Last year the Miami Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill No. 8 overall, and this past offseason they tried to get him some big play threats to assist in his development–namely Mike Wallace.
1,000+ yard wide receivers are rare in Miami since Dan Marino retired. The Dolphins have had just four WR seasons of 1,000+ since 2000, ironically three of those coming the past three seasons with Brandon Marshall eclipsing that number in 2010 and 2011, plus Brian Hartline last season.
The issue with the recent big yardage campaigns is that the three seasons combined for just 10 touchdowns. A breakdown of these recent three 1,000 seasons shows the average is 80 catches on a whopping 140 targets for 1,103 yards and three TDs. Considering the amount of targets these numbers are actually somewhat underwhelming. Compare that with what Wallace averages and we see cause for great optimism. 59 catches on 101 targets for an average of 1,010 yards and a whopping eight touchdowns annually. Wallace has put up huge numbers with a fraction of the targets. As a ‘Phin, I would think his targets will end up being much closer to that 140 number than the 101 he was getting as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It is also worth noting that the recent three 1,000 seasons for Miami WRs has seen those guys get an average of 256 yards after the catch. In the same time-span, Wallace averaged 378 yards after catch. M-Wall can and will make things happen.
It looks as though Tanny and Wallace are becoming fast BFFs. Tanny was said to be instrumental in the courting process that landed the coveted Wallace in Miami, and recently we see the second year QB marveling at the fact that he has never interacted on the field with a player that has such speed. Tanny-to-Wallace is already starting to develop goodness.
For those out there who feel the Dolphins overspent to land M-Wall I would say this…I looked at game logs, and kept looking…I was searching for Dolphins WRs who broke pass plays for over 80 yards. There are a few times where the Dolphins got an 80 yard TD pass following a touch-back (2012 Hartline at the Arizona Cardinals for example), but you have to go back to 1985 (Marino to Mark Duper) to see a pass play that went for over 80 yards. Well, in the past two seasons alone M-Wall has an 82 and a 95 yard TD scamper. Dolphins have been clamoring for a big-play WR for a while now…I submit to you that M-Wall is that guy.
The (massively inaccurate) knock on Wallace is he is a one-trick pony only capable of being effective on deep passes. In 2010, I would have agreed with that, but 2011, 2012 and most importantly for ‘Phins fans in 2013+, that is not the case at all. I think we will see scenarios where Tanny hits Wallace with a short pass and we see Wallace’s skill-set take over and earn a big play (similar to Peyton Manning hitting Demaryius Thomas on a quick-hitter then watching Thomas do his thing to break off a big play).
I was very underwhelmed (in fact downright upset) with Tanny’s rookie campaign, but a guy like Wallace with that skill-set can take a short-yardage pass and turn it into a stat booster (and team confidence booster). Surely, Tanny has 100+ targets for Wallace up his sleeve this season, and M-Wall should prove to be a big reason why Tanny makes progressions in 2013.
Wallace is a rare talent who demands extra attention by the defense on every snap, so that will help the other WRs immensely (which by extension helps Tannehill immensely), but the actual Tanny-to-Wallace combo has me very excited going forward. Miami tossed just 13 TDs in 2012 (yikes…putrid), but the good news is I truly feel the Tanny-to-Wallace combo will approach that number on their own. Both players seem to understand that their futures will be linked, and both seem to be excited about what they can accomplish together.