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Tannehill, Wallace need to connect more in practice

MIke Wallace caught slant pass from Ryan Tannehill midway through practice Monday and about 40 minutes later caught a deep pass from the starting quarterback over the top of the defense for a touchdown.

That was good.

That was also it.

Tannehill targeted Wallace three times in practice and the duo connected twice. And that's fine except when you consider that Tannehill actually attempted more passes to reserve receiver Brian Tyms. And tight end Dustin Keller. And Brian Hartline. And just as many to Jeff Fuller, another reserve receiver who may or may not be on the team in three weeks.

So if you ask me are the Dolphins feeding the Tannehill-to-Wallace connection a good diet in practice, I would say absolutely not. The fact is Monday's work was pretty much typical of what has happened in all the practices I've witnessed this training camp when counting Tannehill-to-Wallace connections.

Sometimes they hook up twice in a practice. Sometimes three times. Rarely more than that. Sometimes they go an entire practice and don't connect at all. Meanwhile, Tannehill connects with Keller all the time. He has a definite chemistry with Hartline. And he seems pretty comfortable throwing to Brandon Gibson as well.

All that is good -- except that none of those other guys are the caliber of playmaker that Mike Wallace is. None are being paid what the Dolphins are paying Wallace. None are feared around the NFL as Wallace is feared.

So why is Wallace catching fewer passes in practice than his peers? And, incredibly, why on this day was he targeted fewer times than a receiver who is fighting for a No. 4 or No. 5 WR job?

Perhaps I'm making too much of this. But it has happened on a number of days that I've watched practice. And, if you believe like coach Joe Philbin does, that practice is important and eventually will reflect what we see in games, then this trend is potentially alarming.

Tannehill doesn't seem to throw nearly enough to Wallace in practice to suggest this is going to be an elite combination in the NFL this season.

(Return of the peanut gallery here: But Mando, you're just a dumb columnist who never played the game and you're making a big deal out of nothing and, after all, Allen Iverson said this is just practice.)

Fine. So I asked Wallace the simple question: Is he getting enough passes thrown to him in practice from Ryan Tannehill?

"Ahhhh, I think it's going to come," he said seemingly surprised by the question. "Obviously I didn't practice for like a week and a half so that kind of takes away shots I would have had. But I think I get enough balls. Well, I wouldn't say ... We have a lot of periods in practice so you're going to catch a lot of passes. At the same time we have so many guys and there's so much going on so fast that you're not always going to ge the ball."

Stop right there. Wallace is a professional. He's not a troublemaker. But neither is he a liar. So he's clearly hedging his answer. He obviously doesn't want to say something that could potentially make folks look bad. But neither does he want to suggest something that is so clear is not true. He also doesn't want to sound like he's complaining.

So he just talked in circles a little bit.

"You know, there are certain plays that my coach wants to see me in and for those plays I make sure I get the rep and I get extra plays as well," Wallace said. "But there are certain plays he wants to see me run a certain route and I might not get the ball but this is the look we'll look for. I understand what's going on so you're not going to see too much frustration out of me just like I need to do this or that. I feel like I'm doing a great job at doing the things I plan to work on -- just getting in my spots and learning the offense. I feel like I'm a playmaker on the field. That's what I do. I'm not really worried about that. As long as I know where I'm going and I'm able to play fast, I think I'll be fine."

So to recap, does Mike Wallace think he's seeing enough passes from Tannehill in practice?

Ahhhh, at some point that will happen. I was injured for a while. I get enough passes. Well, maybe. We've got a lot of guys on the team and they have to get there's so I'm not always going to get the ball. There are plays I'm just running to see what the defense is doing. I'm not going to get too frustrated about this. I'm not complaining. I'll be fine.


The only reason this is even a minor issue is because Wallace made his preseason debut last Friday and didn't catch a pass. Indeed, Tannehill never looked at him.

Was he open?

"I had a couple of shots out there we could have took," Wallace said. "But there's a lot of things that go into that. Obviously, it's not just me getting open. We have a lot going into that so everything has to flow together and I think we'll take care of it and I think we'll hit those shots I think we have."

Yes, getting the ball to Wallace deep means the offensive line has to block well and give Tannehill time. And then the QB has to feel confident about throwing it to Wallace.

Neither of those happened against Jacksonville.

"There was one where we came out and started a drive with a play," Tannehill said. "I ended up moving around and hitting Gibson over the middle, but going back and looking at it, I could have stayed in the pocked a little bit, just pushed up and kept my eyes downfield. Mike ended up winning on the outside. Other than that, that’s kind of the way the game fell."

