The Miami Dolphins started their 2013 season with a 23-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, and you'd think everyone on the Dolphins' side would be happy about that. Most everyone was, but receiver Mike Wallace, signed to a five-year, $60-million contract with $30 million guaranteed in March, was not.
The former Pittsburgh Steelers' star, known as one of the NFL's most dangerous deep threats, was targeted just five times by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and caught just one pass -- a 15-yarder with 11:30 left in the third quarter. After the game, Wallace said that he did not feel like talking about the performance.
"Ask coach," Wallace told the media. "It's not my gameplan."
As we pointed out in this week's "Playbook" preview, it's an issue that may have had its roots in the preseason. For all the talk about Wallace as a deep threat, he caught exactly one pass over 20 yards in the exhibition campaign.
When asked this week about Wallace's matchup against Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who shadowed Wallace and is one of the league's most impressive young cover men, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said that that matchup might be a consideration in the gameplan.
“It’s very important as we put together the passing game," Philbin said on Tuesday. "Obviously, the passing game again starts with protection, No. 1. But then No. 2, what kind of pass concepts are you going to use, and No. 3, how are they going to match up to your formations, your personnel groupings and how we could potentially take advantage of that? It’s a very big part of it. Obviously Haden is an excellent player.” True, but if you pay that much money for a receiver, you're intimating that he's matchup-proof to a degree, and you're going to get him the ball no matter what. Tannehill threw 18 passes in the first half, and not one of them went Wallace's way. It's an odd way to use such a valuable player, but that's how the Dolphins played it. Brian Hartline led the team with 15 targets, and Brandon Gibson came in second with 10.