One of my theories about Mike Wallace's performance this year is that he's been the beneficiary in the past of a quarterback with a unique ability to shed pass rushers and extend plays, and with the arm strength to hit receivers downfield who have broken coverage during that period.
Of course I'm talking about Ben Roethlisberger. "Big Ben" as they call him, because of his size (6'5" 241) and his unique abilities I described above.
I decided to put the theory to the test and compare Mike Wallace's performance in games with Roethlisberger, to his performance in games without Roethlisberger.
Here are the data for the games he's played in his career without Roethlisberger. I excluded his rookie season as a developmental year. "YPT" stands for "yards per target," which, similar to yards per rush, is a measure of receiving efficiency.
YEAR GAMES TARGETS CATCHES YARDS YPC TDs YPT 2010 4 19 9 211 2 2011 1 7 4 82 0 2012 3 22 10 77 0 2013 5 28 15 176 1 TOTAL 13 76 38 546 14.37 3 7.18
Now of course Wallace has played far more games with Roethlisberger than without him, so to get an unbiased comparison, we need to divide his key statistics by the number of games he's played in both situations. Here's what we get:
TARGETS CATCHES YARDS YPC TDs YPT AVG WITHOUT Roethlisberger 5.85 2.92 42.00 14.37 0.23 7.18 AVG WITH Roethlisberger 6.89 4.06 69.94 17.25 0.56 10.15
The above comparison projects to the following figures over 16 games:
With Roethlisberger: 65 catches, 1,119 yards, 17.3 yards per catch, 10.2 yards per target, 9 TDs
Without Roethlisberger: 47 catches, 672 yards, 14.4 yards per catch, 7.2 yards per target, 4 TDs
The latter of those sets of numbers is not unlike that posted by Ted Ginn when he was a starter for the Dolphins.
So, given the somewhat stark difference in the numbers I boldfaced above, we're left with one or both of two possible conclusions here, IMO: 1) a broader conclusion, that Wallace has benefitted from the presence of Ben Roethlisberger simply because Roethlisberger is a better quarterback in general than the ones Wallace has had in Roethlisberger's absence, and/or 2) a narrower conclusion, that, to perform as he has typically in his career, Wallace needs a quarterback with Roethlisberger's unique abilities, one who can extend plays and hit him downfield after he's broken coverage.