The Dolphins studied the tape of the Jacksonville game and say they are committed to improving their ability to getting the ball downfield to Wallace.

"That’s one thing we are working on this week is using the pocket, getting a little bit better protection, but using what I have to do better, stepping up and finding a way to get the ball downfield," Tannehill said.

The irony here is that in a practice where that's a focus, Wallace only caught two passes. In a practice where the idea is to get the ball deep, Tannehill is throwing to Tyms more often. Really?

Obviously, it is still early. The Dolphins have the chance to multiply many times what we're seeing so far. But how that's going to happen in games, particularly ones that count in the regular season, if it doesn't happen in practice stumps me.

That has to change. Soon.

Because if Mike Wallace continues to catch only a couple of passes from Tannehill in practice, he's not catching two or three times that many in real games.


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Good Morning Dolphans!

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here is a prediction.

They will start up before the last preseason game.

1. Wallace is a team player. thats nice

2. They dont want to show the world anything

3. RT wants to get the complete package going before getting involved with Mike on a reg basis.

think brian hartline and preseason last year.

Another blog that is much ado about nothing. These coaches are not going to force feed the ball to Wallace during practice because they a) don't want to give much away about what plays they have in the book and b) they know Wallace will be here, they do not know who the #4 and #5 receiver will be.

Would it be nice to have seen a little more, sure. This however is not a Brandon Marshall situation whereby the ball had to be thrown to him almost exclusively. So far Wallace has seemed mature and happy to be a team player. Not the prima-donna so many Pitt fans said he would be.

Good commentaries late last night. From now on, I will try to limit myself to just read the Blog and make commentaries only on what is known that the media reported and not my opinions. Better for everybody, I think.

This just in... we need air to breath to survive

Well Mr. Doom-n-Gloom, maybe the Fins don't want to show their hand in preseason games and save the big plays for the games that count. From what I read on some of the other blogs, you seem to miss a lot of what's going on down on the field anyway (Note he says "in all the practices I've witnessed").

Not to mention that camp is a time for evaluating who will still be on the team in a couple of weeks. They probably already know what Wallace is capable of.

I understand Armando's point on this. I guess we will see this weekend then!

I believe our slogan should be ( walk slow drink water)! But its ( its our time now)? Well that remains to be seen but I will get behind it if we have a fast start, but I really wonder about that?

When Wallace goes on to have career low production this season, remember this article.

Just about everyone above said what I was thinking.....Maybe the phins just don't want to show their hand maybe Thill and Wallace connect just fine in closed practices and don't need to show it to the world yet. I believe you reported that they connected on 2 of 3 passes, like someone said the phins know who 1,2 &3 are but need more reps to see who 4&5 are. Tell me more about the o-line thats the biggest weak spot on the team IMO.

What a ridiculous idea to suggest that the reason that Tannehill isn't throwing to Wallace is due to some undercover scheme to hide plays. Slants, go's, seam routes are used in high school. No secret. The issue Mando is raising is that he isn't even throwing in his direction. And that is kinda stupid.

Tannehill and Wallace, need to watch more lobstertube together

I think at this point the coaches want to see what WR on the bottom of the depth chart can make plays and start to sort out the roster. I think the last 2 weeks of camp as they start to prepare for the opener Wallace will be targeted more - if not then there is an issue.

Any decent coach would realize this has to be worked on more in practice period. Even if it has to be forced (in practice). The timing and placement must be worked on now or we will never see it in a game.

Ie, opposing defenses will continue to stack the box until Tannehill proves his deep connection is a real threat.

This has been my point in previous post about this team.....
they TALK a big game....but do NOTHING to back it up....
HOW does it make sense to NOT throw to your #1 receiver in practice?!
Philbin is TOO cerebral in approach and at some point it comes down to PHYSICALLY making plays and PHYSICALLY PRACTICING things!
It's just stupid....


Tannehill needs to force this for near term practices and next 1-2 preseason games.....gotta feed Wallace more, totally agree......plus that will open things up for the other WRs and offense in general--develop chemistry now, not by Week 6.

u have to have time to throw the ball to anyone. RT17 was running for his life almost every drop back.


Not too concerned at this moment. Remember last year Tannehill and Hartline did not have much time to get accustomed to each other at game speed due to Hartlines injury, and yet they had a decent season.

Definitely need to work on the chemistry. Not unusual for a prolific WR to find himself on a new team and never be as productive again. Injuries have got in the way a bit but Mando is right. These two should be working together constantly.

