Fair or not, the knock on Mike Wallace as an NFL receiver is that he has been a one-trick pony. Few, if any, wideouts can sprint down the sideline faster than Wallace, whose elite speed has defensive backs perpetually on their heels. So if this pony really only has one trick, it’s a useful one to have.
Unfortunately for Wallace, his big-play ability down the field was wasted in Miami, whether it was due to the offensive schemes or quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s inability to consistently throw deep. After averaging 17.2 yards per catch in Pittsburgh, Wallace averaged 12.8 in his two seasons in Miami.
Take last season for example. Wallace was targeted 20 or more yards downfield only 24 times, according to Pro Football Focus. That ranked 21st among NFL receivers. And he caught just six of those passes with one drop.
Wallace has only been here in Minnesota for a brief time, but his early impressions of coordinator Norv Turner’s offense have been favorable.
“It’s a vertical offense [compared to] a short, West Coast offense,” he said. “You go down the field a lot more here, more to what I’m accustomed to.”
While the Vikings didn’t ask Teddy Bridgewater to throw the deep ball a ton during his rookie season, his accuracy on those longer throws improved in the second half of the season, so much that Bridgewater finished in the top 10 in deep accuracy percentage, according to Pro Football Focus.
Wallace said he likes what he has seen from Bridgewater so far this spring, calling the second-year quarterback an “accurate guy” and a “silent killer.”
Bridgewater raved about Wallace’s speed and pointed out during his Wednesday press conference that Wallace was one of the last players who were still out on the practice field, catching passes from the JUGS machine.
“You just have to continue to put the time in. There are days where we stay behind and we complete passes, work on routes that we may have ran in practice that day,” he said. “It’s just putting in that little extra work that’s going to help you do it that next day. It’s just going to continue to help me.”
We only got to watch one practice this week, so it’s impossible to draw any conclusions. But Bridgewater looked Wallace’s way often Wednesday, and Wallace’s leaping grab along the sidelines was one of the day’s highlights.
Wallace, who is lining up at flanker, knows establishing a connection with Bridgewater will take time, but it sounds like they are off to a good start.
“We do a little something extra every day,” he said. “Whatever we didn’t get right on the field, we’ll go out and correct it. Today, we were pretty spot on. Time restrains you from doing certain things right now, so you have to be on and off the field. Every day we do something extra to get better.”