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.
|MIKE WALLACE’S BIG PLAY DROPOFF|
|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.