Through the first month of the season, things haven't gone quite according to plan for wide receiver Mike Wallace. One of the NFL's fastest players signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the Dolphins in March, and through four games he has a grand total of 15 receptions for 176 yards and a lone touchdown.
Not only is the lack of production troubling, but so too are the average yards per catch, which currently sits at 11.7. Last season, Wallace's worst with the Steelers, he averaged 13.1 YPC. That was down from 19.4, 21.0 and 16.6 during his first three NFL season.
Now, after just three receptions for 24 yards in Monday's loss to the Saints, Wallace admits that he's concerned.
“I'm definitely worried about it because it's game four,” Wallace said Wednesday, via the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero. “I'm not paranoid or anything but in Week 4 it's not the way I imagined my first four weeks going. Definitely not. I'm pretty sure it's not the way anybody imagined it going. So for myself, and starting with myself, [quarterback] Ryan [Tannehill] and coaches, we all got to do a better job and find a way to make it work.”
And Wallace's on-field chemistry with Tannehill appears to be one of the biggest factors here. Both admitted during training camp that they weren't yet on the same page and that apparently hasn't changed.
The Dolphins paid Wallace because it desperately lacked a deep threat a season ago. Through the first month of the season, the issue remains.
"I got to make big plays," Wallace said. "That's my main thing. I've been used to making big plays. And I definitely, definitely can make big plays. That's what I do. That's why I came here. That's why they signed me. It just hasn't happened so far for one reason or another."
One reason is the aforementioned growing pains between Wallace and Tannehill. Another reason: defenses aren't going to let Wallace beat them all by himself. We saw that in Week 1 when he wasn't particularly jazzed about catching one pass for 15 yards in the win over the Browns.
Tannehill, meanwhile, won't change the way he's approaching the passing game.
“I'm going to play the quarterback position the way coaches install the plays; I'm going to go through the reads just like they install it,” the quarterback said days after the Browns win. “We're going to try to get him the ball when he's in the play, but we're not going to force him the ball."
Which means that Wallace is going to have to get open. And if history is any guide, his best chance of making that happen is by outrunning the defense.
I know one thing, we not going to be able to go through a whole year like that," Wallace said. "We have to make big plays. We have to back defenses up. That's what we have to do. Extra film work, different plays, whatever it is, whatever it's going to take, we have to get it done. We have to make big plays."
According to Football Outsiders, Wallace ranks 57th in both total value and value-per-play among all NFL wide receivers.