The Miami Dolphins were dubbed "Offseason Spending Champions" by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal. This was mostly due to the signing of Mike Wallace with a five-year, $60 million contract with $27 million in guaranteed money.
The former wide receiver of the Pittsburgh Steelers was set to make the Dolphins legitimate contenders in the AFC East. However, the new-found partnership did not get off to a smooth start Sunday.
This is not the coming-out party that was expected for Wallace in Miami.
After the game, Wallace was noticeably frustrated, according to a tweet by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald:
So, is this lack of production a one-time thing or a sign of what's to come?
At this point, it would be easy to read too much into the situation and become as frustrated as Wallace. However, this is clearly not the end of days for the receiver in Miami—it was a product of the offensive game plan.
Sometimes, the best player on an NFL offense must serve as a decoy to benefit the rest of the team. That was exactly the role that Wallace played Sunday.
Head coach Joe Philbin clearly wanted to give his young quarterback the best chance to succeed against the Browns. The most efficient way to accomplish this was to throw the ball away from cornerback Joe Haden.
When assessing the Browns secondary, there is a huge drop off in talent after Haden. Being that the corner was shadowing Wallace for most of the contest Sunday, it made sense to throw in a different direction.
Tannehill had immediate success with this plan—he attempted 38 passes, completing 24 of them, for a total of 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 82.3. Haden was limited to one tackle and one pass defensed on the game.
The success of Brian Hartline (nine receptions, 114 yards and one score) and Brandon Gibson (seven receptions for 77 yards) on the day is a reflection of the respect that the defense must pay towards the speedy Wallace. There will be plenty of times this season when the opposing defense's coverage will be more evenly spread—those are the times when Wallace will flourish.
Yes, Wallace was frustrated Sunday—any good receiver wants the ball in his hands as much as possible. However, his frustration is a small price to pay to come away with a 23-10 victory on opening day.
Look for this trend to change next Sunday when the Dolphins take on an Indianapolis Colts secondary that has been susceptible to the likes of Wallace in the past.
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