Is Steelers’ Wallace the top deep threat in the NFL?

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Let’s take a look at the vertical passing game today and focus on Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace running the 9 (fade) route vs. the Cardinals. A 95-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger out of Tank personnel (1 WR, 2 TE, 2 RB) vs. Cover 3.

Check out the replay and then we will break down the “OVS” (Outside Vertical Stretch) route concept.

– What is the OVS? The “outside vertical stretch” (can also be called a “sail” route) is a three-level combination route: 9-7 (corner)-flat. Here, we see the FB offset in a ‘Strong I” formation so he has a clear release to the flat with the TE on the 7 and Wallace on the 9 route.

– Why does Roethlisberger target Wallace? Go back to the replay and check out the technique of the strong (closed) side CB, Richard Marshall. The Cardinals’ CB puts his eyes in the backfield on play action, stops his feet and tries to recover with a “bail” technique (open hips to the field). Can’t do that vs. the vertical speed of Wallace.

– Earlier this season, I broke down Wallace in the vertical game vs. the Colts' Tampa 2. Different concept–but the same result. Flip the field and get a quick score. And I don't have any problem calling him the top deep threat in the NFL right now. A WR that can test the top of any defensive scheme you throw out there.

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