Antonio Brown: Erasing The Memory Of Mike Wallace

By Jeremy Hritz

The Pittsburgh Steelers may only be 1-4 and still a long ways away from being considered a playoff team, but one thing is for certain: their passing game, despite the constant pounding taken by Ben Roethlisberger, is steadily heating up.

With that in mind and considering the performance thus far of Antonio Brown, the decision to let Mike Wallace skedaddle to Miami seems like a very intelligent one.

Well played, Kevin Colbert.

Sure, Brown doesn’t create the defensive anxiety like Wallace does, but his ability to make critical catches and to produce after the catch has been excellent in 2013.

Last season, after five games as the Steelers primary receiver, Wallace caught 21 balls for 345 yards and four touchdowns, with a 16.4 yard average per reception. During that five game stretch, the Steelers were 2-3.

In comparison, this season, Brown has caught 41 passes for 498 yards, two touchdowns, with an average of 12.1 yards per catch, which is 1.2 yards below his career average.

If you are counting, Brown has caught 20 more passes for 153 more yards this year through five games than Wallace did one year ago.

But yeah, there’s that win/loss record thing.

Could it be that Brown truly is a better number one in Pittsburgh than Wallace was during his tenure?

Brown is definitely not immune to criticism, and you don’t have to look any further than his dropped touchdown pass on a back shoulder throw from Roethlisberger against the Jets. In fact, that play, a dropped touchdown, is somewhat characteristic of Brown’s career, as he doesn’t seem to have a penchant for the end zone. In his four years as a receiver with the Steelers, he has never caught for more than five touchdowns in a season, and only nine total in his career. In order to elevate his game another notch, he must get in the end zone and make the catches like the one he dropped this past Sunday.

Despite his TD deficiencies, Brown is making Wallace easily forgettable. And if he continues on his torrid pace, he will end the season with 131 catches for 1593 yards, which should assuredly be enough to earn him a spot in the Pro Bowl.

Even more importantly, if the Steelers are to actualize their seemingly far-fetched hopes for a playoff berth, Brown is going to have to continue at that pace and score more touchdowns in the process.

The Dolphins were off in week six, and you have to wonder if Wallace watched his former team, and his replacement, get their first win of the season.

This much is for sure, in the competition for who has the better season receiving between Brown and Wallace, AB clearly has the upper hand. Wallace, at this juncture, has only caught 22 balls for 281 yards and one touchdown.

On December 8th, the two receivers will get to share the stage at Heinz Field, and undoubtedly both will be motivated to put on a fireworks display.

I’ll be betting on Brown to light it up.

  • Tom Savastano

    Its sure looking like the Steelers made the right call on who to keep…They get it right more often than not..

  • Luke Shabro

    I like Brown for the most part. I feel like he does a pretty good job of holding onto the ball. He seems to be able to run the full route tree but…. he’s dumb as a box of rocks and that first down celebration nonsense drives me ballistic. Now I guess I’m the old man shaking my cane at the young whippersnappers.

  • TJimmy

    And some people thought Antonio Brown couldn’t get open without Wallace being a deep threat. Brown is lightning quick.

  • joed32

    LOL!

  • steeltown

    A.Brown is easily the better receiver, he has far better hands and he knows how to get open even when he’s covered over top. So far this season he really looks like he’s taken a page out of Hines Wards book in that he finds the creases and holes in Defenses and has become Ben’s safety valve.
    Now the big question has and will always be the TD production, one more TD against Tenn or Minn and those games may have gone differently, but all in all Brown has been a beast this year.

  • Wayne Darby

    I have been singing Brown’s praise for a long time now and was happy to see Wallace go. A lot of people gave me crap about his TD production but I counter with Wallace was a cancer in the Burgh and now in South Beach.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I’m not understanding this one.

    Brown is not a replacement for Wallace…we had them both and were a better OFC team. Brown’s production has not been effected by Wallace not being here, kudos to him b/c I though it would.

    The quartet of Brown/Wallace/Sanders/Cotchery is better than Brown/Sanders/Cotchery/Wheaton.

    Is Brown a better #1 than Wallace…I think he is, but we’re not better off…Wheaton has to deliver more than he has.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I am glad that you see that as well. The hope of course is that Wheaton will begin producing more but overall we were better with Wallace.

  • Mike Carroll

    I think the article is suggesting the Steelers made the right contract decision with Wallace which I think is absolutely correct. In fact, if Colbert offered Wallace the same deal they gave Brown as typically assumed/reported, then I’m thankful Wallet needed more paper because he isn’t even worth the money AB is getting. His numerous weekly mistakes subtract much from the benefits of his explosive speed. I’m not sure if the team will be better off without him for this year, but I think they will be in future years.

  • Eric

    Dumb? We didn’t see your score on an IQ test?

  • Eric

    You cannot compare these receiving cores because the pass protection was different.

