We are on the cusp of free agency madness right now. Much of the FA talk around these parts centers on Mike Wallace. The Steelers receiver is rumored to be on the Vikings’ radar screens. Why should the Vikings go after Wallace? Here are five reasons.
1. He is fast.
Speed is never a bad thing to have in your receiver corps. The Vikes already have Percy Harvin (as of right now anyway) and Jarius Wright. Add Wallace to the mix and you have one of the fastest receiving units in the league. The Vikes play indoors now and will again in a couple years when they have their new stadium, and it makes sense to take advantage of that fast track by having speedy receivers who can put pressure on defenses.
2. He is a home run threat.
What crucial element did the Vikings’ offense lack last year? A genuine home run hitter at receiver. Percy Harvin is a great receiver but he’s not a threat to get behind the defense on any given play and hit the proverbial long ball. The Vikings’ offense, ideally, is about softening up the defense with the run and then hitting them deep. That’s how it’s really supposed to work. Run run run and then kill them with the play action deep. But you need a guy who can consistently get open downfield and give you that ability. Wallace fell off in production some in 2012 but in the years before that he showed he could be that home run threat.
3. He will take some of the load off Adrian Peterson.
AD was brilliant last year, carrying the team all the way into the playoffs almost single-handed. Great as AD is though, there is a limit to how much work load you can place on his shoulders. It’s fun to think of him as this super-human beast but that is of course not accurate. Peterson is human as we all learned when he tore his ACL two years ago. He is great but you can only ride him so far. The Vikes need more offensive weapons around Peterson. Take a little of the load off him and spread that around. He will last longer and ultimately be more productive.
4. The Vikings need to get past their reputation as a boring pop-gun offense.
Adrian Peterson gave the fans a great show last year. But despite Peterson’s weekly challenging of history, fans seemed to often get bored with the offense. The atmosphere at Metrodome was often sort of listless and that goes right to the lack of a passing game. Maybe it’s sad but fans don’t appreciate great running and good defense as much as they should. Fans want the high-wire passing. They want the deep balls. They want points. They want the 1998 Vikings. To get that, or at least closer to that, you must have at least one legit downfield receiver. You must have the Randy Moss factor in the offense. Wallace isn’t as great as prime Moss obviously, but he’s the closest thing out there to that. He’s got the speed and the deep threat reputation to make defenses react, opening up the whole offense and allowing you to have some more of that dynamic, fun element to your attack.
5. He would help shut up the Ponder nuts.
We heard the same refrain over and over last year. Christian Ponder’s not the problem! It’s the receivers! I concede that the lack of outside receivers was an issue last year. Yes Ponder would’ve been helped out by having a legit downfield threat in the arsenal. Ponder himself contributed to his own issues with tentative, sometimes downright dumb quarterback play, but let’s overlook that for the time being. Right now we’re focusing on the receivers. Everyone knows the Vikes must upgrade at the position. You can argue they should use the draft and lower-cost free agents to get the job done, along with extending Percy Harvin of course, but the point either way is, they must get better talent at receiver.
So let’s say the Vikes manage to keep Harvin and make him happy, plus add Wallace, plus add a nice receiver through the draft. And you have Jarius Wright and a good tight end in Kyle Rudolph. That would give Ponder enough weapons to be successful. That would basically take away that whole “It’s the receivers, dummy” argument. So if Ponder still struggled, at least the people who are in the tank for Ponder would not be able to repeat that same crap all season. It’s worth signing Wallace just so I don’t have to hear that again all year. Of course the Ponder people will still have their “the pass protection sucks” and their “Bill Musgrave sucks” refrains. But that’s just how that works. People who are in the tank for a certain player will always have their mantras. They’re good at mindlessly saying the same crap over and over.