Mike Wallace was not shy about explaining why things didn’t work out in Minnesota. He flat-out blamed Teddy Bridgewater.
In March 2016, he said: “I need a good quarterback. I need a quarterback who has proven he can get things done.”
Wallace is a pure deep threat, similar to DeSean Jackson or Michael Floyd. But that didn’t exactly fit with Bridgewater, who thrived on intermediate throws to receivers more skilled in precise route running like Stefon Diggs.
Trashing Bridgewater was hardly Wallace’s first faux pas in the NFL. He landed in Minnesota because he refused to take the field in Miami’s final game in 2014.
After a 39-catch season with the Vikings, it appeared his time as a top receiver might be over, but Wallace has mostly thrived with the Ravens. He grabbed 72 passes last season and has 15 this year – two of which went for over 50 yards.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore media Wednesday that it was important not to judge Wallace based on his history.
“Maybe it is a good lesson for all of us in life – this idea of judging people and things and circumstances, especially from afar when you have never met the person before or you have never been in their shoes or you don’t know what they are dealing with,” Harbaugh said.
“Mike Wallace has been nothing but a leader, he has been nothing but positive and nothing but energetic,” Harbaugh added. “I love when he walks out to practice. He pumps me up. He is confident, and he wants the ball and he wants to play. But when things don’t go well, he is the biggest supporter of just improving and having each other’s back.”
Wallace did draw some negative attention early in the season for saying “I need the rock” after catching two passes in the first two games. Since his Keyshawn Johnson-esque statement, quarterback Joe Flacco has obliged, throwing 18 passes in Wallace’s direction over the last three weeks.
“Receivers are very confident people, and that’s the way they get themselves going,” Flacco told the Baltimore media. “Mike’s a great, great locker room guy. Any of that stuff, in terms of being a diva – no, not at all. Mike’s great; he’s a ton of fun. He’s out here [at practice] catching touchdowns, throwing the ball up against the pads over there. That’s just who he is; it’s how he gets himself going. We love it. So no, I love Mike, and the opinion that I formed of him has been nothing but good.”
When Flacco has thrown in Wallace’s direction, he is averaging 8.8 yards per attempt. When passing the ball toward any other receiver, Flacco’s yards per attempt drops to just 4.8 per throw. Sufficed to say, the Vikings’ secondary will have to emphasize slowing down their former teammate.
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