You can probably count on Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace not being a fan of advanced analytics when it comes to him looking at what he can offer his newest team. Instead, Wallace would like everyone to take his word for it that he’s a better receiver now than he was when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I think I’ve gotten better, even though [the] numbers don’t say so,” Wallace said recently, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “I think I’ll get better this year, and I’ll show some people I have a lot up my sleeve.”
While Wallace believes he’s a better receiver than he was several years ago, the 29-year-old former third-round draft pick of the Steelers did admit that he might not be as fast as he once was.
“I’ve probably run about 10,000 post routes and go routes since when I first came into the league, so maybe just a step, a half a step,” Wallace said. “But I can still get it done.”
Like it or not, Wallace has to accept the fact that his overall game has declined since he walked away from the Steelers in 2013 to sign a five-year, $60 million free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins. In fact, not only has his catch rate declined since leaving Pittsburgh, so has his average yards per catch. It wasn’t a bit surprising to see the Minnesota Vikings part ways with Wallace early in the offseason as his 39 catches for 473 and 2 touchdowns that he registered in 2015 certainly didn’t match up to what he is was being paid.
Now with the Ravens, Wallace could see quite a bit of playing time early on during the 2016 regular season as fellow Baltimore wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman are both currently dealing with injuries. Being as Wallace has never been regarded as possession receiver since he arrived in the NFL, he’ll more than likely be asked to stretch the field in Baltimore and hope that his new quarterback Joe Flacco can get him the football consistently down the field the same way Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to do.
“You can do anything with him,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “He goes deep, he comes across, he runs routes [and] has good hands. I think he’s just done a tremendous job as an all-around receiver, and I think he’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing this year.”
Good hands? Ok, whatever you say, John.
Wallace won’t get an opportunity to face the Steelers until Week 9 of the regular season. By then, Wallace might just be an afterthought and especially if Smith and Perriman can remain healthy.
Being as Wallace signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Ravens earlier in the offseason, he’ll need to register more than 40 catches in 2016 in order to see that second year. In other words, the numbers better say that Wallace is better this year and he better have a new set of more reliable hands up his sleeve in addition to finding out a way to reclaim that lost half step.