In 2015, Mike Wallace was released by the Minnesota Vikings and faced a crossroads. The Baltimore Ravens took a chance on the speedy wideout, and signed him to a 2-year, $11.5 million contract, and Wallace would respond in a big way in 2016. He finished the season with 72 receptions, 1,017 yards, and 4 touchdowns, having his best season since his days in Pittsburgh.
This season, however, he started out rather differently. The first three games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Jacksonville Jaguars, he was only able to nab one reception in each game for only 21 yards. Not only that, the Ravens receivers outside of Jeremy Maclin were held at bay.
Part of it is the Ravens commitment to run the football, but the other side is an anemic and ineffective offense with a struggling quarterback and a porous offensive line that contributed to the teams two losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Baltimore, eventually, was going to have to get the receivers not named Maclin to step up, and that started with getting the football to Wallace. Over the last two weeks, the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco made it a priority to get the 1,000-yard receiver the football.
Against the Steelers and Oakland Raiders, Wallace was able to notch nine receptions for 188 yards and touchdown, including contributing greatly in the Ravens 30-17 win in Oakland. Flacco spoke during the week that he had to get ball out quicker and the offense led off the game with a 52-yard pass to Wallace. It was a play which set up Baltimore's opening drive touchdown, and Wallace knew it was coming to him the day before. He stated during the postgame:
"I just knew last night when I saw this play call, if we get this play I knew it would be on me to start the game off. It was going to be a snowball effect. I just had thoughts like that last night. Then we came out and caught them on the first play. Wish I would've scored."
Wallace wasn't done after the first play, as Flacco would connect deep with Wallace again on a 54-yard pass which set up a Ravens field goal. They even connected on a key 3rd-and-8 for 27 yards to the Raiders 47-yard line. That drive also resulted in a Justin Tucker field goal to give Baltimore a 27-17 lead. The Flacco and Wallace connection was a big part of the Ravens offense last year, and Flacco is at his best when he is connecting with a receiver like Wallace.
Baltimore needed him to get going in the worst way, and they must continue to get Wallace the ball by any means necessary to help this offense improve as the season moves along, despite the injuries all around the unit. Now that Wallace has joined the party with Maclin, they now have to do the same with Breshad Perriman.