We Have FootballTuesday, August 07, 2012
Mike Wallace vs. Antonio Brown
For the first time ever, the NFL has made All-22 Coaches Tape available to the public, as part of its Game Rewind package. The Coaches Tape is called "All 22" because it allows us to see all 22 offensive and defensive players in one picture. NFL.com's package provides two shots of each snap, the first from a higher sideline angle and the second from the end zone. We can actually see the safeties, and receivers' full routes. You can't see those things watching the games on T.V.
I took my first crack at the All-22 Tape last night, watching three Steelers games: Week 8 versus New England, Week 15 at San Francisco, and Pittsburgh's Wild Card round loss to the Broncos. I wanted to learn more about Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. Wallace wanted big money this offseason. Brown got it, and the Steelers are letting unsigned holdout Wallace twist in the wind.
I wound up viewing about 225 snaps and 30 targets of Wallace, and 180 snaps and 30-something targets of Brown. (Brown wasn't quite an every-down player, even during his hot stretch run.) And I think the Steelers are going to sorely miss their best offensive weapon, if they continue to play hardball with him.
Though sometimes billed as a one-trick pony deep threat, Wallace beat the defense in the three games on a variety of patterns. He ran comebacks, drags, and screens in addition to fly routes, and regularly looked like the best player on the field. Wallace is a skinny receiver, but he runs well after the catch, and that was particularly evident in the 49ers game. The Broncos primarily used top cornerback Champ Bailey in coverage of Wallace in the playoffs, while Brown squared off with Andre’ Goodman. Denver released Goodman this offseason. Against New England, the Pats consistently placed two to three defenders in Wallace's vicinity. Bill Belichick was worried about him.
I can't speak responsibly to route running because I don't know the play calls and assignments, but Wallace did seem to round off his patterns and freelance on occasion. I think the bottom line is that Wallace got open downfield more than any other Steelers receiver. It's probably safe to say that's a good thing.
Wallace is a dynamic player -- much more so than Brown. I really don't even think it's close between the two. "60 Minutes" keeps the defense on its heels. Because Wallace so often requires two or even three defenders in his area, the field opens up for others. Brown is a good player, a really good receiver who plays at a crisp pace and has earned Ben Roethlisberger's trust. Brown has sure hands and is capable of highlight-reel catches.
But Wallace is a great player. An every-snap difference maker, schooling defenders with the ball in his hands and taking away coverage even when his number isn't called. And here's guessing that's why the Steelers are refusing to trade him.
The Pittsburgh offense won't be the same without him.