the Steelers letting Wallace go. Only time will tell, but for now it is starting to look like the Steelers drafted a winner in Wheaton at WR.

  • Brendon Glad

    Wow! I respect Ryan Clark’s football acumen greatly…and I love how he made a POINT to make sure he was not “dissing” Mike Wallace by pointing out the brilliance of Wallace’s speed.
    So long story short, those were VERY encouraging words to hear from Mr. Clark. I’m ready to take him at his word. Cuz his words are usually pretty spot-on.

  • Mike.H

    Robert Woods was speculated to be picked by Steelers but was plucked by buffalo 3 picks earlier. The college stats showed Woods was the possession type of receiver with 11yd average per catch. Wheaten was 13.7…

    That proved Wheaton was the explosive type. Go Steelers!

  • Kolie Oak

    Being a resident here in SoCal, Wheaton is no joke…
    If given the opportunity I can easily see him winning offensive rookie of the year.
    I’ll take quick and explosive over straight line speed any day.
    Wallace was fast with no moves, Markus is everything Mike wasn’t.

  • JPDQ

    Really gonna miss this guy when he goes… one of our greatest FA signings ever. Young guys should pay attention to the way Clark handles himself on the field, and more importantly off the field. A true “professional” for sure.

  • cencalsteeler

    Very nice and encouraging compliment from Clark. But, I dislike when our players statements provide bulletin board material for other teams.

  • bgsteelfan

    I think that is pretty much spot on.

  • Intropy

    Wallace may not have had a great repertoire of moves to get open. But he had good hands. He caught 61% of his targets (not sure whether that includes uncatchable passes) in 2010 64% 2011, and 54% in 2012. For comparison Calvin Johnson was 57%, 61%, and 60%. Wallace’s spread is bigger but those numbers are pretty comparable. And longer passes have lower completion rates since they are harder to catch.

    I mention this because I think we have a tendency to try and tell ourselves a story about a player based on other factors. Wallace is blazing fast and uses that, so it’s only fair he must have other demerits. That doesn’t make it true that his other talents were poor. That just means he was a great receiver. Maybe we’re better off without him because his attitude hurt the team, and maybe his most recent year being his worst was a sign of a downturn. I certainly don’t think he’s worth the contract he got, but the man is a fine player.

    I think we did this to Ta’amu too. He did some really dumb and reckless things off the field so we pretend he showed himself to be poor on the field. Ta’amu showed essentially nothing at all on the field. He was a rookie who didn’t get to play. And that’s fine. It’s also completely reasonable to think what he did was bad enough that he didn’t deserve another chance. What was silly was allowing feelings about one attribute to cause us to lie to ourselves about another, unrelated attribute.

    Gilbert is another one getting this. He shows up out of shape, so we justifiably complain about preparation. Then he injures teammates. But those were freak accidents. Tackles get beaten and pushed over every game. Injuring a teammate is just bad luck. But when it came to actual play Gilbert was pretty good. Maybe that poor preparation means he’s playing not as well as he should, but that’s not the same as actually playing poorly.

  • Bell Cow

    Agreed, but Wallace has 60 million dollar that is hard to replace.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    yeah but the dolphins are down 60 million. I’d rather pay a rookie contract to a guy who does everything rather than paying a guy 60 mill and only having speed.

  • alex

    first, i love Clark, his play and his interviews are A+.

    second, Wheaton and our whole draft class exude, well, class…lets see how they grow.

    and third, LeBeau will have a plan to shut down one trick pony Wallace!

  • Brandon Andrews

    I like what he said, Mikes route running was terrible every route can not be a go route.

  • dgh57

    What Wheaton lacks in speed compared to Wallace he makes it up in another area.

    Todd Haley said in a post draft interview that Wheaton can not only play anywhere on the field as a WR(something Wallace couldn’t) but that he has the wider build and base of a RB thus he can carry the ball(again something Wallace couldn’t) as a RB also. Last year he carried the ball 20 times for 142 yds(7.10ypc). For his career 83 carries for 631yds(7.60ypc) Can he be used as a RB in our system? I don’t know for sure but he’ll get plenty of chances in reverses and end around plays like we saw last week vs the Giants!

    So Clark is spot on about Wheaton is better than Wallace except speed.

  • Bob Graff

    Really what did Clark think of Cruz when he was chasing him into the endzone? These players need to produce in the regular season then on a year to year basis right now nobody on the roster is better than 8-8 and a preseason loss.I watched the game last week and only 3 players showed up Howlings, Woods and DeCastro. everyone else should be trying to play better or just trying to play.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    We have enough speed out of three of our receivers (AB, Sanders, and Wheaton) to get deep and score. You don’t HAVE to have Wallace speed to be a deep threat. Sure, it’s nice, but not essential. 4.4 range still works. Give me a polished, versatile, quick, and reliable receiver with good hands any day. Mike had a good magic trick…but it was about the only one in his bag. And it wasn’t worth $60 million.

  • Brendon Glad

    ditto.
    But I’m all for an extension anyway, so we don’t have to worry about it for a bit. He’s always been VERY fair as a negotiator. So I think I’d like 2 more years from him even if the young pups behind him are solid.
    The only thing that would make me hesitate would be if the young pups are actually “tremendous and special” instead of just “developing”. Because Clark clearly could start for someone for another 2-3 years. Would never begrudge him if he passed the torch and moved on to start somewhere else.
    But I’m happy to have him now…and hope to see him in black-and-gold for another 2-3 years to boot.