And a little lobstertube wouldn't hurt.

u need a qb 2 trow 2 wallace.

useless article.

take a looksy at da 1st 5 games and any of ya'll tink the phinz can be f'king patient.?

gtf outa here.

Posted by: spree | August 13, 2013 at 08:15 AM

the only bad thing about this is Big Ben had much success on busted plays from the line letting someone through when throwing to Wallace.
I feel most of Armondos posts have a negative twist to them and feel this one is obvious but they need to connect more in practice.

You don't force the ball to 1 receiver at the expense of all the others. If Tannehill had not thrown to Wallace at all, that would be an issue, but the ball has been thrown in his direction plenty of times.

Wallace is not being used as just the deep guy. He has been thrown the ball plenty of times on shorter routes too

I would take much of what Mando reports as having not happened with a pinch of salt. The plays that have been reported on other blogs but missed by Mando could fill a 200 page novel.

True, matty, Big Been took a lot of beatings waiting for things to open up downfield. Tannehill tried that once on Friday but the line couldn't hold and he had to scramble. And Philbin and the WCO probably doens't have a lot fo time and patience for busted plays because of the timing aspect of the offense. We will see a lot more slants and digs from Wallace this year. His deep route will be a crossing route more often than not - hoping to catch the ball in space and in rhythm and putting up YAC

Wallace will not be a 100 catch guy. Let's get that out the way right now.

The Fins more than likely have been practicing what they will really run when the media isn't around for half a practice.

This article is pointless says the Peanut Gallery. Hartline missed all of last preseason and still lead the team in receptions. And this season T-Hill doesn't have to adjust to the whole offense or the Speed of the game.

The Chemistry will be there when it counts.

One thing is for sure. T-Hill has a better arm than Ben Rothlesberger. He's Constantly over throwing Wallace.


It's like you are a modern Paul Revere. Every single day. Every single day.

Wallace has never caught a ton of balls. He's a 2-5 reception guy but those 2-5 receptions are usually big plays. The problem won't be Tannehill and Wallace. The problem will be the offensive line holding up long enough to let those few big plays happen.

Philbin knows some of these Sfla sportswriters are in cahoots with other teams. So he isn't going to show everything so a certain writer doesn't run to the Jets and tell them what we are practicing.

I don't think this situation is the same as the hartline situation. Wallace is there and Tannehill won't look for him. Wallace will not be 100 catches, agreed, I think he gets most of Davonne Bess' receptions from last year and just does more with them.

Keller will lead the team in receptions - this much is obvious. Tannehill really eats up the middle of the field with this guy. Last year he was forced to do everything on the outside - the easiest part to defend.

It will be different this year.

This is not a Tanhill to Wallace problem. This is an O-line problem. This line looks very weak maybe to early in camp to say this, but maybe we have an o-line leadership void. These guys looked better last fall.

It could still come around, but if our qb's are running for their life every game its going to be a very long season. And Keller and Clay are going to get a lot of dump passes. You cant go deep without time from the line.

Our o-line is big problem right now! Go Dolphins!!

Jake Long - I ain't as good as I once was
But I'm as good once as I ever was

Losing your ace on the o line is a problem. ironically though the problem on Friday wasn't the left side but it was the new guys on the right. Clabo once got beat and the other time Samuda lost his job he got beat so bad. Jerry's return will improve this, even Garner (who for some reason wasn't the first guy up after Jerry) will be better there. I hope anyway

I wanna look at this with aqua-tinted glasses on and say the Dolphins are just hiding their cards with Wallace until the regular season hits and then they will unleash him, but I'm a realist.

There's no secret in running really fast down the field. Defensive coordinators aren't stupid. They know Wallace excels at the deep game, so why would the Dolphins need to hide that?

Tannehill has looked shaky at times this preseason. Yes, I understand the offensive line hasn't given him much, if any, help, and he's had to worry so much about not getting sacked that he hasn't had much time to look downfield, but if the Dolphins offense is gonna make the leap they keep saying they're capable of making, Wallace needs to be more involved. Period.

Curious what all of you think the Dolphins record will be heading into the bye week?

@Saints (monday)

0-5. maybe 1-4.maybe.

0-5. if mm is inserted in 1 of the 5,then 1-4.

A follow up question to that is, what do feel would be acceptable in terms of record, or what would make you start wondering about coaching/quarterback changes etc..?

That is barring any injuries to key players

if the phinz r 0-5 w.thenne and mm or devlin isn't in there after the bye.

