Turn on the news. Any channel really and you are likely to hear depressing news. Hell even the entertainment news channels will start off their shows by tag-lining their breaking news about a celebrity arrest or DUI. When it comes to selling the news, bad news and controversy sell. Is it human nature? It’s the concept of slowing down to look at the wreck and backing up traffic. You don’t want to see someone dead but deep down your disappointed when it’s not as bad as it first appeared.
It’s the same with sports and you don’t have look to far to find out that it’s alive and well in Miami. The media is trying to sell papers and stirring up whatever they can is a sure way to get your product off the shelf. Case in point, Miami Dolphins WR Michael Wallace and QB Ryan Tannehill. Is there a problem between Miami’s 2nd year QB and his new number one WR? No, but that’s not what some want you to believe.
There are some in the local media that want to press the issue of why Wallace was on the field for Friday nights pre-season game against Jacksonville and ended the night with no targets. So much so that they seem to keep asking the question to Wallace and to Tannehill. Why didn’t you throw to Mike? Mike how do you feel about not getting the ball thrown to you? These kind of questions serve no purpose. Especially in pre-season. It only serves to create a little bit of controversy.
On the Sun-Sentinel Dave Hyde is probably one of the best beat writers in South Florida. Yet while answering readers Emails regarding the game, Hyde took a step in the direction of questioning the situation. When asked “What was Tannehill looking at on Friday, he didn’t throw to Wallace?” Hyde responded with “Here’s what he wasn’t looking at: Mike Wallace. We can throw up all the qualifiers – preseason game, line problems, etc … – but this is a head-scratcher.”
He continued to talk about how Friday night could have been a special night for young QB and his new WR but he really didn’t give any reasons as to why Tannehill didn’t actually throw to Wallace. In fact he didn’t even give a guess to why. What he did bring up was the rookie corner on coverage and a deep safety. On the surface it would seem like that is a pretty good reason to throw the ball to that receiver. Hyde briefly mentioned the “qualifiers” but quickly pointed them out as reasons he could have thrown the ball to the big speedy WR.
In reality, the line play was a reason why Tannehill couldn’t throw to Wallace. In fact in the first three series, Tannehill had little time to do much of anything. By the time he began to hit his stride, Wallace was sitting on the side.
Hyde is a smart reporter down there and I am not saying he is the one starting to wrangle a little controversy but it’s a mentality that others down there embrace. The longer that Wallace and Tannehill don’t connect the more pressure from the media to find out why. The more they press for an answer the more they will get the team first answers from the players and that will eventually be spun into a full blown “What’s going on with Tannehill/Wallace” story.
When asked about the rookie corner and one over safety, Wallace had this to say as reported by Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel:
“I always get excited about that, start licking my chops,” Wallace said when asked about aggressive coverage. “But a lot of things aren’t exactly how they’d seem. They come out and it might look single-high, but it is not going to look like that as soon as the ball is snapped. They are going to bail out for the most part.
“It is a little different for me,” Wallace said of the aggressive defensive coverage, which has often led to big plays for him in Pittsburgh. “Any time I see it I get geek-ed up. I honestly haven’t seen it in a while. Certain teams do it, but for the most part I don’t see that [coverage] too often. Maybe when we played the Jets they would let [Antonio] Cromartie and [Darrelle] Revis do it.”
For the two at the center of the issue it’s important to stay the course and let the timing develop without being pushed into one direction or another to expedite the process this early in that process. The Dolphins have bigger issues right now than Tannehill not throwing to Mike Wallace in his first pre-season action with Miami. The play of the line for instance. So what would the reasons be that Wallace didn’t connect with Tannehill?
For starters pressure on the QB is a major issue. Especially with the deep ball. When a QB goes under pressure and he tries to unload the ball he normally does it off his back foot or on the run. It’s difficult to look downfield to find a speed receiver. Your first inclination is to dump the ball to your outlet. Mike Wallace is fast. No question but it still takes time to run down the field. If he can reach 40 yards in 4 seconds the QB has to have 4 seconds to throw and believe it or not in the first few series, Tannehill had maybe that if he were lucky. He wasn’t simply standing in the pocket.
Then there is coverage. Rookie or no rookie Wallace wasn’t left to run downfield uncovered. The safety may have been deep but in that four to five second window you have to account for that coverage regardless of who they are. I’m being generous with four seconds. Perhaps maybe the more likely scenario was that Wallace wasn’t written into the game plan. Wallace had been out of practice nursing an injury. He got back on the field and he ran routes. He stretched the field, ran at speed, and came off with no problems. Having Wallace on the field for the game was as important as throwing him the ball. It’s a strong possibility that the Dolphins didn’t want to risk having their WR aggravate the injury trying to fight for a ball.
The reality is that the connections will come and for now we need to be patient and let it develop. We want it to be faster but that is not always the case. Better to get it right than force it and get it wrong. That won’t however sell papers so as long as this continues expect more pressing from the, eh hum, press. Don’t believe me? You clicked on this article to read the title about a problem between Tannehill and Wallace. I’m only cautioning you not buy into the propaganda…not yet.