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Plummeting numbers for Wallace, Fins deep balls; Oden 'ways away'; Fins, Heat, UM chatter

Wednesday update: The Dolphins are bringing back linebacker Austin Spitler to fill one of two roster openings created yesterday when Kelcie McCray and Tyler Clutts were cut. 

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

If there’s one thing we thought we could count on in the Dolphins offense, it was the presence of a better deep passing game. So it’s surprising that Miami is actually on pace to complete far fewer deep balls this season (12) than last year (20), when the Dolphins offense was often punchless.

And though Ryan Tannehill’s overall growth (the Saints game aside) is encouraging, the deep ball metrics –- and Mike Wallace’s degree of involvement –- are somewhat unsettling. Consider:

### On balls thrown 20 yards or more in the air, Tannehill has completed only three of nine such passes, for 86 yards. Only Kansas City has thrown fewer deep balls than Miami, and only the Chiefs, Jaguars and Lions have completed fewer. That’s disappointing for an offense whose most dangerous weapon is a receiver with elite speed.

By comparison, Philip Rivers has completed 8 of 17 deep balls (for 269), Aaron Rodgers 9 of 16 (305), Peyton Manning 7 of 14 (220) and even Geno Smith 12 of 21 (433), among many others. For his career, Tannehill has completed 23 of 60 such deep balls, which is mediocre.

### Wallace caught an NFL-high 14 passes thrown 20 yards or more in 2010, nine in 2011 and six in 2012. His 2012 numbers were impacted by Todd Haley taking over as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh.

This season? He has only one such catch (for 34 yards), in seven throws, including one dropped pass. (He has three drops overall.) No wonder his yards per reception has dipped to 11.7, well below his 16.9 career average and just 61st in the league.

Asked Tuesday if wants more deep balls, Wallace said, “Yeah” before the Dolphins intervened and said he had talked enough today.

Asked if the Dolphins need to throw deep more to Wallace, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said that’s “easy to say [but] coverage dictates a lot of that. We’re getting more two safety-looks to take away deeper looks. We called 12 deep balls [Monday]. They didn’t go there because coverage didn’t allow it to go there. You can’t force things when they’re not there.”

### Pro Football Focus ranks Wallace 101 of 103 receivers, and his 176 receiving yards through four games ranks 53rd in the league, behind Davone Bess, four rookies and two Steelers (Jerrico Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders), among many others. For Wallace, it’s his worst four-game yardage total to start a season, and the third-worst total of any four-game stretch in his career.

### Tannehill has completed 15 of the 28 passes thrown to Wallace, and that 53.6 percent completion rate is 79th in the league and by far the worst of any Dolphins offensive player. Of course, Wallace gets thrown more deep balls than others, which skews the numbers downward. But Charles Clay is at 80 percent, Brandon Gibson 71.4 and Brian Hartline 70.

Asked if it could take a year to develop chemistry with Tannehill, Wallace said Tuesday: “We don’t have a year to wait. It’s a big season for us. You never know. It could take one day or it could take a year. We need it now. We have to connect on plays. I think we’re on the same page for the most part.”

Sherman said the progression in the Tannehill/Wallace relationship "is about where I thought it would be. I want him to catch a lot of balls. Even when he's not catching balls, he's creating opportunities for others."

Can the Dolphins offense still thrive without many deep balls to Wallace? Yes, if everything else is done with precision. But the Dolphins expected a quick-strike element, and Wallace and everyone around this team hope that comes sooner rather than later. 

CHATTER

### Even with Cameron Wake out, No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan logged only 23 snaps Monday (he had one quarterback hurry), compared with Olivier Vernon’s 71 (he graded out well) and Derrick Shelby’s 51. Coaches are simply more comfortable using Vernon and Shelby against the run.... Wake and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle are hopeful about his chances of playing Sunday.

