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This game showed that, thus far with the real bullets firing, the chemistry between quarterback Ryan Tannehill and wide receiver Mike Wallace is not what it was in the preseason.
Tannehill did not even target Mike Wallace once in the first half of the ball game. Because of the $60 million contract given to Wallace, there was clearly more pressure to get Wallace involved in the second half of the game. However, the results were poor. Tannehill targeted Wallace five times in the second half and was rewarded with one catch for 15 yards.
A few of the incomplete passes showed a lack of chemistry. This was the case on the first attempt in Wallace’s direction toward the beginning of the second half, which felt like a forced attempt to get Wallace more involved after noticing he had not been targeted a single time in the first half.
Tannehill’s ball was underthrown. too far to the inside and should have been picked off by Browns corner Joe Haden, who dropped the football. Two more deep balls fell incomplete, overthrown as Wallace had trouble getting cleanly into his route due to the coverage. Another ball was dropped by Wallace.
It is not surprising that Tannehill and Wallace would take some time to get their chemistry with one another during real-game conditions. In my experience, high-end free-agent acquisitions often take a year to fully assimilate into their unit. What is a little bit concerning is the pressure everyone from top-down may feel to get Wallace more involved.
The contract Wallace signed makes everyone from head coach Joe Philbin, to offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver Mike Wallace himself feel pressure to feed him the football. Yet, as I stated many times during the free-agent period, there were reasons to believe that chemistry would come along slowly.
Wallace himself is unaccustomed to being a top-tier receiving target, as he never really played that role in Pittsburgh, except, arguably, in his most disappointing, least efficient year. Tannehill’s history at Texas A&M and Miami never involved the use of a Wallace-type receiver as the top option in the offense.
Head coach Joe Philbin very famously stated many times that he disagrees with the concept of a No. 1 receiver. All of these elements make for a long road before everything truly clicks on a consistent basis, and the pressure that comes with a $60 million contract does not help that process happen.
This is probably why, after the game, according to Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Wallace told reporters to “ask coach about the game plan” as he refused to comment further on his one-catch, 15-yard performance in a two-touchdown win by his team.
The Dolphins need to be proactive in getting control of this situation because they specifically traded one of the top receivers in the game currently, Brandon Marshall, because of this kind of behavior.