Mike Wallace is putting down roots. Or perhaps he’s hoping to cash in on the latest real estate boom.
More likely, both are true.
Either way …
“In Pittsburgh, I knew I was [in] a six-month lease every time, a furnished apartment,” Wallace said last week. “I’d just bring my bag and be ready to go. Down here, I have to buy me a house, get settled in.”
Wallace’s words are telling for two reasons:
He yet again took a not-so-subtle shot at his old team and city (Wallace already has said he didn’t feel at home in Pittsburgh, and Ryan Tannehill could be as good as Ben Roethlisberger).
He is all in on all things Miami; physically, emotionally — and financially.
Since signing a $60 million contract with the Dolphins on the first day of free agency, Wallace has had to acclimate himself to the area, his coaching staff and his teammates.
The on-the-field part might be the easiest.
Reporters got a sneak peek at the Dolphins’ new-look offense last week. Wallace joined Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson in Miami’s three-wide formations during Tuesday’s organized team activities.
Hartline and Wallace worked predominantly on the outside, and Gibson was in the slot — taking the place of Davone Bess, who was traded to Cleveland during the NFL Draft.
Combined, they signed offseason contracts worth in excess of $100 million — with more $40 million in guaranteed money. The Dolphins had no choice but to open up the wallet. They ranked in the bottom third of the league in average total yards (311.5), points (18) and passing yards (199) in 2012.
Coach Joe Philbin never could really run the offense he wanted in his first season. Tannehill was too green, and the skill players around him were underwhelming.
These won’t be excuses in 2013.
“I think the biggest things that we’ve talked about is being able to move the chains,” Philbin said. “I think really [that’s] the one deciding thing that gets you the opportunity to call more plays and play faster.
“The more weapons you have on offense, you’ve got to believe that helps your percentages of getting more first downs and creating that type of tempo.”
And the centerpiece of those plans is Wallace, the speedster who had more than twice as many touchdowns last season than the entire Dolphins group of receivers combined.
When asked of the potential of Miami’s offense — which is expected to include Lamar Miller at running back and Dustin Keller at tight end — Wallace said: “The sky’s the limit.”
“You can do everything,” he added. “Anything you go out there and work for.”
Other Wallace musings:
• On new teammates Keller and Gibson: “They look a lot better on the field than in our offseason drills. They kind of looked a little slow out there, and then when they get on the field, they’re a lot faster than workouts.”
• On Miami’s offensive system: “It’s so up-tempo, so fast-paced. You’ve just got to get used to it. Catch your breath and stay locked in.”
• On the vibe surrounding the team: “Everybody has a college mentality around here. It’s a lot different than where I came from. Everybody’s hungry. Everybody wants to get better, get to where we need to be — that’s a winning record.”
Wallace, 26, is lot like a college kid in one respect: He’s having his mother Sonjia brought in by plane to help him shop for furniture. As of Tuesday, all he owned was a bed.
“I just started to move into my place,” Wallace said. “I still have a couple of things to work on.”
The same can be said for his new team.