As for second-round rookie Jamar Taylor, he made his debut with 29 snaps but allowed all three passes thrown against him to be caught, for 60 yards. Coyle said coaches opted for Taylor over third-round rookie Will Davis (who showed ball-hawking skills in preseason) because Taylor had a better week of practice and can play more positions (both the slot and on the outside).

### Please see the last two posts for highlights of what Coyle, Sherman and Joe Philbin said today, and how the Dolphins reacted to insults spewed by Saints linebacker Junior Gallette.

### Though Greg Oden says he believes he’s ready to play short minutes in a game, he participated in only half of practice Tuesday (mostly non-contact) and Shane Battier said: “He’s got a ways to go, a ways to go. It’s going to take a lot of work by him, a lot of patience. We’ll integrate him quickly when he’s ready, but he’s a ways away.”

How so? “Just playing at an NBA level,” Battier said. That's why Erik Spoelstra left open the possibility that it could be two or three months before he plays in a game, while insisting there's no timetable.

Rashard Lewis said Oden played in his first pickup game in 3 1/2 years last week, but he was only allowed to play in one of five games held that day. Lewis said Oden ran the court well considering his long layoff.

On the positive side, “he was dunking everything” in the pickup game last week, Heat guard Roger Mason Jr. said. Lewis concurred, saying Oden was very strong in the basket area.

And Udonis Haslem said: “The skill level is there. The left-handed touch, the right-handed touch. Dunking. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen see.”

### Haslem said Kevin Durant saying publicly that James Harden should replace Dwyane Wade in Sports Illustrated's list of the top 10 NBA players was “shocking. I took it personal. It makes me mad. That’s why they call me ‘Angry Black Man.’

"Dwyane doesn’t get mad about that. He gets motivated. People have to learn to stop motivating this guy. You would think after 11 years, they would figure that out.”

### Mason said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau called him last week, trying to talk him out of signing with Miami by telling him the Bulls soon would offer him a guaranteed deal. Oklahoma City told him the same.

“It was a leap of faith to take a non-guaranteed one-year deal here,” he said. “But they can use another outside shooting threat here, with Mike Miller leaving, and I have a lot of confidence in my ability.”

Spoelstra said: “His skill set is a fit for how we play, the way he shoots the ball. We tried getting him five years ago.”

### UM’s Al Golden smiled Tuesday when reminded of Jimmy Johnson’s philosophy to treat every player differently. Though he disciplined Duke Johnson for his two goal-line fumbles by not allowing him to wear a first-team jersey Tuesday, it would seem highly unlikely for playing time to be affected and it should not be.

Here's how Golden approaches disciplining a star, in Johnson's case: “It was a careless mistake. For anyone to do that, there has to be consequences,” Golden said. “You cannot freelance when we clearly tell them what the parameters are in terms of goal-line running. It’s easy to sit in those chairs as his teammate and say, ‘He’s treating Duke differently.’

But “there’s a lot of good bank built up” with Johnson. “There’s a lot of carries he got rocked and carried it well.”

Johnson said coaches told him this about the fumbles: “That’s unacceptable. You can’t do that."

He said the first fumble, in which he reached across the goal-line, "was bad judgment." The second was "a horrible play," he told our Susan Miller Degnan.

### Brad Kaaya, a critical piece of UM's 2014 recruiting class and Rivals.com's No. 8 quarterback prospect, received an offer from hometown UCLA today. His mother said UCLA "is an awesome program that he respects. At this time, he is committed to the University of Miami.”

But the Los Angeles Times reported today that UCLA's offer will be considered. "Any kid in Los Angeles would be interested in UCLA," said Ed Croson, his coach at Chaminade High in Hollywood Hills. "He's firmly committed to Miami, but I think he's flattered."

### When David Gilbert, an honorable mention All-Big 10 player at Wisconsin, transferred to UM, his body of work suggested he might start ahead of Shayon Green at defensive end.

But Green continues to impress coaches with how strong he is against the run, and he has justified playing on first and second down. And Gilbert –- who plays on some third-down pass rush packages -- needed time to improve his conditioning.

“I’m sure David would like to start,” Golden said today. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of David Gilbert yet.”

