The New England Patriots are currently preparing for this week’s important matchup against the division rival Miami Dolphins. New to the Dolphins this year, former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace has yet to make a huge splash for them since he signed there this past March. With that said, this week may finally be the game where he breaks out in a big way.
First of all, the Patriots’ defense has seen several players go down in recent weeks such as Aqib Talib, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Talib’s absence could directly impact Wallace in that none of the cornerbacks on the Patriots’ roster can match his speed and explosiveness one-on-one besides Talib. They also do not possess the physicality to jam him effectively at the line of scrimmage.
If Talib were healthy, he would be able to effectively jam Wallace at the line of scrimmage, disrupting his routes while taking his explosiveness out of the game. If you want to see an example of Talib previously doing this, you could examine what he did two weeks ago to TE Jimmy Graham. He was physically dominant against him, preventing him from gaining any separation, leading to him not catching a pass in the game.
With Talib either out or not at 100 percent come Sunday, Wallace should gain the upper hand, getting behind either a beaten-up Talib or a healthy Alfonzo Dennard at several points throughout the game. With all due respect to Dennard, he does not have the necessary skill set to contain Wallace for four quarters in a professional football game.
Another thing you could look at is Wallace’s success against the Patriots. In his career, Wallace has 15 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns in two games against the Patriots, despite the team focusing all of their efforts to contain him.
The only way that I can see Wallace being slowed down in the game is if the Patriots can get to QB Ryan Tannehill on a consistent basis. So far this season, the Dolphins have struggled mightily in pass protection, causing Wallace’s skill set to be severely limited.
If Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan and newcomer Andre Carter can keep the pressure on Tannehill, Wallace could be a dud this week. If not, he could finally have the statement game the Dolphins were hoping for when they paid him $60 million over five years in free agency.