The key game is against Tampa when the first team O and D will get a fair bit of playing time. Hitting Wallace deep will come from broken plays when Tannehill has to scramble, and coverages break down.

I suspect our coaches are hoping to use Wallace on more of the short and intermediate routes to give him the best chance of getting YAC. We have seen quite a bit of this already in practice. Mando makes it sound as if Tannehill has ignored Wallace, he hasn't as the other blogs have talked about plenty of plays the 2 of them have connected on.

Tannehill to Wallace,

Practice makes perfect I agree. But this team still has 3 more preseason games, 2 of which Tannehill and Wallace will be able to work together and a little less then a months were of practices to go. I think they will get it together. Wallace also missed a week and half of practice and the first preseason game vs Dallas so naturally Tannehill has a better comfort level with those other guys. Wallace is right his time will come and is coming.

Rhino, I'm predicting 3-2 with wins over the Browns, Colts, and Ravens.

Unless they are 0-5 I would not worry about a coach/GM/QB change at that point in time.

Pretty good points in this article Mando. I believe the chemistry will come though. No reason to overreact at this stage.

Yeah...thats gospel...kind of like we didn't RUN the ball at all last camp but the running game worked out pretty darn good during the season...why run a horse to death if you know the horse is the best one on the track??? These folks know what they are doing...you...do not...

Wallace is a 45-50 catch guy at the most. He is valuable because he will open up more opportunities for other guys.

@09:11, I would say either 2-3 or 3-2.

Cleveland and Indy don't frighten me, and think we could beat the Ravens. Just can't see us beating the Falcons or the Saints.

I think 2-3 or better and I won't be panicking. If we end 1-4 or 0-5, questions will need to be asked.

Gee thanks man...so no more attempts at post for me...

To the guys that keep saying Dolphins dont want to "show their hands", WTH are you talking about?? Opponents dont review practice to go over film, they review game tapes, so Dolphins "showing the cards" in this case is illogical.

This is one of Armnado best blog post, Tannheill needs to make a conscious effort to get Mike Wallace the ball in practice and it will translates over to the games, its not the other way around. Its obvious he's lacking chemistry with Wallace, unlike Hartline, Keller. Sherman needs to inform Tanne thats the 60 million dollar man and he needs touches.

Its still early hopefully we'll see some improvements as Pre Season comes to an end. Good Article Mando!

Why is everyone giving the Saints that game? that defense is historically bad and that Saints O line will have trouble withour front 7...

Why is everyone giving the Saints that game? that defense is historically bad and that Saints O line will have trouble withour front 7...

Jack, I'm having problems posting too

I think 2-3 or 3-2 is most realistic. Cleveland and Indy do not frighten me at all, and feel we have a chance against Baltimore.

For me to start worrying it would need to be 0-5 or 1-4 at the bye week. Key for me is that first game against Cleveland. It is vital we win that first game to go into a tricky run of 4 games with some confidence.


Just adding Keller, Gibson, and L.Miller to this offense, the Dolphins Will Have More Big Plays. Wallace just completes the Offense.

Why get Wallace hurt?

We need him for 16 games and Playoffs.

Same with Keller. I've seen enough of him in the Preseason.

The Fins play an Extra game. This should be treated as Game #3 for some people and Game #2 to others.

We should be talking about our Secondary going against the Texans.

The Big Elephant in the Room. JJ Watts Swatting Passes. Let's see if T-Hill has developed any from that Horrendous opening.

I will be OK with a TD Drive by the 1st Team Offense. And the 1st Team Defense to Play like a 1st Team Defense.

Now would I start Devlin before Moore this week?

Without a Question. Devlin is moore Accurate, moore Safer, moore Efficient, Just mo' Better than M.Moore.


Maybe Armando you should be a coach NOT...let Philbin coach and you continue try writing which unfortunately isn't great as you jump way to early to conclusions..Dolphins are being coy, Wallace is a pro as well as Tannehill and they will connect just fine. Why show that combo now for all to see.

jordan hurt* his shoulder,not tweaked it.
oscar, put devlin in 2 start.

Atlanta will be one game we will miss Sean Smith. he would've been good against those big wideouts....

Does this make me the anti 2 watt???

I see 0-5 before the bye week. All 5 of those teams are better than the Dolphins. Brandon Weeden is supposedly playing out of his mind so far in Browns camp...Andrew Luck is a stud...Matt Ryan...Drew Brees...Joe Flacco......OUCH

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