Getting my feet back under me after returning from the AFC Championship game, I will be very busy today. Let's start with a little free agency chatter.
In talking to various NFL people the last few days, including some Pittsburgh Steelers folks, I obviously asked about players the Dolphins might be interested in going forward in free agency. This is what I learned about likely free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace and how that lines up with myths we've all heard about him and some of you have posted on this blog:
Myth No. 1 -- Mike Wallace was so disappointing this past season he was benched by coach Mike Tomlin: False. During the week prior to the Dec. 12 game against Baltimore, Tomlin was clearly unhappy with his team's course and the production of some players. And so that week he announced that Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders would be listed as "co-starters" on the depth chart rather than Wallace being the guy. Wallace was coming off a disappointing game against Cleveland and Sanders was in the midst of good season so much was written about the changing of the guard, so to speak. Well on game day, do you know what happened? Wallace started against Baltimore. He was not benched. Wallace actually missed one start during the year -- that in the final week when he played only sparingly against Cleveland. The reason? He was troubled throughout the week with a hip injury and it prevented him from practicing and starting.
[Update: Looked at it further and Wallace actually missed the season-finale because of the injury. But, again, he was not benched.]
Myth No. 2 -- Mike Wallace runs only go-routes: False. While Wallace is primarily a deep threat and has not been used very often in routes across the field, his routes repertoire was expanded this season to allow him to use his world-class speed in other ways. He ran in-cuts and outs. Is he an expert at those routes? No, he probably needs improvement. But is that the best use of one of the NFL's best deep threat receivers? Fair question. Look, Mark Duper didn't run crossing routes. He was a deep threat, down the sideline guy. He averaged a whopping 17.4 yards per catch and 7.7 touchdowns per season over his career. Pretty good right? Wallace has averaged 17.2 yards per catch and 8 touchdowns per season so far. Any questions?
Myth No. 3 -- Mike Wallace drops passes: True. The guy dropped more passes this year than in past years. He dropped four passes in a game against Cincinnati. He blamed the issue on losing focus because the new offense instituted by offensive coordinator Todd Haley didn't always find him early on in games. Wallace said it was tough to play sometimes two or three quarters without a target and suddenly have the ball come to him. Excuse? I think so. On the other hand, name me a receiver that doesn't drop the ball sometimes.
Myth No. 4 -- Mike Wallace only cares about money and will disappear once he gets paid: Hard to be unequivocal here because this involves predicting the future. But I was told the guy is a hard-worker. I was told he is a good guy in the locker room. I was told he "cares about winning." I was told he is "a pleasure to work with." Does that guarantee he won't cruise once he gets paid? No. But he doesn't sound like someone who would be inclined to do that.
BLOG NOTE: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland is talking to the media at the Senior Bowl today. I will get you an update on what he says later. So make sure to refresh often or come back for the update.