On a weekly basis during the summer I will be giving you something to keep an eye on during the Miami Dolphins training camp which thankfully is less than a week away.
When the Dolphins made wide receiver Mike Wallace the biggest free agent catch of the offseason, the expectation was that the former Pittsburgh Steeler would provide the big down-the-field plays that Miami has lacked since a guy named Duper was catching laser beams from that slightly more famous Marino guy.
That’s more than fair considering Wallace has 67 receptions of over 20 years in just four seasons. However what may be just as important to get from Wallace is opening up the field for another receiver, especially on underneath routes, and having a positive impact on the running game.
How? Let me explain.
If Wallace runs a good number of downfield routes at full speed even if he knows he isn’t getting the ball, then he forces the cornerback to give him a substantial cushion regardless of the coverage (either man or zone). Furthermore, the defense will likely have to roll a safety over to Wallace’s side to help the corner. This opens the possibilities of an underneath route in the middle of the field to a tight end such as Dustin Keller or perhaps a slot receiver such as Brandon Gibson or Armon Binns. It also opens up a screen or bubble route in the flat at times.
Now if those routes aren’t available during camp and the preseason Miami could have one of the following problems. Wallace could not be consistently “selling” the deep route by taking plays off. Ryan Tannehill could be struggling with his progression reads in locking on to his primary receiver which will probably be Wallace or Hartline (Two receivers that typically work the sidelines).
Finally, the slot receiver or tightend could have trouble shaking the nickel corner or linebacker in coverage. Although that seems unlikely given Keller’s pedigree and the potential of Gibson and Binns.
As for the running game, Wallace will have a positive impact if he can move that extra defender “out of the box” with his speed. Simply put Lamar Miller is going to have an easier time running the football if only seven or eight defenders are on or near the line of scrimmage instead of nine or ten.
All of which makes the “Wallace Effect” worth watching.