Greg Jennings performed decently, but still did not live up to his contract. Charles Johnson was a nice surprise who showed a lot of potential but would disappear at times during games. Cordarrelle Patterson took a step backwards in his development and ultimately lost his starting job to Johnson. Jarius Wright was a good slot receiver who had the ability to make big plays but was only on the field for about half of the Vikings offensive snaps in 2014. And Adam Thielen rarely saw the field on offense but thrived as a special teams player.
This offseason, the Vikings decided to part ways with Greg Jennings right after they traded with Miami for Mike Wallace. Wallace has proven he has the ability to be a No. 1 receiver and a deep threat.
While he has tremendous talent, he also comes with a couple red flags. Last season there were reports that Wallace had taken himself out of games because he was unhappy with how he was being used in the offense.
Viking Update took a lot at the good and the bad of Mike Wallace from 2014, with the help of the All-22 film, to see what the Vikings got in their new acquisition.
Play No. 1This first play is one that Vikings fans remember all too well. The Vikings were ahead 17-7 and the Dolphins were driving and in the red zone. Wallace was battling with Xavier Rhodes throughout his route and, even though it was tight coverage, Ryan Tannehill still threw Wallace the ball.
Rhodes originally tipped the ball, but Wallace was still able to gain control and stay in bounds. After securing the ball he was able to twist his body and leap into the end zone for a touchdown.
This play emphasizes Wallace’s ability to create plays. Rhodes made a good play on the ball defensively, but Wallace was still able to come away with a touchdown. Adding that kind of ability to the Vikings offense should ultimately improve the play of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Play No. 2This next play is one that showcases Wallace’s speed. He begins the play as the lone receiver lined up at the bottom of the screen. All he does is run straight down the field and he is able to get behind the defense.
This play could have easily gone for a touchdown, but Tannehill underthrew Wallace. This then forced him to have to slow up and still make the catch, even with defenders coming at him from two different directions.
This can be hard for a receiver to do because they have to change their speed and maintain focus on the ball with defenders bearing down on them. But Wallace was able to do it flawlessly, and he was able to protect himself by side-stepping out of bounds before getting hit.
The speed that Wallace is able to posses gives Bridgewater a deep threat that should be able to get open downfield on a regular basis. Bridgewater struggled hitting open receivers deep down the field toward the beginning of the year but improved that aspect of his game as the year went on. If these two are able to connect, the Vikings should be able to put points on the board in a hurry.
Play No. 3This play is another touchdown scored by Wallace. The Dolphins were down inside the red zone and Wallace performed a simple out-route in end zone. He gets open, and whether by design or as a poorly thrown ball Tannehill throws the ball low.
Wallace is then forced to go down to catch the ball. It was not an easy catch that he was forced to make because all of his momentum was carrying him towards the sideline, which was already close. But Wallace was able to go down to his knees, stay in bounce, and secure the catch for a touchdown.
The Vikings have not had a good red zone threat on the field on a consistent basis for some time. They have tight end Kyle Rudolph, but injuries have limited his availability.
Wallace may not have the size that most red zone threats have, but he has the ability to work the sidelines really well. This means that if Bridgewater is able to get the ball to him accurately on the sidelines, he will be very hard for defensive backs to defend.
Play No. 4This next play is another one that shows Wallace’s ability inside the red zone. From the start of the play he gets jammed at the line of scrimmage. Wallace is then forced to fight his way free and gets open enough for Tannehill to find him in the middle of the end zone.
If Wallace brings the same type of effort he puts into this play to Minnesota, then good things should happen on the Vikings defense. There have been red flags surrounding him about his work ethic, but this play shows that Wallace is still willing to put in the effort required to make a play happen.
Play No. 5There are many times, especially in the red zone, that a receiver will have to go up and compete for the ball against the defender. In this play, Wallace is forced to do just that and shows that he has the ability to come down with the ball.
Not only is Wallace able to catch the ball at its highest point, but he is able to use his body to shield the defender, too. Wallace may not be the biggest receiver on the field, but by doing both of these things he is able to come down with the ball, even when contested closely by a defender.
Having a receiver with this ability will help Bridgewater because it should give him confidence throwing to Wallace even in tight coverage. Some of the Vikings receivers struggled getting open in 2014, forcing Bridgewater to hold onto the ball too long and take sacks. If he trusts his receivers can come down with the ball even in tight coverage, Bridgewater will be able to deliver a pass and take less sacks.
Play No. 6However, even though Wallace makes good plays, there are occasional mistakes. In this play, the pass was a little behind Wallace but he was still able to make the catch. But once he turned around, he got hit almost immediately and coughed that ball up.
There are multiple receivers that are able to hold onto the football when hit almost simultaneously, but Wallace was not able to in this play. It may have only been a single instance in this case, but if it happened once it could very well happen again.
All receivers have to cross over the field at one point or another and get their hands dirty. If Wallace is not able to hold onto the ball while taking a direct hit things could go bad quickly, especially considering how costly turnovers can be to a team.
Luckily for the Vikings, there were not too many cases of Wallace turning the ball over, meaning that fumble over the middle may have been an exception rather than norm.
The skillset that Wallace brings to the table is one of a playmaking wide receiver. The only thing to worry about is seemingly whether or not Wallace will have an issue with how he used. But if the Vikings are able to win games, most problems should be solved.