The Miami Dolphins won on Sunday 23-10 and perhaps the biggest opening win since 2010. The Dolphins haven’t had an opening week win since 2010. However, immediately after the Dolphins won 23-10 over the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, the Miami Herald’s beat reporter Armando Salguero hurried to the locker room to talk to one guy Mike Wallace. Salguero had his chances to talk to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the game’s defensive star Cam Wake, but he instead went for Mike Wallace and asked him point blank: “Can I talk with you?” Wallace had this to say according to Salguero:
Mike Wallace was angry at fact he had only one catch. Asked about the game plan, he responded, “ask coach not my game plan.”
Here’s the thing about Mike Wallace and his one catch for 15 yards versus the Browns. Wallace and Ryan Tannehill had their chances to connect. Of the 5 targets that Ryan Tannehill looked for Wallace, Wallace could not come up with the long pass. In fact, it was darn near impossible, with the ball in the air, for Mike Wallace to get under the pass and haul it in because of tight, and physical coverage from Joe Hayden. Not only was Wallace covered by Hayden in man to man coverage, only once, did Wallace get separation when Hayden didn’t press him.
While the second half featured Wallace getting targeted more often, Tannehill and Wallace had a telling moment. In the third quarter as the Dolphins were trying to get in front of Cleveland down 7-6, Tannehill had to grab Wallace close to tell him where to line up or what the play call was. This was a subtle conversation that not many fans picked up on, but it did happen.
In addition, on the same drive, Tannehill fired to the end zone prior to the Hartline touchdown and was almost intercepted by the Browns defensive back. On this play Wallace slipped trying to gain separation of Hayden and therefore the throw sailed into the end zone almost getting intercepted.
Here’s the problem with what Wallace said, Armando Salguero cut short everything he said and with the power of twitter, things can be twisted and misconstrued in a heartbeat. First Wallace said “No comment. I don’t feel like talking…Ask coach.” After this was clarified by the Palm Beach Post’s own Andrew Abramson, Dolphins fans on twitter still didn’t shy away from their own form of criticism, which can sometimes be over the top, relentless, and spiteful.
Rightfully so, Wallace should be upset with his performance. Did Wallace play poorly versus Cleveland? Yes he did. Could he have done more? It’s actually difficult to know for sure. First off, he had a terrible track record versus Joe Hayden in the past as a Steeler. Sure familiarity between him and Hayden reared its ugly head when Wallace talked trash and told Hayden publicly that he needed to get his rest because it “would be a long day .” The quote surely sparked some motivation as bulletin board material for the Browns and for Hayden who is a professional shutdown corner. Consequently, it was a very long day for Mike Wallace and instead of celebrating with his teammates, he was reportedly angry about the way he played and not in a mood to be a bigger man and take the high road on a poor performance. At least his team backed up his trash talk with the win and the wide receiving unit as a whole showed that this is the offense Miami wants to have with Ryan Tannehill spreading it around.
At least we know this much about the state of mind that Mike Wallace is in, he is after all human, and he will be part of the game plan every week. Will he live up to the big contract this season and start connecting with quarterback Ryan Tannehill? Only time will tell and time will certainly tell if the Dolphins will run with him or rely on other capable offensive players to take them to the playoffs.