On Sunday, Mike Wallace returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since signing a five-year, $60 million deal with the Dolphins this offseason. The speedy wide receiver spent his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers, the first three of which he put up some eye-popping numbers in Bruce Arians' offense. But after the Steelers' front office forced Arians out and replaced him with Todd Haley, Wallace's production fell off a cliff (relatively speaking, anyway) in 2012.
And that -- along with the money -- likely had a lot to do with Wallace relocating to Miami.
“I think it was a little bit of a challenge for [Haley] to use me,” Wallace said Wednesday, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It was (his) first year, and I wasn't in training camp, and he got a chance to see other guys and what they were able to do.”
While Wallace wasn't nearly as effective last season as he had been during his first three years in Pittsburgh, he managed 73 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. Still, he concedes that the transition from Arians to Haley wasn't easy.
“It was a different scheme,” Wallace said. “Our scheme with (former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) was a lot more vertical than Coach Haley, and obviously that was my strength. My numbers were a little bit better with B.A.”
Last December, Wallace even admitted that he lost focus at times. "The toughest thing is staying positive through three quarters because you're not going to get the ball every time," he said at the time. "You have to be ready to deliver when it comes your way. That's been the biggest thing I've had to learn."
Through 12 games this season, Wallace has just 56 receptions for 743 yards and three touchdowns but Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is happy with what he's seen from the 27-year-old wide receiver.
“He's been a great addition,” the coach said. “It's been a work in progress, but I think he is having a good season. He is starting to get the ball in the end zone, and we hope that continues. He has been a great asset.”