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Wallace is our man

November 12, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

Steelers rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace wasn’t drafted until the third round of the 2009 NFL draft.  He was actually the 10th wide receiver taken in the draft.  That’s right, 10th!  I’ll bet a lot of NFL general managers wish they could have a “do over”.

If you listen to NFL analysts, you’d think that Minnesota’s rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin was the runaway star of the wide receiver class of 2009.  In fact, by listening to them, you’d think that Harvin was the ONLY member of the class.

Admittedly, Harvin has been pretty good in the kick return game.  He has 860 return yards, and is leading all rookies by a long way.  But if we eliminate kick returns and look exclusively at their production as wide receivers, I’d argue that Wallace has been the best in the class so far.  Wallace is in the top 5 in almost all statistical categories among rookie receivers, and he leads in many of them.

Steelers WR Mike Wallace

Steelers rookie WR Mike Wallace

Wallace is tied for 4th in total number of receptions.

Name Team Receptions
Austin Collie IND 32
Percy Harvin MIN 28
Johnny Knox CHI 28
Jeremy Maclin PHI 25
Mike Wallace PIT 25

A more important statistic, in my opinion, is receiving yardage. That statistic shows how effective the receiver has been in actually moving the ball down the field. In this area, Mike Wallace is tops among rookie receivers.

Name Team Yards
Mike Wallace PIT 437
Hakeem Nicks NYG 407
Percy Harvin MIN 369
Austin Collie IND 356
Johnny Knox CHI 340

The reason Wallace has been able to accumulate so many yards is not primarily due to his number of receptions. Rather it is how effective he has been at getting LONG receptions.

To put it simply, Wallace has been much more effective than his rookie peers at burning NFL cornerbacks for long gains.  I projected that this would be the case coming out of Steelers training camp after watching Wallace burn Steelers cornerbacks just about every day.

Wallace leads all rookie wide receivers in receptions of 20 yards or more.

Name Team 20+ yards
Mike Wallace PIT 9
Hakeem Nicks NYG 6
Percy Harvin MIN 6
Mohamed Mossaquoi CLE 6
Jeremy Maclin PHI 4

In fact, Wallace is tied for third in the entire NFL in receptions of 20 yards or more.  That’s pretty impressive for a rookie.

Wallace is also tied With Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin for second in touchdowns among rookie wide receiver with 3. The key difference is that Maclin and Harvin were both 1st round draft picks, while Wallace was a 3rd rounder.

Noticeably absent from all of these lists of rookie statistical leaders is Darius Heyward-Bey, the first wide receiver selected in the draft.  Heyward-Bey has accumulated a whopping 5 receptions for a total of 74 yards.  Way to go, Al Davis!

Mike Wallace has already shown himself to be as good as any rookie wide receiver from the 2009 draft.  His statistics prove that.  He is just another example of the superior scouting of Kevin Colbert and the Steelers organization.

Steeler Nation already knows how good Mike Wallace is.  I just wish that NFL analysts and other “experts” would come to the same realization.  When they do, Mike Wallace will start being included in the discussions about potential  offensive rookie of the year award winners.

Percy Harvin may ultimately win the award, but Mike Wallace won’t make it easy on him.


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Bailey Steelers’ top rookie?

December 18, 2008 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

The Steelers have named linebacker Patrick Bailey as this year’s recipient of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award.  The award is given annually to the team’s top rookie.

Bailey came to the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Duke.  He has been used almost exclusively as a special teams player, and he is tied for third on the team with 12 special teams tackles.

This is great news for Bailey, but I’m not so sure that it is great news for the Steelers.  Does anyone else remember the ecstatic reaction by Steelers’ fans during the draft when we learned that Rashard Mendenhall had fallen to the Steelers in the first round.  Or how about when we learned that Limas Sweed was available in the second round?  He was the “big receiver” that Ben had been begging for.  Then UCLA sack specialist Bruce Davis fell to us in the 3rd round, and former all-american lineman Tony Hills from Texas dropped to us in the fourth round.  Some fans were concerned that we should have addressed the offensive line sooner, but having a player of Hills’ caliber fall to us was yet another blessing in what looked like a great draft.  Then, as if things couldn’t get any better, Dennis Dixon, the quarterback from Oregon who was leading in the Heisman race before suffering an injury, dropped into our laps.

This was going to be a draft for the ages.  Mendenhall and Sweed were going to be instant rookie sensations and provide offensive punch for years to come.  Davis, Humpal and Mundy weren’t expected to contribute much on defense this year, but all were expected to contribute on special teams.  Hills was potentially going to help an offensive line that was full of question marks.  At least that’s what many fans thought would happen.

