Saturday, May 31, 2014
Is Mike Wallace primed for a big 2014?
By James Walker
DAVIE, Fla. -- Earlier this week during 11-on-11 drills, Miami Dolphins speedy receiver Mike Wallace got a step on Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes and streaked down the sidelines. Wallace began to pull ahead of Grimes as quarterback Ryan Tannehill unleashed a deep ball.
But Tannehill's pass was overthrown by a couple yards. The sight was all too familiar for Dolphins fans.
Tannehill and Wallace did not have the type of impact the Dolphins expected last season. The pair were expected to be dynamic but could not get on the same page.
Wallace, arguably the fastest receiver in the NFL, finished with 930 receiving yards after signing a $60 million contract. Wallace probably left an additional 300-500 yards on the field due to missed connections deep with Tannehill.
The Dolphins are in a "playoffs or bust" season and cannot afford to leave big offensive plays on the field.
"Well, it's big. It's big time," Tannehill said of making more plays with Wallace. "I think that's one thing you looked at from last year is just connecting more. Not only on deep balls but just connecting more on every run."
Wallace has been putting in the work this offseason to have a better 2014. He met briefly with the Miami media Tuesday and said he worked with Tannehill often this offseason.
Here is another good sign: Wallace was the last player to leave the practice field Tuesday during the start of organized team activities. Wallace spent at least 30 extra minutes following the two-hour practice catching passes and working on the JUGS machine. His work ethic has caught the attention of Miami's coaching staff.
"I think Mike, if you ask, Mike's attitudes been outstanding," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. "He's been working hard every single day that he's been here. I think he feels a lot more comfortable just as we like to say, parking his car in the parking lot and coming to work. I think he feel better about being a Miami Dolphin. I think he understands the expectations that we have in the offseason and so forth. So really like what he's doing."
It will be interesting to see how Wallace is used in Miami's new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. One immediate change that was noticeable this week was Wallace being moved around to different spots in an effort to get him open and to be less predictable.
This is a huge season for Tannehill to prove he's the long-term solution in Miami. A better rapport with Wallace would go a long way.