  • Brendon Glad

    I was kind of wanting Woods. Liked what I saw of him. Really happy that the Steelers look to have snagged another good receiver instead. They have a VERY nice WR history in the draft in the last 15 years or so.
    I think of Edwards, Sweed, and the FSU WR-RET (with the Lis-franc injury) as the only notable “fails”. (maybe Danny Farmer, but he was a 4th) Ward, Burress, Holmes, Wallace, Brown, more than make up for that.
    Certain teams have certain niches, and as Steelers fans, we can usually bank on rookies in the RB, WR, DL, and LB spots to create plenty of “juice” during camp. (even if they are undrafted).

  • JPDQ

    I’d love to keep him too, but he’s been in the league what, 10 years now? Especially in this day and age with all the new evidence surrounding brain injury, for a safety to play more than 10 years has got to be increasingly rare. If I were him, I’d go out while I was still halfway clear-headed and at (near) the top of my game after a decade. We all know the NFL doesn’t wanna take care of you after you retire.

  • 2443scott

    wallace can run all he wants if tannehill cant keep the play alive like ben can whats the point by time wallace is open he be sacked or rushed out the pocket throwing it away and tannehill isnt and never will be a ben …..its route runners that keep the chains moving and burn up clock so the other teams qb has to sit on side lines

  • Brendon Glad

    Yeah, I was probably being selfish there. And that brother right there has LAID SOME WOOD!
    On the other hand, though, the NFL has stopped allowing him to hit people hard anymore. So who knows? lol

  • Milliken Steeler

    Really Bob? Someone named Arndt had a nice game as did Taamu, Justin Brown, Vince at MLB Mike Adams etc, Saying three people played well and the rest didn’t is a bit over the top.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Wheaton was one of my favorite receivers in this years draft but i didn’t think we would pick him because I felt that AB and Sanders were very similar but was very happy with the selection since I had a 2nd round grade on the kid

  • Bob Graff

    Yes really, excellent play Steeler style maybe it’s been so long that you don’t remember. We use to be able to field a team that could play lights out every play. Settling for mediocre play has got us to 8-8. You don’t win championships with a couple of NICE plays. Like i said only 3 players played Steeler football ,

  • Milliken Steeler

    I disagree about the three, but I understand the point you are trying to make.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I agree with Clark whole heartily. Although I think we will miss Wallace’s speed, Wheaton has been impressive he seems smooth with route running and he uses his hands very well.

  • Brendon Glad

    Yeah…dominating preseason games is the new formula for winning Super Bowls, I guess?
    That’s either a brand-spanking-new one…or a very, very old formula…because I’m 42, and I’ve never seen it. Preseason is about young guys making rosters. Nothing more, nothing less. At least to me.

  • Gautama Om

    I’ve said it before (when we drafted Wheaton) and I’ll say it again: Wheaton is the best pick in this year’s Steelers draft. Only time will tell though.

  • Bob Graff

    Well i have, Donnie Shell couldn’t get on the field because of Glenn Edwards but we knew he was good because of preseason, same with John Stalworth we had frank lewis. The list goes on and on. After watching the Seahawks , packers , patriots , It is very obvious that these teams are fine tuning a well oiled machine. We are not, preseason is a great tool for a team in need of finding young up and coming talent. I’m sorry but it appears the Steelers are struggling

  • Bob Graff

    And to answer your question even clearer yes playing good football is a great formula for winning football games any time. Preseason is about getting your team ready to win a Superbowl if you use it for anything else you are wasting your time.

  • Bell Cow

    3 years from now we could be having the same conversation about Wheaton as we did about Wallace. It’s hilarious how Steelers fans, inlcluding myself, believed Wallace was a top 10 receiver before last season. Now, since he went elsewhere, everyone gives reasons as to why he’s no longer a top flight receiver and a “one trick poney”. You’re blind if you don’t see how a receiver with Wallace’s talent makes the whole offense open up.

  • Pete

    I really don’t think there is anyone who will disagree with his comments. It was well known universally that Wallace was a speed demon and wasn’t the best route runner, hence the nickname, “one trick pony.” Markus Wheaton is not slow. You don’t have to be as fast as Wallace to take the top off the coverage. Lots of guys are fast enough. No worries there.

  • Brendon Glad

    I’ve never seen that pattern. But I’ve only been able to watch pre-season games in-depth since they came on satellite. I cannot recall one pre-season where I saw the Steelers (as a team), look tremendous. I’d venture to say there have been VERY FEW undefeated pre-seasons in the last 20-25 years. Yet, plenty of excellence during the seasons…not 1970’s excellence, granted, but excellence nonetheless.
    That SAID, there have been very few 0-4’s either, if any, during those years either.
    So my expectation has always been 2-2…and some young guys to flash. 1-3 is satisfactory as long as young guys flash…3-1 sometimes happens too.
    But the Colts under Dungy always went 1-3 or 0-4 in preseason…and Detroit tends to dominate preseason (at least to my recollections, maybe I’m wrong). I’ve just never found a pattern there. Maybe you have. No disrespect, just disagreement. :-)