The Miami Dolphins‘ Jeff Ireland made a bold trade for WR Brandon Marshall. Two years later he shipped the “diva” WR to Chicago. Done with his attitude, done with his missed off-season workout, and done with his off-field problems. Reunited with his good friend Jay Cutler Marshall has thrived. This past off-season Ireland made Mike Wallace Miami’s top priority and gave him a contract bigger than the team had even given a free agent. Wallace was to be the speed burner, the guy who drew over coverage, they guy who could play the position without all the secondary distractions.
Four weeks into the season and Mike Wallace isn’t very happy.
Many teams in the NFL know that an unhappy WR could become a problem. Running backs? No big deal. Even in a passing offense a RB will still get touches. A WR want’s the ball and yet he is at the mercy of so many other things in order to make that happen. Line play that gives a QB time thus allowing the WR to get down field. A QB who doesn’t hold the ball too long and knows how to get out of trouble. Timing of routes that keep the WR and the QB on the same page. Etcetera.
Wallace will tell you the same thing he told the media, he did not envision this lack of production when he signed his contract with the Dolphins despite a larger offer from the Vikings. He told the media this week that he is “worried about this start”. He says that he and Ryan Tannehill and the coaches “need to find a way to make it work”. Or in other words to make him work. In other words, just throw him the damn ball.
Wallace has 15 receptions through four games for 175 yards. It’s pathetic. More pathetic is is his yards per catch average has dropped two yards over last year and eight yards from the previous year. The stats would be a little deceiving given several drops by the WR but Wallace has only 28 targets on the entire season and his longest reception is 34 yards.
It’s no wonder he is unhappy.
The question now becomes whether or not Ryan Tannehill can get him the ball. Tannehill is becoming a very solid QB (even despite last weeks turnover count) but he still holds the ball way too long and has no feel for pressure. Thus far Tannehill has completed 94 passes. 15 of which have been caught by Wallace. He has 142 attempts. 28 of those to Wallace. There is no question that Wallace is the type of player that can change a game and it’s tempo yet Miami seems to avoid him.
What is it that Tannehill is not seeing? Is Wallace not getting separation in his routes? Where is the speed we expected to see? Truth be told when I see Wallace downfield, I normally see the corner close in coverage (no not the safety rolling over to help). It seems that OC Mike Sherman has been using the threat of Wallace instead of actually using the strengths of Wallace. The offense is scoring points but they still shoot themselves in the foot when it’s apparent a drive is going considerably well. Last week is a great example. 3rd and inches deep in Saints territory and the Dolphins get cute with an off-tackle run rather than a fade to Wallace or a QB sneak.
Regardless of the offense the Dolphins need to get more creative and more importantly they need to get the ball to their number one WR. Wallace may be a great decoy for other players to step up but he is also a very valuable weapon that is not being used correctly. Hopefully he, Tannehill, and the coaches can indeed find the proper way to use him. Wallace isn’t quite yet a “Diva-Recieva” but another month of these numbers and he just might become one.