Watching the Baltimore Ravens offense was troubling, disturbing, if not frustrating.
Not because of anything the Ravens do, or did. But because of how the offense operates, even when not at full strength.
In my opinion the closest receiver in the NFL to Mike Wallace is Baltimore's Torrey Smith. Both are home run hitting receivers who draw cloud coverage regularly, and are called on to utilize their speed to create big plays.
In Baltimore's offense the Ravens move Smith around to create favorable matchups. And not just for Smith, but for the entire team. One snap he's the Z, one snap he's the Y, the next series he's the X.
The Ravens use Smith like a chess piece.
Larry Fitzgerald moves in Arizona. Brandon Marshall moves in Chicago. Andre Johnson moves in Houston, and Desean Jackson is all over the place in Philadelphia.
After four games Smith has caught 21 passes for 435 yards and has scored one touchdown for the Ravens. He's averaging 20.7 yards per reception, which is slightly higher than his career average of 17.8 yards per reception since joining the NFL in 2011.
Now let us take a look at Mike Wallace, whom I wrote a column about in Friday's newspaper, explaining how he's a mystery to everyone, INCLUDING the Dolphins coaching staff. READ IT PLEASE, because I wrote it for you. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU.
Wallace, who came to Miami averaging 17.1 yards per reception, is sparingly moves. He's on the right side of Miami's formation approximately 95 percent of Miami's plays. He's usually getting cloud coverage, and the only time the Dolphins throw deep to him is when Ryan Tannehill sees single-safety high looks, which are usually baited looks trying to get Miami to waste a down.
Why is Wallace, who came to the Dolphins averaging 17.1 yards per carry, so stagnant in Miami's offense?
“There are a number of reasons," coach Joe Philbin tried to explain. "Primarily, when we are in our quick tempo and moving things around, we want to get guys in a position where they can line up a little bit faster, get the play entry in and get the clock moving. That’s the primary reason.”
Hold up! Are the Dolphins a quick, uptempo team? NO. Rarely!
Even without huddling, how difficult would it be to put Wallace in motion, or have him line up as the slot?
Can keeping Wallace so stagnant in the offense be used against the Dolphins considering it doesn't challenge an opposing defensive coordinator, or possibly force confusion to opposing defenses?
Look at it from the reverse perspective. Wouldn't Torrey Smith vs. Jimmy Wilson is the slot scare the crap out of the Dolphins coaches?
“They can match up. There will not be a lot of mysteries to what side, as you mentioned, to where we line up," Philbin explained. "That’s their decision. I can’t speak to how much of an advantage it is.”
So, Philbin just said there's no mystery to the Dolphins offense? No attempt to confuse defenses, no desire to create favorable mismatches?
That's a head-scratcher!
“There’s different ways of doing it," Philbin said, explaining why Wallace doesn't get moved. "That’s just a decision we made, and that’s how we do it. I don’t know if there is a specific downside to it.”
WELL, I'd say having the Dolphins' most expensive player, and the biggest offensive playmaker serve as a decoy is a major downside.
Wallace has 15 catches for 176 yards and one touchdown, but most of those stats come from his Colts game, which was a game Indianapolis gave him a lot of off coverage looks, and he turned those looks into nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
It is highly unlikely that another NFL team will cover Wallace with off coverage again. Why would they if he's contained in man coverage with a safety over the top?
Every NFL team's strategy will likely be to make everyone else on the Dolphins offense beat them, and it appears the Dolphins are comfortable with that.
But is Wallace?
"I’m not trying to lead the league in yards or catches. I’m definitely not the only guy getting these coverages, but other guys still make plays," said Wallace, who is tied with Brandon Gibson for the second most targets (28) on the team, and also tied with him for a team-leading three drops.
"There’s no excuse for me to use. I look at it as a weak point in my game if guys are covering me and I can’t get open. That’s weak on my part," Wallace told the Sun-Sentinel. "If I want to be the player I set out to be I can’t use that as an excuse. I feel like I should still be getting open, still be making plays."
But is he being put in position to succeed by the Dolphins coaching staff?
"It is an adjustment standing on one side, but it is something I’m getting used to. Sometimes you want to go to the other side because there are certain mismatches in certain games. You want to get to a cornerback, or you want to run a certain route off a certain coverage," Wallace said. "But that’s just not the way the offense is. Every day I learn to accept it. I’m not going against it. I’m just continuing to play and continuing to work."
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