Everything's cool between Ryan Tannehill and his alpha receiver Mike Wallace.
Yes, Wallace was upset after Sunday's victory that he caught only one pass, was targeted only five times and didn't get so much as a glance from Tannehill in the first half. But that has passed now, Tannehill said Wednesday.
“Yes, Mike was obviously in a tough spot at the end of that game but, everything is 100 percent normal in the locker room," Tannehill said. " He’s great, practicing hard every day, joking around. He’s his same old self, so we are looking forward to getting back on the field this week."
Well, if he's his same old self, he's going to want the ball on Sunday agaisnt Indianapolis. Coaches know this. Tannehill knows this.
Except that Tannehill feels no need to necessarily feed Wallace going forward.
"I’m going to play the quarterback position the way the coaches install the plays," Tannehill said. "I’m going to go through the reads just like they install it. We’re going to try and get him the ball when he’s in the play, but we’re not going to force him the ball."
This is very interesting to me. You see, this suggests Wallace simply wasn't in the play, so to speak, in the first half Sunday. But he suddenly got in the plays in the second half when he was targeted five times, including on the first play of the half?
So why not just get the guy in the play earlier?
It'll be interesting to monitor going forward.
It'll also be interesting to see how Tannehill handles a receiver with a petulant side. You'll remember Chad Henne kind of struggled to deal with Brandon Marshall, not that I blame him at times. Marshall was at times a handful.
Marino argued and exchanged curses with the Marks Brothers, even on the field, but the three knew they counted on each other for success and had a great relationship off the field.
So does Tannehill have the make up to handle Wallace when he's demanding more targets, more attention?
“Well you should know, receivers are always open, and I’ve been there before too," said the Dolphins quarterback and former college receiver. " No, these guys do a good job of being realistic on the sidelines. They’ll tell me exactly how the defense is playing them, what routes they like, what they think is there and that’s a big key. If a guy's just coming back saying I’m open on every play it’s tough to sift through that and find out what’s really good and we can implement during the game. When guys are truthful it really helps, and I think they’ve done a good job so far."
It also helps when the quarterback is the clear leader and the receiver understands that.
I must tell you, I saw some good signs from Tannehill in that regard Sunday. There were two snapshots that showed he's the leader and he has the respect of his teammates.
First, there was a moment when left guard Richie Incognito did what he sometimes does and got into debate shall we say with an opposing lineman. It had the potential to lead to pushing and shoving and a flag.
Tannehill stopped it by telling Incognito, an older player, to get back to the huddle.
"Yeah, he got into it a little bit," Tannehill said. "That’s my job on the field, to keep my guys focused on what we’re trying to do, which is go down and score. Obviously, football is an intense game, there’s a lot of emotion. Guys are going to get into it here and there but when its sidetracking us from what we’re trying to do, we ‘ve just got to focus, lock in and get ready for the next play."
Tannehill was a little harsher with receiver Rishard Matthews. The second-year receiver was getting hot and arguing with a Cleveland defender in the second half when Tannehill seemingly had enough and cursed out his teammate while demanding he get off the field.
The words were heard on television.
And off the field Matthews went.
"I forget what yard line we were on, but if we get a 15 yard penalty right there, it’s a long field goal and if we kick that field goal right there we put it at 13 points, a two touchdown game," Tannehill said. "We really didn’t need a dumb penalty right there and I just tried to get him off the field the best way I could."
Those are signs of leadership. We'll see if Mike Wallace will follow.