(Photo by NJ.com)
In his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, receiver Mike Wallace averaged 1010 yards and 17.2 yards per catch, a true symbol that defines his speed instead of his reported 4.33 40-yard dash. After coming off a slightly disappointing but productive 862-yard fifteen-game season in 2012, Wallace cashed in free agency with the Miami Dolphins before heading into a territory of uncertainty.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was a younger promising quarterback that came off a 12:13 touchdown-to-interception ratio rookie year where the Dolphins finished 7-9. Except, with an element of his game left uncorrected, Wallace was set to struggle.
Tannehill averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt and completed no passes over 40 yards in 2013. The two had some rocky times complemented with some highlights. But with Tannehill set to average the same yards per attempt for the next two years and conflicts occurring with then head coach Joe Philbin, the veteran receiver was finished in South Florida. He along with a seventh-round draft pick was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a fifth-round pick. However, when you would think that the Vikings would learn history before repeating it, a carbon copy of Wallace’s Dolphins career and more bleakness took place in the Twin Cities.
Similar to Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater was coming off a rookie season where the Vikings finished 7-9 and had a 14:12 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but was flawed with downfield throws. He averaged just 7.3 yards per attempt and only completed one of ten passes for over 40 yards in 2014. With Wallace being used to Ben Roethlisberger completing 33.3 percent of the same passes in their last year together, Wallace’s days in Pittsburgh look more like a distant memory.
From 2013 to 2015, he averaged just 12.7 yards per catch and 755 yards per season (896 with the Dolphins). His state of football hell was so bleak at one point in Minnesota, he not only failed to achieve 500 yards receiving (473 in 2015) but was only involved in the offense 7.5 percent of the time.
Once Blair Walsh ended the Vikings season with a 27-yard field goal miss, Wallace’s career in Minnesota concluded too. He was left with little to no offers until the Baltimore Ravens came calling. Luckily for him, he was given a contract with a $3.5 million salary in 2016, and even luckier to have a union with a quarterback that could suit his strengths.
Known for having a big arm since his days at the University of Delaware, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has helped many of the league’s fastest pass catchers become more visible in real time. Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and even tight end Todd Heap have caught between 14 and 18 yards per catch, and with Flacco needing a deep threat after Breshad Perriman’s health was left in question, Wallace has not only benefited but improved Flacco’s vertical passing game.
Throughout his career, Flacco has never completed more than 31.3 percent of his passes for over 40 yards. With Wallace currently, he completing an unbelievable 42.9 percent of such passes and it helps that Wallace is tied for the second-most plays of at least 40 yards in the NFL, five.
With him being 16 yards away from reaching his first 1000-yard season in five years, it will be a special moment for someone whose potential was likely ruled out unfairly. But it will not be as special as it will be for a player that could be playing his final NFL game after being doubted his whole life and might be bound for the Hall of Fame, Wallace’s running mate Steve Smith.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Posts Perfect Passer Rating
Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback continues to make a strong argument for MVP honors this season, and Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals only strengthened his case.
Jackson became the second player in NFL history to produce a perfect passer rating (158.3) in multiple games in a single season, joining Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who accomplished the feat twice back in 2007.
Jackson posted a perfect rating in the Ravens’ season opening victory against the Miami Dolphins, becoming the sixth player in league history to post perfect ratings in multiple career games.
Jackson fueled the Ravens’ rout of the winless Bengals on Sunday, a game that resulted in a 49-13 final score.
“I’m a quarterback at the end of the day,” Jackson said, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “I want to prove that each and every day I go out and practice. I treat it like it’s a game. If I miss a pass at practice, I’m ticked off.”
“I mean, jeez, you go out there and he’s whipping the ball and putting it in awesome spots,” Ravens tight end Nick Boyle said. “You saw his awesome passes today. That’s something he can do that people don’t think he can do or didn’t think he could do. That’s what makes him so dangerous. He could do everything.”
Jackson entered the 2019 season with plenty of questions regarding if he could be the long-term NFL quarterback for the Ravens, given his style of play.
Jackson has answered those questions, and then some.
“He’s one of the most exciting players I’ve ever seen,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. “(He’s) dynamic. I’m interested to see what teams do down the road here to stop him, because he certainly is hitting on all cylinders right now.”
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Ravens’ Earl Thomas Celebrates Victory Over Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas was extra motivated when playing his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday, and the victory over Seattle meant a little bit more than a normal regular season win.
Thomas spent his first nine seasons with the Seahawks, including their Super Bowl championship back in 2014, but had a rather sour departure from the team, highlighted by a rift with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
Thomas and the Ravens won the game 30-16 at CenturyLink Field.
“I definitely came in here with a purpose, and we got it done,” Thomas said following the game, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
While Thomas had his issues with his former head coach, he has the utmost respect for his former teammate, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has the same respect for Thomas.
“I hold Earl in high regard, man,” Wilson said. “I really love him. Just how much he’s meant to my family, his family and everything else, and what that means and then also just to the Seahawks organization and what he’s meant … he played really good today, he played great, he was battling out there, back-and-forth … Earl’s one of the best to ever do it.”
Throughout the game Thomas could be seen talking trash to the Seahawks sideline.
“You knew I was going to say something,” Thomas said. “I definitely said what I had to say. It was between me and them.”
Thomas played a big part in keeping the Seahawks offense in check, chipping in five tackles of his own, in an impressive, and convincing victory.
“Earl had a great game,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “And it meant a lot to Earl. Earl didn’t have much to say. He just wanted to go ‘do.’ I think he played great. No big plays. Nothing over the top, Earl and Chuck both. Earl was back there, patrolling the back end. A couple of critical tackles. I mean, sometimes you forget about the safety when he’s doing his job so well.”
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Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Says ‘I hate running’; I’d rather pass
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson worked all offseason to change the perception of him that he is a running quarterback, intent on changing the narrative about his style of play and vowing that he would be running less.
Three games into the season and Jackson is showing his preference of throwing as opposed to taking off for a run.
“I hate running,” Jackson said, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “Only if I have to, but my job is to get the ball to the receivers, the tight ends, running backs. If I have to run, I’ll do it, but I’d rather just sit back and pass it. I like throwing touchdowns instead of running them.”
Thus far this season, Jackson is averaging 33 passes and just nine rushes per game, which is a considerable drop from his 17 carries per game during his rookie season.
Jackson did tuck the ball and run for a score during Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but he insists that running the ball was his only option on the play.
“I only could run it. There was no one open,” Jackson said. “I had to make him miss. I’m one-on-one. I like my chances over anyone one-on-one.
Currently, Jackson is on pace for over 900 yards on the ground, and his ability to create highlight-reel runs often amazes his teammates.
“He’s wild, man. He’s amazing,” Ravens’ running back Mark Ingram said. “I don’t think there is anything like him in the league, as far as just extending plays and being able to juke defenders. He’s special. He can extend plays and buy time for us to get open, receivers to get open, or him take off and run at the last resort and juke people, spin around people, make people fall.”
But even more impressive than his production on the ground has been Jackson’s improvement as a passer, and he carries a 113.9 passer rating s the Ravens enter their Week 4 tilt against the division-rival Cleveland Browns.
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