For starters, I am a HUGE Mike Wallace fan. I believe that he is the future of the position for the Steelers.
I also believe that at the conclusion of the 2011 NFL season, Hines Ward is going to step down, and the role of leading man in the Steelers WR corp is going to be handed to Wallace.
Wallace brings something to the table that the Steelers have never had. Speed. Yes, I know that Santonio Holmes was fast. But not Mike Wallace fast.
Wallace could very well be the fastest man in the NFL. It is not often that you see Ben Roethlisberger overthrow Wallace. I think the only times it happens is when Roethlisberger throws the ball WAY too early.
That being said, it came as quite the shock to me today when I read that Wallace has set a personal goal of 2,000 receiving yards for the 2011 NFL season.
To put it in perspective, no other WR in the history of the NFL has done that. EVER.
Jerry Rice, in his best year, had 1,848. That was in 1995. That is when he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers, with Steve Young throwing him passes.
That 49ers team played in the West Coast Offense. Rice was the main reason that it worked so well.
Could the Pittsburgh Steelers with Roethlisberger actually have a better year than the 1995, 49ers? Why not?
Even though it is not a popular statement to make, especially here on Bleacher Report, Roethlisberger is every bit as good as the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the NFL. No, he does not have the stats of them, but then again, he is never asked to do what they have to do.
The Steelers have a great running game, meaning that the oppositions safety will not simply be able to double-cover Wallace on every play.
The offensive line of the Steelers has returned Willie Colon, who missed all of last year with a torn Achilles tendon, Maurkice Pouncey returns from his Super Bowl injury and second-round pick Marcus Gilbert will also help a line that most people considered the worst in the NFL last year.
The other thing the Steelers have, that is even better than what the 1995 49ers had, is a great amount of talent at the position that will help Wallace.
Hines Ward is an eventual Hall of Fame player. Though he may not have amazing speed (like he ever has), there are not many men in the NFL with the ability to catch the ball like Ward. He is so good at it, often other teams choose to put their best defensive back on Ward. That would mean Wallace would be going against most teams' second corner.
The Steelers also have two very young, very fast receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. When the Steelers go to the spread formation, many times Wallace is going to be left one-on-one, which is a huge advantage for the Steelers.
With the addition of Jerricho Cotchery in the lineup, the Steelers passing game becomes all the more dangerous.
That means, Wallace does have the most important ingredients to complete the task. A QB that can get him the ball, depth at his position, a great running game and if the offensive line can hold up, the final piece of the puzzle will be in place.
Not to mention an offensive coordinator that loves to throw the football more than Rex Ryan loves feet.
Wallace says, per the Beaver County Times, that his method to reach that goal is actually simple. His average reception over the first two years of his career have been 19.4 (rookie season) and 21.0 (2010).
If Wallace can keep his average at 20.0 yards per game, and have 100 receptions, then he will get to his goal of 2,000 yards.
That means, Wallace would have to have 6.25 receptions per game, and average 125 yards per game.
I won't say it IS going to happen, but I certainly won't say it ISN'T going to happen either. For those of us who believe that the Steelers offense could be every bit as lethal as those of the Patriots, Colts, Packers and Saints, Wallace hitting 2,000 would only solidify our belief.
Either way, it is certainly going to be fun watching how the 2011 NFL season is going to play out.
Good luck, Mike. Steelers Nation is rooting for you.