Big Ben’s Rotator Cuff Injury May Be Bad News For Mike Wallace, Steelers

Yes, I know Mike Wallace isn’t in camp. Holdouts happen in the NFL, especially during training camp, so I won’t get worried about that until we reach Week Three of the preseason.

But there is something else that does worry me about Wallace’s production this season–the news that Ben Roethlisberger has had a minor tear in his rotator cuff that occurred in Week 9 of last season.

Rotator cuff tears aren’t something that get better on their own. You just have to hope that they don’t get worse. All reports out of training camp this summer say that Roethlisberger looks good, and that the injury doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. But I could help but think, does that explain Wallace’s second-half swoon last year?

After eight weeks of the season last year, Wallace was arguably the best wide receiver in the AFC. He had 43 catches for 800 yards with five touchdowns. He was catching roughly  five passes for 100 yards a game while still averaging 18.6 yard per catch.

From Week 9 on, Wallace was just a solid, if unspectacular, receiver. There were lots of theories thrown out for Wallace’s slow disappearance from the Steelers’ offense, you probably heard several of them on the Steelers Lounge podcasts. But now, we may have an explanation for the problems.

For the remaining 9 games of the season (counting the playoffs) Wallace had 32 catches for 419 yards with three touchdowns. He averaged only a little over three catches for 47 yards a game while averaging 13.1 yards per catch.

Rec. Yds 40+ Plays
Before Roethlisberger injury 43 800 6
After Roethlisberger injury 32 419 1

Now it’s only a supposition, but it makes some sense that part of Wallace’s dropoff came because Roethlisberger didn’t have as much comfort going deep or arm strength to pull it off because of the injury. Wallace had six plays of 40+ yards during the first eight games of the season. He had one after Roethlisberger’s injury.

I’m don’t think in any way that’s the only reason–teams were also clearly working very hard to make sure Wallace didn’t get behind the safeties–but it does potentially explain a lot.

If you take away the deep ball, Wallace goes from being one of the most frightening players in football to a useful, but containable No. 2 receiver. So I’ll be very interested to see how Roethlisberger looks throwing deep this preseason, whether Wallace is in camp or not.

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  • djanyreason

    Is it really accurate to describe Wallace as a “useful, but containable, No. 2 receiver”? Over the last two years, he’s had catch rate of 62.6% while averaging 18.6 yards/catch – in other words, a good catch rate (league average is 60.4%) while being thrown a lot of long passes.

    If you take away the long ball, by definition any player is containable. So why is a guy who’s shown plus skills at catching the ball and has the speed to break away from the defense once he has the ball merely “useful” and a “No. 2 receiver”?

  • JJ Cooper

    I’m saying that during the second half of the 2012 season without being a successful deep threat he was a useful, but containable No. 2. I think with the deep ball, he’s an elite No. 1 receiver.

  • Yoni

    This post scares me. I don’t like it.

    But seriously, if the Ben-to-Wallace deep ball is still in play we can be an offensive juggernaut, just behind the Packers, Saints, and Pats.

    Without it, I’m significantly less optimistic.

  • Jesse Murray

    Utter nonsense post. His ankle slowed him down not an injured shoulder, jeesh way to flame the paranid flames.

    • JJ Cooper

      The ankle injury didn’t happen until weeks later. Wallace’s production drop-off began earlier.

      • callouswhisper

        How about double teams, dont those count? AB’s production taking off. Weather gets colder does that count(passing stats went down considerably league wide in 2nd half of season)? Wallace not playing as well, does that count? If Ben had a torn rotator cuff that was serious he would have had off season surgey. You like everyone else are speculating.

        His ankle on the other hand reduced his mobility, his ability to plant properly and most important meant oline had to hold blocks longer so Ben could get ball off. He made plenty of very strong throws after ankle injury and before it. In fact in Niners game he overthrew a wide open Wallace by yards. Please explain how a Qb with a rotator cuff issues does that? Shouldnt that be underthrown? Even in Denver game deep ball to Wallace was underthrown but it was thrown by Ben across his body and he didnt have his feet set, again not a throw an injured rotator cuff allows you to make.

        Ben is the Steelers franchise QB. if he was hurt it would have been dealt with. This isnt the Raiders or the Browns, Steelers would not put out their most important player with a serious injury with ample time to fix it. Joe Flacco had a banged up shoulder last season as well, should Raven fans panic? Dalton fell off bigtime last season, is he hiding an injury? Tom Brady looked like utter crap v Ravens and tossed up some serious flutter balls, should Pats batten down the hatches? He also wasnt near as productive in 2nd half of season.

        Isnt an elite Qb out there that isnt carrying some knocks that will likely never go away but to leap to the conclusion dire, foreboding music appropos to silent move horror flicks needs to be introduced is a gross overreaction.

  • JDJ

    i diss agree with that.. take away the deep ball and wallace goes to a no. 2 wr how when everyone has to play so far off him just to keep up.. then all we have to do is have him run a come back after 10 yards and his guys are playing so far off him that hes getting the 1st down 9 out of 10 times.. and how many plays have you seen Big Ben take the snap and dish it to wallace and he goes sprinting up the sideline for 7-8 yards.. cause ive seen it plenty.. yes with out the deep ball hes not as elite but give him those quick passes and we’ll be able to pick away at any team like we do every year..deep ball or not hes still a threat to alot of teams.. the 50+ pass are exciting but we just started that.. we can easily stick to what we’ve been doing alot of 1st downs a possesion and Ben eattin 8-9min off the game clock.. STEELER NATION!!