Nobody needs to remind Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie about Dolphins wide receivers Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline. Not only was Cromartie on the field when Wallace and Hartline drove Jets rookie cornerback Dee Milliner to the bench last month, Cromartie’s been eyeball-to-eyeball with each more than enough.
In fact, he probably didn’t need to be told Wallace and Hartline could, Sunday, become the first pair of 1,000-yard Dolphins wide receivers since Dan Marino and The Marks Brothers were 2 Legit 2 Quit in 1991.
“They’re not going to reach it,” Cromartie quipped during a conference call with South Florida media Thursday.
Don’t take cornerback confidence with a lack of respect, however.
“Hartline’s been, these last three years, he’s been very consistent,” Cromartie said. “He’s been very reliable for Tannehill. To me, he’s the No. 1 receiver. I know they signed Mike Wallace for a big deal in the offseason, but to me, [Hartline is] the most consistent receiver of the group. What he does, he’s not a fast guy, but he can get over the top of DBs that are faster than him because he’s a veteran guy who understands the game. And he understands what Tannehill’s looking for also.
“Whereas, Mike Wallace, he’s a speedster,” he continued. “The first half of the season, he was just trying to get acclimated. He hast 68 catches for 905 yards. He’s an explosive receiver who can get down the field and change the game with a big play. The way they use him is for that.”
Hartline leads the Dolphins in catches (74) and receiving yards (978). Wallace narrowly trails in both categories (68 and 905) and leads in yards per catch (13.3 to 13.2). Both have four touchdowns.
Asked for something about each the public or media might miss or just not know, Tannehill said, “I would say Hartline’s detail, day in and day out, coming out to practice every day, being detailed in how he runs his routes, working extremely hard. I think Mike is a funnier guy than people know. He has a handshake with each of the offensive lineman that he does all the time, during practice and during games. He definitely brings a little juice to the huddle that way.”
Wallace gave a verbal shrug at both the statistical mark and his part in it.
“It would be big for the organization. But, for me, I still feel like I fell short of my expectations,” he said. “I feel like it was an OK season. But I’m still not happy with my season the way I played at moments. We’ve got to strive and be better. But that doesn’t mean too much to me. If I’m not making enough plays for my team, I don’t feel like I had a successful season. It would be good for both of us to get that (1,000-yard seasons), but that would be small. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.”
But he, like Cromartie, doesn’t skimp on the admiration for Hartline.
“That’s my guy!” Wallace smiled. “That’s what I tell him all the time. I love Hart. He’s a great guy, great teammate. We have the same goals — we want to be great. We definitely have a ways to go. It’s our first year together. I think we did pretty decent. We could’ve done a lot better. We both know that so we’re going to hook up really early in the offseason.”
Wallace caught himself, remembering what’s still possible if the Dolphins beat the Jets Sunday: “It’s not over yet. Hopefully, we have another long run to make.”