On a single play, Mike Wallace showed the boundless promise that made him so attractive to the Dolphins and how that promise still remains unfulfilled in Miami.
Wallace so thoroughly torched cornerback Darrelle Revis deep down the right sideline Monday night that the former All-Pro had just one hope: that the Dolphins flubbed the throw or catch.
He got his wish. Ryan Tannehill misfired wide, and Wallace couldn’t remain in bounds.
“I made a bad throw,” Tannehill acknowledged Wednesday. “It was moving to my right and it tailed to the right on me.”
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Tannehill continued: “Sometimes, it’s on me. Sometimes, it’s on him. We’ve got to get it together and be on the same page.”
Time is running short to do so.
In the spring, the Dolphins gave Wallace a five-year, $60 million contract for two reasons: big plays and touchdowns.
Instead, they have essentially turned one of the league’s most explosive playmakers into a possession receiver.
Wallace’s career low in touchdowns is six. He has one with seven games to play in 2013.
While Wallace is on pace to threaten his personal best in catches (72 in 2011), his work can be best described as quantity over quality.
Wallace wasn’t made available to reporters after practice Wednesday. But if he’s upset about his role in Miami, he has done a good job masking it. Other than declining to speak to reporters after his one-catch Dolphins debut, Wallace has been a good soldier.
Those close to Wallace say his transition from Pittsburgh to Miami has been a seamless one and that he really enjoys playing down here.
The Dolphins enjoy having him. They just would like a little more out of him.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he’s not “overly concerned” about Wallace’s production. Philbin added that the team runs a progression-based offense, throwing to the receiver who’s open, not necessarily the receiver with the most famous name.
That was evident Monday, when Rishard Matthews set career highs in catches (11), yards (120) and touchdowns (two), while Wallace had just 15 yards on four receptions.
“We need to make the big play we had [against the Buccaneers],” Philbin said. “Those are plays we have to start making. He can help us make those kind of plays. We certainly want as many of those as we can get. We need more explosive plays in our offense.”
As Tannehill mentioned, it’s not all Wallace’s fault. And for sure, the wideout has a history of production down the field, ranking among the league’s best deep threats in his first three seasons.
But in 2013, Wallace has caught just three of the 15 balls thrown to him 20 yards or longer in the air.
When Tannehill targets Wallace, his quarterback rating is just 49.4 — among the worst quarterback-receiver connections in football.
Meanwhile, Wallace is tied for the league lead in drops (nine) and ranks 69th among receivers who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps in yards after catch (4.0), according to Pro Football Focus.
Although it seems like ages ago, it’s important to note that Wallace did miss an extended chunk of training camp with a groin injury, potentially affecting his chemistry with his new quarterback.
“Right now, we’re just looking forward, making the plays that are there,” Tannehill said. “We’ve had some plays there, like the one I didn’t make. I have to step up and make that throw.”