The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Cody Wallace
Position: Interior OL (Center)
Experience: 6 Years
Though technically having accrued just six years of experience, half of which have come with the Steelers over the course of the past three seasons, interior offensive lineman Cody Wallace was actually a fourth-round draft pick of the 49ers back in 2008. He lost two accrued seasons having been primarily a practice squad player earlier in his career.
In fact, Wallace had hardly been a meaningful contributor of any sort before coming to Pittsburgh. He was only active for nine games from 2008 to 2012, with eight of them coming in 2012, the year before the Steelers signed him, with his one-year stint in Tampa Bay. During that time, he logged under 20 snaps.
Since coming to Pittsburgh, however, he has played roughly 1500 snaps, most of which have come this season, during which he played every meaningful snap outside of two kneel downs in one game. During the regular season, he has made 22 starts over the past three years.
Not be design, of course, but only out of necessity due to injury. 20 of those starts have stemmed from season-ending injuries suffered by center Maurkice Pouncey, 16 of which came this season. Pouncey suffered a leg injury during the preseason, and the Steelers had to make do with Wallace all year.
All things considered, it should be said that he did an adequate job relative to expectations; however, I would add that he possesses a fan base stemming from his tenacity and underdog status that tends to inflate his actual performance.
The truth is that through much of the season, the offensive line performed well in spite of Wallace, mitigating the mistakes that he made in blitz recognition, or the times that he was beaten up the middle in the running game, resulting in a tackle for loss.
The veteran journeyman certainly improved as the season progressed, and, when tasked without any trickery up the middle in pass protection, he did well, but the only accurate description of his season could be ‘adequate’.
What was certainly below the line was his discipline, however, racking up double-digit penalties over the course of the season, leading all interior offensive linemen in that category, including a fair helping of both pre- and post-snap penalties.
Wallace is a very likable player—when he plays for your team—because of his blue-collar nature and his physicality, which are obvious attractors for an offensive lineman. But he still is what he is, which is a backup lineman who can fill in as a starter—at a deficit—if necessary. Make no mistake, the Steelers will not be moving Pouncey to guard any time soon.