Fast forward to today, and we see that nothing has worked out quite the way that we thought it would.  Many fans thought that the Steelers would never be able to overcome what was being touted as the NFL’s toughest schedule.  Many projected that if the team finished the year with an 8-8 record, it would be a successful season.  Some fans thought that there was no way the Ben Roethlisberger was going to make it through the season, since the Steelers hadn’t spent all of their draft picks on offensive linemen. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY predicted that the Steelers would be fighting for the top seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Perhaps the only thing that seemed more unlikely at that time was that an undrafted rookie named Patrick Bailey would turn out to be the Steelers’ top rookie. 

Bailey’s award, and the Steelers’ performance this season, just go to show that none of us is particularly good at predicting the future.  But of course, we’ll all do the same thing during the next NFL draft.  We’ll complain when the Steelers don’t select the players that we want them to.  We’ll prophesy doom and gloom when they don’t use their top picks on offensive linemen.  We’ll whine when they inevitably allow some free agent player to leave for greener pastures elsewhere.  But the one thing that very few of us will do is to remember that the Steelers have an uncanny knack for landing on their feet.  They have been consistently competitive for as long as any of us can remember.  Sure, there have been a few bumps in the road, but for the most part, the Steelers have enjoyed tremendous success.  Just imagine if our team were the Browns.  Or the Bengals!  Yuck!

One of the reasons that the Steelers always seem to rise to the occasion is because they get tremendous production from the least likely suspects.  Just look at James Harrison.  And Hines Ward.  And Willie Parker.  And Nate Washington.  And Patrick Bailey.

Now if only the Steelers could learn the secret to getting a similar performance from some of the guys that we all EXPECT to turn in better performances.  You know, guys like like Keith Gary, John Rienstra, Aaron Jones, Kenny Davidson, Huey Richardson, Troy Edwards, Alonzo Jackson, Ricardo Colclough, Willie Reid, Anthony Smith, Limas Sweed, and Bruce Davis.

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A bad Choice

December 06, 2008 By: Admin Category: Players

Before reading this article, you may want to read our Steelers-Cowboys Preview and our Steelers-Cowboys Key Match-ups.  Also, please read about the Steeler-Cowboys Historical Rivalry.

If you were an NFL rookie running back, and were given a choice of teams to make your first NFL start against, which team would you choose?  The Detroit Lions?  That would probably be a good choice.  The Lions porous defense yields 176.9 rushing yards per game.  Yeah, that might be a good debut.  Or how about the Oakland Raiders?  You’d probably rack up a lot of rushing yards, and your team is almost guaranteed to leave with a win.  Maybe you’d choose the Kansas City Chiefs.  They surrender 163.7 rushing yards per game, and you’d probably get the opportunity to outshine Larry Johnson.  Not a bad first start.

Now, if given the opposite choice, and asked which team you WOULDN’T want to make your first NFL start against, which team would it be.  I think that every rookie running back would make the same choice.  The unanimous pick; the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The Steelers are the #1 defense in the NFL.  They are the #1 scoring defense.  #1 against the pass.  #1 against the run.  They lead the league in sacks.  They have the NFL’s leader in interceptions roaming their secondary.  Going against them is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a meat grinder.  Or cutting your tongue out with a pair of scissors.  Or repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a knitting needle.  Or castrating yourself with a dull steak knife.  Or slicing your throat and watching the beautiful red spray splash happily on the wall.  REDRUM!!!!  Ooop, sorry about that.  I forgot to take my medication today, but I’m back now. 

Anyway, as I was saying, facing the Steelers’ defense wouldn’t be fun.  Just ask LaDainian Tomlinson.  The Steelers held him to 57 yards rushing.  Or ask Joseph Addai.  The Steelers held him to 34 yards rushing.  How about Clinton Portis?  51 yards.  Brandon Jacobs?  47 yards.  Willis McGahee?  42 yards.  Fred Taylor?  19 yards.  Starting to get the picture?

The Steelers’ defense hasn’t let a running back rush for 100 yards since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  So a rookie running back making his NFL debut against the Steelers should expect to rush for 12 yards?  13?  Maybe 20 if he’s lucky?

Well, that is exactly the unfortunate situation that Cowboys’ rookie running back Tashard Choice finds himself in.  The Cowboys have made it official that running back Marion Barber will not make the trip to Pittsburgh.  Backup RB Felix Jones is on the injured reserve list.  So starting duties fall to backup backup (you know, the backup’s backup) Tashard Choice.

Rookie RB Tashard Choice

Rookie RB Tashard Choice

Tashard Choice is a 5’10″ rookie RB from Georgia Tech.  He only weighs 208 lbs., but he is a powerful runner.  He’s averaging 4.9 yards per carry.  That’s an impressive number, even for a veteran RB.  His best game came against the Seattle Seahawks, where he gained 57 yards.  Of course, the Seahawks’ defense doesn’t instill fear into anyone.  Against the New York Giants, Choice gained 27 yards.  Yeah, that’s probably the neighborhood he should expect to be in against the Steelers.

All signs indicate that Tashard Choice is a promising young running back.  The Cowboys have high hopes for him.  Unfortunately, he has to make his first NFL start against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Where are the dull steak knives when you need them?

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