Is Mike Wallace, one of the top deep threats in the NFL the past three seasons, turning into a possession receiver in Todd Haley’s offense?
In the past two games, Wallace has caught 15 passes for 114 yards, an average of 7.6 yards per catch – well below the 18.7 yards per catch he has averaged his first three seasons in the league. He had seven catches for 62 yards against the Redskins, the fourth game this season he has averaged less than 10 yards per catch.
Wallace does have an 82-yard TD catch against the Titans, but it was one of the rare times quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has attacked deep this season. Under former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, the Steelers would attack over the top at least 3-4 times every game, believing that even if the passes weren’t completed they would at least loosen up the defense. That’s why Wallace had a streak of six consecutive games with at least one pass of 40 yards or longer last season – the longest streak in the league since 2000.
But that has not been the case with Haley, whose approach is more geared to ball control – something the Steelers have done better than every team but the Texans after seven games. Wallace was considered the top receiver for the Steelers because of his big-play ability. And while he is second on team with 38 catches and four TDs, Antonio Brown has become the team’s leading receiver and playmaker.
Why is that significant?
Because if the Steelers believe Brown is their No. 1 receiver and Wallace No. 2, then they will never pay Wallace more than the six-year, $48 million contract Brown signed early in training camp. Wallace is in the final year of his contract and held out of training camp this summer after rejecting an offer larger than what Brown received.
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