Mike Wallace Still Can Fly By Any Defensive Back In Football…
The Baltimore Ravens signed Mike Wallace in NFL Free Agency. What they need from the veteran receiver is someone who can stretch the defense vertically. Wallace is not expected to be a star; he is expected to be a solid role player. What happens if Wallace exceeds those expectations.
It’s all too easy to point at Wallace and say that he’s on the decline. He’s past his prime and he’ll never be the same guy he was in Pittsburgh. The narrative writes itself. But does Wallace still have some star power left in him? Did his talent or physical abilities really diminish?
We know one thing about Wallace. It in fact is the only thing we know to be a fact about Wallace. We know that Wallace has blazing speed. That’s why the Ravens wanted him.
Wallace’s numbers have dropped ever since he left the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, Wallace had just 39 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns.
The thing that changed for Wallace has been his situation. The Minnesota Vikings don’t throw the ball deep with a high frequency. Ben Roethlisberger was the only quarterback that was a true match for Wallace. It is possible that in the right circumstance and the right quarterback, Wallace could once again be one of the most exciting players in football.
The Ravens are the right situation. While the Ravens have had very little luck with young receivers; Baltimore is where veteran receivers find the fountain of youth. Its working for Steve Smith Sr., it worked for Anquan Boldin and it worked for Derrick Mason. Joe Flacco is the right quarterback; he loves to let the football fly.
At his peak Wallace put up over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. I promise you, this is a serious question; what if he puts up that kind of performance for the Ravens. If his speed did not diminish, he has the right quarterback and situation, why can’t he shine?
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If Wallace was able to match his best year in Pittsburgh, the Ravens will be more than pleased. Happiness is based on expectation. A surprise like that would be worth throwing a parade for. The Ravens have a lot of talent around Wallace. If he has a great season, it will help the entire offense.
If Wallace exceeds his expectations the Ravens will be difficult to beat. All the sudden it gets hard to focus on just stopping one receiver. This means Smith Sr. has a chance to eat against one on one coverage. It means a newly proven Kamar Aiken can continue to be a solid play-maker.
Just imagine Wallace in the slot and Ben Watson flexed out at the tight end position. The speed in the middle of the field would be outstanding. The Ravens would be able to not only stretch the field horizontally, but now they could do it vertically. When the defense has to respect Wallace’s ability to beat them deep, it makes everything easier for the offense.
I am not saying that we should expect a monster year from Wallace. What I am saying is that we should not write it off. His speed did not go away. His ability to run past defenders to make good things happen, that didn’t vanish. Wallace has the opportunity to do well. Now he must capitalize on it.