Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace caught 73 passes (a career high) for 930 yards and five touchdowns (a career low) in his first season with the team last year, but the Dolphins are looking for much more from the former Pittsburgh Steelers star. Jeff Ireland paid Wallace a large sum of money in order to sign him in the 2013 offseason, and new GM Dennis Hickey and the coaching staff would like to see him put up numbers closer to his 2010 and 2011 seasons with the Steelers when he had 1,257 yards with ten touchdowns and 1,193 yards with eight touchdowns respectively.
In short, the Dolphins want to get more playmaking ability out of him next season, because that’s why they broke the bank for him. He averaged just 12.7 yards per reception last season, which isn’t low when comparing him to the average receiver but is low when comparing it to what Wallace is capable of doing. He averaged a whopping 21 yards per catch in his second season in the league, with an average of 16.6 yards per reception in his third season. The main focus has been on the connection between Wallace and third-year QB Ryan Tannehill, because many would like to see them hook up on more long passes, which was a problem for both last year. A criticism on Tannehill has been inconsistent downfield accuracy, and it seems like the main knocks on Wallace were consistency and work ethic.
It looks like the work ethic concern can be dropped if you buy what Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is saying. He recently gave Wallace some effusive praise, specifically for the hard work he has put in this offseason in order to explode next season. Philbin said, via ESPN NFL Nation’s James Walker, “I think Mike, if you ask, Mike’s attitudes been outstanding. He’s been working hard every single day that he’s been here. I think he feels a lot more comfortable just as we like to say, parking his car in the parking lot and coming to work. I think he feel better about being a Miami Dolphin. I think he understands the expectations that we have in the offseason and so forth. So really like what he’s doing.”
That’s great to hear, and there’s no doubt that the Dolphins have some big-time weapons around Tannehill. Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, rookie Jarvis Landry, and Brandon Gibson combine to form a powerful quintet, and I think this is the year Tannehill puts up huge numbers.