  • Luke Shabro

    Have you ever seen an interview with that guy? But you’re right, I’m an idiot. Is that a question or a comment? You win, cool guy!

  • Luke Shabro

    *Corps. What’s your IQ?

  • Eric

    High enough to know better than to call somebody dumb because of the way you perceive they come across in an interview. Grow up!

  • ATL96STEELER

    Mike…even with his limited route tree, he was a PB player…admittedly his lame duck season left a lot to be desired, but that’s the nature of the NFL game.

    AB’s deal I think was setup to include MW as Brown’s cap hit has just now become significant. But…when they saw MW’s number was not coming down, they moved on.

    Not sure…Are we better @ CB with Lewis in NO?

    I don’t like the way MW handled this, but in the end, he was right. The open market would pay his price…I’m glad PIT didn’t pay it, but I’m happy he got his money. I hope they will be better in the future, but not today.

  • NW86

    LOL!

  • dennisdoubleday

    Would we be $9.5M of cap hit better with Wallace? I don’t think so. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter since there is NO WAY they could have absorbed that hit without some serious cuts elsewhere that would have made us worse.

  • charles

    Totally agree with what you say. There are a couple of esoteric points to be made. We don’t know what the value of Wallace stretching the field had on our other recievers or the running game. But we know that it kept at least one safety playing the deep ball instead of coming up on the run or shadowing Heath. Ben’s bomb to Sanders was great though. Also if we can get some use out of Moye then the lack of TDs by Brown can be made up by comittee. Bens most powerful redzone pass is to the corner of the endzone and as Ben has expressed many times to a tall reciever.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Dumb is pretty harsh Luke football is not the dumb jock sport it used to be. Guys have to be pretty smart now a days thats why they weigh so heavy on the wonderlic scores during the combine.

  • steeltown

    We may have been a better Offense with Wallace, but we couldn’t afford both Wallace and Brown, the Steelers hardly ever pay big money for a WR let alone 2WRs

  • ATL96STEELER

    Hypothetical….idk how much better either…cap wise we’re better off w/o Lewis as well, but now we’re talking about something different.

  • cencalsteeler

    I respectfully disagree. Wheaton is a class act kid. His heart is in the right place and he will develop into a nice receiver for us down the line. Wallace is a gifted athlete, but his attitude and lack of effort on the field is what red flagged the fo. It’s not his talent that didn’t warrant an extension from the Steelers. It was his lack of passion for the game that didn’t get the approval of the brass. I’d take a kid with less talent and a huge heart over a talented kid with no heart any day.

  • ATL96STEELER

    At some point they are going to have to pay 2 WRs…just the way the league is going. Sanders is playing well enough to get legit #2 WR money ($2.5 to $3 mil per) next yr.

    If they don’t keep him, then Wheaton or (insert name) becomes the #2 guy. If you’re picking high and you can get a #2 for fairly cheap like Sanu in CIN.

    In this case I really think they wanted to sign MW and then lockup Brown early like they eventually did, but they paid him #1 money. The deal was struck (lg cap hit was delayed) with the hope that MW would come around to their number which he never did.

  • Douglas Andrews

    The guy’s a multimillionaire so if being called dumb comes along with that sign me up

  • ATL96STEELER

    That’s fine.

    Attitude, lack of passion.

    Not to start from the beginning, but everyone knows MW was 3rd rd pick…this guy made the PB earning a little over $300k in the 2nd season.

    He didn’t ask for anymore $, he waited until his FA contract and then he let it be known what he wanted to make ($50 mil)…his mistake was thinking he would get that as a restricted FA…anything players are in a contract year in the NFL, they want to make sure they are healthy…will you get a 100% effort from lame duck players…it’s rare that you do.

    As ridiculous as it sounded, he got $10mil more as an UFA.

    Didn’t warrant…the Steelers clearly wanted to extend MW…at their price (which I believe was fair money).

    Wheaton is here, I really hope the kid shines.

  • r4kolb

    Did Moye play? If he did he was invisible.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    The best way for Antonio Brown to erase the memory of Mike Wallace is making the game winning catch in the Super Bowl.

  • Dr. Doom

    Did Mike do that? Will Mike ever do that? No and No

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Am I to understand that you think being a good football player = smart? You and Luke both make good points but I don’t think there’s a coach out there who needs a scholar playing NT whats needed is a hammer. To your point though one would prefer that a QB for instance show an encouraging level of intelligence as there is much information to process in a minimal amount of time.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Now if he could only block.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Did anyone say Mike ever did that? Will everyone forget this Wallace vs Brown nonsense if Antonio helps the Steelers win a Super Bowl? No, and an emphatic YES.

