2017 film shows Mike Wallace is still a burner

2017 film shows Mike Wallace is still a burner

Remember the offseason before the 2016 season?

Howie Roseman was making major moves, among them moving up to pick Carson Wentz, but he was also trying to find some cheap speed at the receiver position. The Eagles drafted Nelson Agholor the year before, but Agholor had a disappointing rookie season and the Eagles simply needed to get faster at the position. They really missed DeSean Jackson after Chip Kelly released him. 

So Roseman went out that offseason and signed T.J. Graham and Chris Givens. Two cheap and fast veterans. But neither had anything to give. Neither made the team. Then Roseman traded for Dorial Green-Beckham and claimed Bryce Treggs. Both spent the 2016 season on the roster but never really gave the Eagles that deep threat. It appeared the Eagles would have to pay a little more for their speed. 

Last offseason, Roseman did that, when he signed Torrey Smith to a little heftier contract (the Eagles also signed Alshon Jeffery, who offered more than speed). Smith was just alright and certainly wasn’t worth a $5 million cap hit in 2018, so he’s gone. The good news for the Eagles is that Agholor has grown into an important player who offers speed from the slot, but they still wanted some more outside, which explains the signing of Mike Wallace. Wallace is 31 but might still have something left in the tank. 

Since he entered the NFL, Wallace has 26 catches of 50-plus yards, second during that span to the 36 put up by DeSean, whose absence sent the Eagles looking for speed this whole time (see 10 random Wallace stats).

And if you’re worried that Wallace will be 32 by the start of the season, it’s a valid fear. But in 2017 with the Ravens, he still had the burners working. Wallace had three catches of 50-plus yards; the Eagles as a team had seven. 

Here’s a look at Wallace’s speed with Baltimore last year. We’ll look at all three 50-yard catches: 

There really isn’t much to this. This is the first play of the game from the Ravens-Raiders game in Oakland on Oct. 8. This is the first play from scrimmage; Doug Pederson isn’t the only coach who likes to take his shots. 

Just after the snap, Wallace uses a little stutter step. All he needs is for the corner to hesitate for a split second or get off balance and then he has him where he wants him. Now it’s off to the races. 

After 12 yards, Wallace has more than a step on the DB and Joe Flacco is letting it rip. The safety notices this, but he’s going to be too late getting over. This one goes for a gain of 52 yards down the sideline. 

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This next play actually happens later in the Raiders game. Wallace is circled. He’s not going to do anything fancy on this; just gonna turn on the burners. 

At this point, the Raiders’ DB picks up Wallace after he bursts off the line. But the corner gets turned sideways and Wallace goes right past him. The defender thought he had help, but the safety gets caught looking upfield, ready to drive on a short play. Not much help. 

By the time the safety realizes he needs to help, he's caught flat-footed and looking upfield. Wallace burns both defensive backs on this play for a 54-yarder. 

If Flacco hits Wallace in stride, this is an easy touchdown. But the ball is a tad underthrown and Wallace has to wait for it. 

This next play came in early December against the Lions. It’s a little different from the other two because Wallace is lined up in the slot. The Eagles probably won’t ask him to go in the slot a ton because that’s Nelson Agholor’s spot, but Pederson isn’t averse to moving his receivers around. So if Wallace ever finds himself in the slot, we know what he can do. 


The Ravens use a play action, which freezes the linebacker nearest Wallace. The safety doesn't seem to bite, but it doesn’t matter. Wallace simply splits the center of the field, which leaves the deep safety as the only man to beat. He doesn’t have much trouble. 

This play doesn’t finish in the end zone, but it is a 66-yard gain that gets the Ravens down to the 1-yard line. They punch it in on the next play. 

Wallace might have been 31 last year, but he still had his speed. He averaged 14.4 yards per catch and still was a threat to catch the deep ball. This signing works if he can still do that in 2018. 

Chris Long hints at decision on whether to return to Eagles

Chris Long hints at decision on whether to return to Eagles

It seems like Chris Long is going to be back with the Eagles in 2018 — at least he’s leaning that way. 

