Mike Wallace was supposed to stretch the field, create opportunities for other receivers underneath, and give the Minnesota Vikings their first deep threat since Randy Moss exploded into the NFL 18 years ago. On paper, he was a fit in Minnesota, with the speed to “take the top off a defense” and the production to match — Wallace has 22 career touchdowns of 30 or more yards.
Unfortunately, that pipe dream never materialized for the Vikings, who watched Wallace struggle his way to 39 receptions, 472 yards, and two touchdowns in 2015. Despite general manager Rick Spielman’s insistence that Wallace would mesh well with the Vikings, the wide receiver was clearly a square peg in a round hole.
“Norv’s system is based on speed and having a vertical threat,” Spielman said after the team traded for Wallace before the 2015 season. “By adding him, and CJ and Cordarrelle and [the] Jarius Wrights of the world, those guys are able to stretch the field. We have a young quarterback who is just going to continue to get better, and you saw that improvement out of him as we went through the season and now you add another weapon to the offensive side.”
If Wallace were a weapon in Minnesota, he would’ve been an unloaded gun.
Blame the struggles of the offensive line or Teddy Bridgewater’s inability to push the ball downfield, but the veteran receiver failed as more than just a deep threat. He dropped countless passes on well-thrown curls and comebacks, often putting the Vikings in second or third-and-long situations. Outside of the speed to threaten safeties, Wallace offered nothing to the Vikings, especially in an offense designed to protect the football and maximize limited big-play opportunities.
In Laquon Treadwell, the Vikings have a player who can succeed in ways that Wallace couldn’t. The team’s 2016 first round pick has a chance to come in and change the face of Minnesota’s passing attack, giving Bridgewater options at every level of the defense, from the red zone to the middle of the field.