During the summer of 2012, Mike Wallace was absent for most of the offseason. The Steelers and Wallace’s camp were not able to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, so Wallace decided to play on his $2.7 million first round tender. Right after Mike Wallace supposedly turned down a big deal from the Steelers, they decided to sign Antonio Brown to a 5 year, $42 million deal.
After Brown’s deal, the writing on the wall was quite clear on both fronts, concerning Mike Wallace. To no surprise, Mike Wallace left the Steelers this offseason to sign a huge deal with the Miami Dolphins, making him one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL. I can’t say I can blame Wallace for taking that big deal. What I will say though is that I am glad it wasn’t the Steelers paying him that kind of money.
I was at the point where I was ready to say goodbye to Mike Wallace because quite frankly, he needed to go. Not only was I sick of his ‘me first’ mentality, I was also sick of what he did on the field, or should I say lack of what he did on the field. When Coach Tomlin coined the phrase “one-trick pony” for Wallace, many thought that he was just joking or trying to motivate him. Mike Wallace was a total one trick pony that was a track star in a football uniform. Yes, he took the top off the defense, but exactly what else did he do to help the Steelers win last year?
If you can’t tell already, I am not as big of fan of Mike Wallace as others. The production he had while in the black-and-gold is great, but he would always disappear in the playoffs. One of the few plays he made came in an end around against Denver, which wasn’t even a passing play. You can’t tell me you pay a guy $60 million to disappear from the playoffs. In 2012, when Ben would try to pass to Wallace, it was a safer bet that he would drop it instead of catching the ball. Steelers fans, including myself, became sick and tired of the way Wallace played in 2012.
After Wallace left, the Steelers had even more depth issues at wide receiver. The Steelers feel they partially filled that hole by drafting Markus Wheaton out of Oregon State. I have seen dozens upon dozens of articles saying “Can Markus Wheaton fill Mike Wallace’s shoes?” Or “Is Markus Wheaton the second coming of Mike Wallace?”
I hope not. I think the funniest thing is, other than the fact that both men are fast, and they have the same initials, the two receivers don’t have all that much in common at all. Mike Wallace is faster than Wheaton, but honestly, that’s the only edge I see Wallace having. Wheaton has WAY better hands, he’s a better route runner, he is not afraid to go over the middle, and he is willing to jump up to get the ball. How many times did you see Wallace put his body out there to make a play? You would have to look pretty hard to even find one time. Another area where Wallace struggled and Wheaton excelled in, is run blocking. Wallace does something called “look back blocking” where he is constantly just looking back at the runner, trying to avoid the confrontation of blocking the defender. Markus Wheaton on the other hand is not afraid at all to get in there and get his nose dirty.
Even though Mike Wallace might be a one trick pony, he does that one trick well. I believe he does it about 40 million well, not 60 million. Can Markus Wheaton match the production Wallace has had? I firmly believe that he can and will. Not only will he match what Wallace has done, I truly believe he has what it takes to end up being twice the receiver Wallace was and will be become. Is Markus Wheaton Mike Wallace’s replacement? Not only will Wheaton be his replacement, Wheaton will be seen as an upgrade a season or two from now.
Can Markus Wheaton take on a starting role in the Steelers offense? Let us know in the comments.
For More Steelers:
Follow me on Twitter: @NicktheSteelman
Like Nice Pick Cowher on Facebook