The Eagles gave Long a significant raise for next season, increasing his base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million guaranteed, but Long was still reportedly thinking about walking away (see story)

After all, money probably isn’t going to be the only deciding factor for a guy who gave all of his salary away last season. 

But after less than a day of speculation, Long’s Waterboys charity had an event in St. Louis on Wednesday night and the veteran defensive end was asked about his future in the NFL. 

“For me, at my age, every year is important to make a decision and to take self-inventory,” Long said. “Is your body there, is your mind in it, do you have the passion? Because it takes a lot. For me, every year I’m one year at a time from here on out. For however long I play. Philly’s been awesome, like I said. They kind of adopted me like family, so that definitely factors into everything. The chance to repeat. 

“I’m still supposedly mulling it over, but I’m leaning on going back and playing. So yeah. I mean, I hadn’t even answered any questions about that, but there you go.”

Here’s the video, clipped by Bleeding Green Nation, to hear Long say it for himself: 

Long will turn 33 on March 28 and clearly has plenty going on outside of football, so it wouldn’t be shocking if the former first-round pick decided to walk away. But if he did, the Eagles would clearly miss him. 

During the 2017 season, Long picked up five sacks in a limited role and helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, a year after helping the Patriots win Super Bowl LI. If Long does indeed return to the Eagles this season, he has a chance to make it three in a row. 

Why new NFL 'catch rule' proposal won't end controversy

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Why new NFL 'catch rule' proposal won't end controversy

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron unveiled a proposal Wednesday that could potentially simplify the controversial "catch rule."

But unless the league also addresses the way instant replay is used to enforce any catch rule — new or existing — problems will persist.

Riveron solicited input from current and former players, coaches and executives on a stripped-down version of the rule after dissatisfaction with the current legislation reached an all-time high in 2017. If approved by the NFL Competition Committee, unpopular language such as "survive the ground" would be rendered archaic, and 654 words defining a catch would be reduced to fewer than 40.

The committee meets next week, when the following recommendations to determine a completed forward pass will face formal scrutiny.

1. Control

2. Two feet down or another body part

3. A football move such as:

  1. a third step
  2. reaching/extending for the line-to-gain
  3. or their ability to perform such an act

As long as you can ignore the fact that two of the rule's foundations — control and a football move — are abstract ideas and subject to interpretation, it's a fine enough rubric. Erring on the side of incisiveness probably isn't a bad idea when you're talking about a routine human action, such as catching an item.

Riveron's proposal would seemingly eliminate replay reversals such as Jesse James' non-catch, when a Steelers touchdown was overturned because the football shifted when the tight end lunged to the ground. James' and similar plays where the ball shifted subtly were considered the tipping point for those demanding a rule change.

So, surviving the ground is allegedly addressed, though even that is up for debate. Just wait until officials must rule on whether a receiver "trapped" the ball in the process of making the catch.

There are still millions of tiny movements that can occur in the moments between when a ball makes contact with a person's hands and when possession is established, many indecipherable by the naked eye.

Replay, on the other hand, ensures we will see every minute detail just fine.

The real issue has never been the catch rule. It was imperfect, just as any rule that replaces it will be because two different people can watch slow-motion footage and arrive at two different conclusions as to when control is established. The ball shifts and moves and rolls and bobbles all the time while completing a catch, perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally, which even video doesn't always render clear.

The real issue is the use of these replays to scan for every possible imperfection during the process of the catch, then change what once might've been mundane calls on the field. Until this is addressed, the NFL will only subject itself to more controversy.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Unless the call is blatantly wrong, replay shouldn't result in a reversal, exactly as the system always intended.

The league could've applied this policy to plays such as James' apparent non-catch, declaring the video evidence as "inconclusive" — which it was, based on the existence of any debate — and upholding the call on the field. Instead, the decision was made to over-litigate the game through the use of replay.

Until the NFL follows its existing rules, a new catch rule isn't going to solve anything.