The Miami Dolphins struggled as a team against the New Orleans Saints and suffered their first loss of the season by a score of 38-17 on Monday Night Football. There were a number of things that went completely wrong during the contest, but one thing stood out above all else: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and wide receiver Mike Wallace just could not get on the same page.
Now, four games into the regular season, these players do not have any clear-cut excuses regarding why they simply cannot jell. After all, Tannehill appears to have solid chemistry with his other targets in Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline.
The trust and confidence that Tannehill shows in his other receivers is very apparent. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Tannehill completed 62.7 percent of his passes to Hartline this season and 68.0 percent of his passes to Gibson heading into this week.
He has only completed 55.2 percent of his passes intended for Wallace.
Looking back over the first three games of the season, Wallace has had more downs than ups. After getting off to a very slow start to the tune of one reception for 15 yards against the Cleveland Browns, he rebounded with a nine-reception, 115-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts. However, just one week later, he only collected two receptions for 22 yards against the Atlanta Falcons.
So, what gives?
The answer to this question most likely lies behind the scenes. It appears as though there may be a lack of communication between these two. Multiple times throughout the game, Tannehill and Wallace could not connect with the defense in zone coverage. Either Tannehill expected Wallace to sit in a hole and the receiver kept running his route, or vice versa.
Due to their lack of communication, each finished with awful numbers on the game.
Tannehill completed just 22 of 35 attempts for 249 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for a passer rating of 57.9—by far his worst performance of the year. Wallace had just three receptions for 24 yards despite being targeted seven times.
You get paid to make those catches, Mike Wallace.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 1, 2013
After the loss on Monday night, it is imperative for Tannehill and Wallace to sit down, analyze film and figure out why they are seeing things so differently. This situation will undoubtedly show the kind of dedication that each of these players possesses.
After all, this is something that really should have been ironed out in the preseason.
Tannehill must step up as a leader of the team and make sure that this gets straightened out. Wallace needs to put aside the ego that he has shown at times and take responsibility for the errors committed.
The Dolphins are a very young, talented team and still hold a 3-1 record while they find themselves in the thick of a playoff race. They will be tested yet again next week against a very solid Baltimore Ravens defense.
When Tannehill and Wallace take the field next Sunday, the effort they put forth this week to get on the same page will become very apparent.