Immediately following Sunday's Miami Dolphins game against the Cleveland Browns, Mike Wallace refused to speak to the media. The $60 million wide receiver was targeted just five times and only caught one ball for 15 yards on the day.
"I don't feel like talking," Wallace told reporters while exiting the locker room.
That's not the type of response you want from a guy you have $60 million invested in for the next five years. I respect the fact that he wants to be more involved in the game and put up solid numbers, but acting childish and refusing to talk about the game is unacceptable.
You would think the Dolphins were coming off of a loss, considering his reaction.
That wasn't the case, as the new-look Fins won an important season opener in Cleveland 23-10. It was the first time since 2010 that Miami won the season opener and just the second time since 2005.
The near-absence of Wallace in the Dolphins offense was mainly because of the solid coverage by Joe Haden and the double-coverage he was facing all day, though Wallace's lack of offensive production wasn't such a bad thing for the team.
Newly acquired slot receiver Brandon Gibson hauled in seven catches for 77 yards, while Dolphins veteran Brian Hartline caught nine balls for 114 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown grab. Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill did a solid job all game, recognizing the coverages the Browns threw at the Dolphins—specifically Wallace—and found a way to get the ball to the other playmakers he has in Miami.
Hartline has always been a solid receiver who hasn't really had a chance to show off his talent in Miami due to the lack of talent throwing him the ball. Last season, he broke out with his first career 1,000-yard season. Much of that was because Tannehill was throwing him the ball.
Now that Wallace is going to draw the best coverage each game, it's just going to open up more opportunities for Hartline to succeed.
If a team is going to shutdown Wallace, he's going to have to either accept it or find ways to get open. It's a great sign of respect for any player to get shutdown the way the Browns virtually hid Wallace from Sunday's contest.
"I think they did a lot of things to take (Wallace) away," Tannehill said. "They clouded him and put a guy over the top. It's frustrating for him and our offense, as well. We want to give him the ball, and he's going to play a big factor in this offense the rest of the year. Today just wasn't the day for him."
We know Wallace has the talent, as he is one of the most explosive players in the NFL. If he wants to be put in a conversation with Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones, he's going to need to be more of a leader and team player.
A leader would have said all the things that the team did well and hint at what they need to improve upon. As Fitzgerald went through his rough stretch of seasons after Kurt Warner retired, you never once heard the guy complain about not getting the ball enough.
Wallace should follow Fitzgerald's lead and become more of a team guy. There's no "I" in "team," and after Sunday's win, there's a sense Wallace thinks there is.
Quotes courtesy of ESPN.