Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Mike Wallace caught his first touchdown as a Miami Dolphin and connected with QB Ryan Tannehill. Granted, it was a preseason game and he has by no means earned his enormous contract yet, but it is a start and as Wallace put it last night, “Got the monkey off our back” (@Omar Kelly). While most people will rave about Wallace getting into the end zone for the first time, I was ecstatic with his play for another reason. He proved he is a diverse wide receiver with more than just speed. He proved that Mike Wallace is not a one-trick pony.
Wallace finished the game against the Texans with 3 catches for 58 yards and a TD. He was Miami’s leading receiver and it feels amazing to say that. Wallace put up those numbers against Johnathan Joseph, one of the league’s better defensive backs. The best part of Wallace’s grabs? They were all different. Three different routes.
Wallace’s first catch was a beautifully timed 16 yard comeback from Tannehill on the sideline. On this play Wallace used his speed not to blow by the defender but rather to create space. We can expect to see more of this type of pass play in the future, as it was Tannehill’s favorite last year with WR Brian Hartline.
On his 2nd reception, Wallace showcased his trademark quality: speed. He blew by Joseph and made an incredible acrobatic catch with little margin for error on the right sideline. I liked this play for more than Wallace’s sheer speed. It showed us that Wallace can make any play, that he is more than just a deep lob-ball catcher. It also showed us that Wallace has great hands. Watch as he first catches the ball with his hands before tucking it into his body. Often criticized for dropping balls and poor technique, this 33 yard hookup with Tannehill showed us that Wallace can catch anything. Lastly, this play demonstrated Wallace’s awareness. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to twist your body, catch a ball, and put both feet down in a tiny space with a defender breathing down your neck. Wallace knew where he was on the field the entire time and made a difficult catch look like a backyard football play.
Wallace showed even more diversity on his TD grab. No, it wasn’t a stop-and-go route for 60 yards. It required little speed. Wallace showed us he is a viable midfield red zone option. Wallace’s 9 yard TD catch was a bullet from Tannehill. Wallace simply found a gap in the coverage, set up camp, and used his big frame in between two defenders and haul in the missile. It was a thing of beauty to watch. In my opinion, it was even better to witness than a long route, because we can expect to see the long passes to Wallace. It was a breathe of fresh air.
Mike Wallace did more to prove he isn’t a one dimensional wide receiver than just run a variety of routes and catch different passes. As fellow staff writer Tyler McMullen pointed out in his most recent article, Wallace showed his blocking skills with a powerful block during Lamar Miller’s touchdown scamper. Not only does Wallace’s block enable Miller to walk in for the score, but Wallace holds the block for the duration of the play.
Whether you are a fan of Mike Wallace or not, you have to commend his play against the Texans. Dolphins fans can breathe a little easier after watching their show pony demonstrate more than his usual trick. If last night is any indication of the season to come, Miami is going to get what they paid for for Wallace. Wallace’s solid performance could not have come at a better time either. The gruesome injury to TE Dustin Keller created a huge hole in this ‘Phins offense. It will be up to Wallace to step up and help fill that hole. We should not panic yet. Wallace showed us he is more than capable of rising to the occasion.