First opening weekend win in three years. First victory over the Cleveland Browns since 2004, a span of five games. A decisive defeat with a swarming defense. You would think those lines would be cause for celebration. Apparently not. Miami fans are still boiling over the passive offensive play. The media is starting to smell blood and are now circling the team waiting for it to implode and now a tiff inside the locker room could erupt into the kind of distraction that results in coaches and GM’s losing their jobs.
Mike Wallace is the Miami Dolphins 60 million dollar man. He is also now at the center of a 60 million dollar problem. Targeted zero times in the first half and only a handful in half two, Wallace finished his first game as a Miami Dolphin with 15 yards receiving on one catch. Apparently he was none to thrilled. According to several in the media, Wallace was close to livid after the game. Upset over the lack of targets and the lack of attention being paid to him by the Miami QB, Ryan Tannehill.
Prior to the game Wallace sent some words of encouragement to Browns CB Joe Haden who locked Wallace down for the game. ”Better get some sleep, it’s going to be a long day”. It was, for Wallace. The issue here is that Miami didn’t really seem to have a plan in place for him. No crossing routes, quick slants, or 20 yard button-hook curls that are an almost given completion with his speed. Instead, he was overthrown once and was knocked off his route twice by Haden.
“I don’t want to talk. I don’t feel like talking about it,” Wallace told reporters. “Ask Coach. It’s not my game plan”, Said Wallace. After the game Jeff Ireland met Wallace on the field and exchanged words of what was likely encouragement. (He had his arm around his waist).
Making the matter worse was the complete lack of a rushing game for the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill had little time to throw as he was sacked four times. The Dolphins runners combined for less than 20 yards on the day. Three Dolphins however did have good games. TE/HB Charles Clay looked every bit of an NFL TE. Brandon Gibson had one drop on his first target but looked very reliable after that. Brian Hartline however shined beyond anyone else. Eclipsing 100 yards on the day and getting into the end-zone.
There seems to be however a disconnect between Wallace and Tannehill. The Dolphins need to get this issue fixed now before Wallace’s displeasure becomes a bigger problem. Throughout the pre-season the Miami Herald has been striving to find out why the disconnect and have often called out the problem to each of the players. It’s no wonder that they half chased Wallace after the game trying to find another answer to same question. When Wallace answered like he did above…well, the Herald is now calling him “Diva Mike”. Unfortunately this kind of reporting will only make many Dolphins fans more upset.
Wallace however is not the only post-game problem. Two others Dolphins players are having fits after yesterdays loss.
Randy Starks is simmering over the fact that he has been demoted. He missed all of the off-season OTA’s but still feels as though he is getting crapped on by the team and he let anyone in earshot know. Yesterday after a sack he flipped the middle finger salute towards the Miami Dolphins sideline. Whether that was in defiance to the team or towards a Browns fan is unknown but it was deliberate and very clearly seen. Starks is on a one year 8 million dollar deal he signed as the teams Franchise Player. He skipped OTA’s as a way to complain about not getting a multi-year deal.
It would appear that the punishment for that was not starting. Throughout training camp Starks was limited in action so of course his lack of participation in TC has nothing to do with his benching either. Regardless Joe Philbin will likely hand down a fine to Starks for the 1 finger salute. A salute Starks says was intended for a teammate and not the coaches. Saying it was a joke between he and another teammate.
If Starks and Wallace weren’t enough, the talk also swings to NT Paul Soliai. Soliai, according to the Herald is upset over a contract offer made by Dolphins negotiator and cap-ologist, Dawn Aponte. Soliai’s agent took to Twitter after talks broke down and said they were “We’re fed up with their tactics”.
Soliai apparently has been in negotiations for an extension the last few weeks and got an offer that again, according to the Heralds’ Armando Salguero, was offending.
The trio of problems that are behind the closed doors of the Davie training facility have yet to pour out onto the public streets. It’s something that I am sure a couple of local beat writers will try and facilitate quicker rather than later. One fact does remain however. A problem does exist and Joe Philbin needs to get the issues resolved. It’s his season and possibly his career that could be on the line.
It’s not uncommon for a team to lose faith and/or respect for their head coach. Dave Wannsted, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, and Tony Sparano all found backlash from their actions or inactions. The difference is they usually began later in the season when the frustration of losing took it toll. Not after a week one victory to open the season.
NOTE: The video of Mike Wallace is a perfect example of media hype. Wallace was cordial, smiling, and saying all the right things. The media however would not relent. According to the Miami Herald, Wallace would not answer questions as he scurried off with reporters quasi-chasing after him. This article is not a blast at Wallace who handled himself in a very professional way but does outline an issue should Ryan Tannehill and Wallace not get on the same page soon. The media is going to continue needling this until it does become something.