When Wallace had his great seasons in Pittsburgh, then-offensive coordinator Bruce Arians moved him around the formation, sometimes placing him outside, sometimes in the slot, sometimes bunched near the line of scrimmage. Arians also put Wallace in motion ostensibly so defenders would have to chase the speedy receiver even before the play began.
The Dolphins rarely have put Wallace in motion in any game other than the one against Indianapolis. And, curiously, they line him up in the same place practically 90 percent of the time out wide on the right side of the formation.
Primarily, when we are in our quick tempo and moving things around, we want to get guys in a position where they can line up a little bit faster, get the play entry in and get the clock moving, Philbin said. Thats the primary reason.
Thats a solid reason, but there are ramifications to that approach, the most obvious of which is it helps the defense, too.
There will not be a lot of mysteries to what side to where we line up, Philbin said before launching a defense of the strategy. I cant speak to how much of an advantage it is [for the defense].
Theres different ways of doing it. I dont know if there is any downside. Thats just a decision we made, and thats how we do it. I dont know if there is a specific downside to it.
Heres a downside, Coach: The Dolphins line up Wallace to the right and ask Tannehill to connect with him deep, although Tannehill is not all that effective throwing deep toward the right side.
Stats tell the story
According to the football metrics website ProFootballFocus.com, Tannehill has so far in his career completed 28 of 56 passes (50 percent completion rate) for 504 yards, with seven touchdowns and only one interception throwing passes of 10 yards or more in the air to his left.
Seven touchdowns, one interception throwing deep left.
On his throws of 10 yards or more to the right side in his NFL career, Tannehill has completed 34 of 75 passes (45 percent) for 799 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.
One touchdown, three interceptions throwing deep right.
Thats not a coincidental statistic, as it spans 20 games. And the numbers for this years four games are more startling.
This season, Tannehill has completed 10 of 15 passes for 168 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions throwing passes beyond 10 yards to his left.
He has completed only 4 of 14 attempts for 84 yards without a touchdown or interception throwing to his right beyond 10 yards in the air.
I dont even think about it, Tannehill said.
Perhaps he should start, because the facts are screaming at full throat, demanding that Tannehill improve his deep throws to the right and suggesting to coaches that if they want Tannehill and Wallace to connect more consistently, occasionally putting the receiver on the left side might help.
It also might help if Tannehill and Wallace grew closer. Although both say the right things about their professional relationship, its obvious to anyone with eyes Tannehill has a stronger bond with Hartline, who, by the way, almost always lines up on the left side.
Tannehill and Hartline clicked almost instantly last season even though the receiver missed most of the offseason and the entire preseason with an injury. The two come out early before games and toss the ball together. Often they sit next to each other on the bench.
Hartline is Tannehills go-to guy.
I would say so, Wallace said. Maybe its because they played a whole year together. I dont know. Thats theyre thing. They do what they do. They prepare how they prepare. I prepare how I prepare. I dont know what they do together. Honestly, thats their relationship.
Dolphins coaches suggest time and hard work is the cure for this issue. That is interesting as both Wallace and Tannehill work as hard as anyone. The quarterback puts in long hours and the receiver regularly catches 250 passes each day, including 100 on the JUGS passing machine.
But those long hours and countless passes are not paying dividends yet.
Something has to change. And, in his mind, Wallace has marked the midway point of the season as his personal zero hour. He wants to see better results by Miamis eighth game or hes going to start getting paranoid, as he said.
Then definitely somethings wrong, he said. And were almost there. We only have four more games before that. Were already four games in. We dont have too much longer to figure it out. We got to make it happen. I dont know what we have to do
We all got to do a better job and find a way to make it work.