  • Virdin Barzey

    I completely disagree with those who say we are better with Mike Wallet. If you look at our o-line you would quickly realize that’s not the case. Mike is a one-trick pony and is very limited beyond that trick. He maybe able to take the top off but it sure hasn’t help Miami. Want to know why? Your #1 need to be able to make all kinds of catches and run crisp patterns, understanding what the defenses are doing and making sure you are in sync with the QB……We see all of this from Brown who’s giving Ben an opportunity to get rid of the ball instead of waiting for Wallet to run past the safety for the perfect pass where he doesn’t need to jump or do anything……

    I’m sure these are the same people who wanted to keep Plaxico the first time he left for New York. There are certain players that fit in well and its beyond their talent. Mike didn’t fit the Steelers way…..and neither does Sanders.

  • Douglas Andrews

    My original point was just because A Brown is not good with his interviews that’s no reason to be called dumb. To me he seems shy and unpolished and that has nothing to do with his intellect. He just needs some interviewing coaching.

  • Lamarr56

    It’s not like Wallace could block either.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Got it…they had him on NFL Live last season(?) with Trey Wingo and the boys. The kid (AB) had a smile ear to ear during the whole time he was on…thought it was kinda funny…seemed excited to have his moment in the spotlight. In regards to your comment about interviewing coaching, I wish players when interviewed can find it in themselves to not say “Uh”, “Uhm”, “Like”, “Know what I mean” as a prelude to every sentence.

    Uh, its uhm, like very uh, irritating to like uhm listen to them uh give an interview, know what I mean?

  • RedCarpetDefense

    True…there are very few (seemingly) WRs who are willing blockers. Many times (after looking at replay) its the WR block downfield that springs the ball carrier for big gains or scores. Funny how they (WRs) make a half-hearted effort but when the ball is in their hands they point to who their teammate should be going after so they can make a big play.

  • Douglas Andrews

    That’s the part I dont understand. I’d be practicing all the time if I knew that giving interviews would be a big part of my new job. I mean aren’t most of the questions pretty standard? My favorite is when a reporter ask a question then you get a long winded answer that never answers the question…makes me want to get those 2 minutes of my life back.

  • Pat Lopez

    The Pittsburgh Steelers offered receiver Mike Wallace a five-year, $50 million contract to
    remain with the team. Was this the right call? If Wallace accepted their offer, it would have been bad for Antonio and the Steelers. Antonio is really playing like an #1 receiver. However, he dropped as many TDs that he caught.

  • Mike Carroll

    We’ll never know for sure what the Steelers intentions were with Wallace. But, I really doubt the Steelers ever planned on paying both AB and MW that type of money. And, I’d like to think the Steelers were actually targeting AB as their future number one the whole time, using the situation with Wallace as a bargaining tool of sorts. Some suggested they ‘settled for’ AB when they couldn’t get MW. Others said, they signed AB early (with 2 yrs left on his deal) as a means to spite MW. But, I don’t think Colbert would do something foolish like ‘settling for’ a player or spiting another one. I think they signed the one they wanted.

  • Mike Carroll

    One more thought: I’d rate MW as great number two, but a poor number one. I think that makes complete sense when you view him as one trick pony. A number two can thrive with one trick as good as MWs, but a number one will not. AB on the hand is a very good number two and a good number one. Perhaps, the Steelers saw it in much the same way during their negotiations with them.

  • ATL96STEELER

    If we follow the money trail, I think we’ll see that PIT really did want to keep Wallace…they offered a reported 5/$45 mil contract with roughly $20g. Worst case they offered him the same deal as AB with more upfront money.

    IMO, AB and Wallace were both in the picture…had Wallace signed, I don’t think AB would’ve gotten as much, but the early signing I think was still in their plans. I don’t get the sense this was an either or situation initially.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I never looked at Wallace as 1 and Brown as the 2…really more of 1a and 1b, because the skill sets really were perfect for each other.

    “one trick” is more rep than reality, but granted, his route tree is more limited than Brown. I’m not sure if you’re giving a top shelf deep threat the same level of respect as coaches do.

    There are maybe 3 or 4 guys in the NFL that dictate you keep a deep safety back at all times…Torrey Smith, DeSean Jackson, and Mike Wallace. DCs have to game plan for these guys every week.

    To put a cap on this…I thought PIT made a fair offer to MW, and I felt he wasn’t worth a $50 mil contract…on this team…no, he wasn’t a great Steeler WR, but I did appreciate what he did in PIT.

  • HarryBackside

    And the award for most ignorant comment of the day goes to … Luke!

    I didn’t realize that speech was an indicator of intelligence.

    AB grew up poor, and practically homeless. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that he didn’t put the amount of focus in the classroom as he would have liked, and there probably weren’t a lot of people in his neighborhood who were speaking the Queens English.

    I remember hearing AB in interviews during his rookie season. He’s improved a lot since then, and it’s obvious he has put in a lot of effort into improving his ability to speak on camera.