Comments

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EvilSpockGoatee

Wallace is becoming an irritant. Does he want them to throw the ball to him more so he can lead the league in drops? Start catching the ball and maybe Sherman will consider the request. Tanny dropped a pass right in the bucket on a fly route, cb didn't get a finger on the ball and it bounced through Wallace's hands. Would have been a game changer. Instead he drops passes and runs his mouth. Tell Wallace to take some of his 60 million dollars down to Sports Authority and buy some Stick'um

Mike

How can you trust coaches who think Daniel Thomas should be playing?

EvilSpockGoatee

Maybe they have Thomas on their fantasy team. Conspiracy! Wouldn't that be something though if news broke that a coach was padding a player's stats so he could win his fantasy league?

Craig Singleton

Dolphins coaches say they want a premier rb, then leave Lamar. Muller in the game!

Craig Singleton

Every time they take Miller out and put in Thomas, the drive stalls.

Joe r

Barry,
Good analysis on the deep passes. The defenses know this too and are reacting accordingly...until tannehill can prove he can get wallace the ball(quit blaming wallace for drops, those passes are not good) then the defenses will take away the short to medium stuff and sherman isnt going to throw much deep....phins have some real problems on offense moving forward

Kevin

Thanks Barry for the stats on the deep ball. I am no NFL Offensive Coordinator but I think you would get creative with Wallace. I see that Calvin and Andre Johnson get the ball and other top level WRs get it also.If coaches expect their players to improve then they need to as well. Sherman has to get better as well.Gruden said on the game that our guys play the same side. How about Wallace in the slot? Every WR has drops, something you live with but there has to be more chances taken.We didnt pay 60 mill for Wallace to be a decoy. The same with Miller. He was running at 5 yds a clip and then on 3rd and inches you put in Thomas? Sherman needs to step up and get better and stop making excuses.

Coral Gables'81

This entire issue of the deep ball is an offensive system issue. First of all Tannehill needs enough time to survey the field. Wallace needs enough game reps to get acclimated, and Miami needs to run the ball more with Miller to release a lot of the pressure off of the passing game.

9>5>2

Tannehill is getting a pass. Heneeds to be called out for his turnovers. He is becominga turnover machine. THAT kilss drives and loses games. Unacceptable. And I agree with the post about Lamar Miller. Seems that he was ina groove for a while vs NOrl and bam! out he goes. Come on Philbin. Seriously?
Philbin also needs to be called out. His passive demeanor showed how timid he his. How do you not go for 4th and inches at Norl, when the opposite means giving theball back to De Brees. The net effect was a TD. Worse outcome they score anyway with a short foeld but consume less clock!. Coaches are afraid to lose.

One thingI have to say about Brad Kaaya and UCLA: uh oh.

But no mattter what- the U is rising fast towards a NC. UCLA is decades away. first they have Oregon. Second, USC no way will remain this bad. and pretty soon UCLA will go back to being USCs beeotch

jmike

Joe r they showed the replay of the long DROP, the ball went right through his hands. I don't know what game you were watching.

Finssuckasusual

LMAO...same ole fins the last 40 yrs. Philbin had the first momentum killer when instead of a qb sneak he runs a SWEEP?! Idiot! Ha couldve at least tried something innovative (like his 49er qb read run) and play actioned to the TE...butt noooo..a sweep. Idiotic. Then Tannehill has 2 turnovers as the D started playing better. Well that was the end of that. Dumb Tannehill. We were going toe to toe with them until turnovers got us away from the game plan. And the D?! I liked last yrs lbs better. Our dbs are horrific and dumb. Mismatches by idiots who werent awake! A db on 6'8 TE while a LBSTANDING 5 FT AWAY is on Colston, their fastest guy?!!! SWITCH! THINK ON YOUR FEET!!!!!!!! MORONS...and Wallace is the usual overrated Ireland guy. Terrible. And SHERMAN?!!!! uh dummy, other teams have no problem going deep you moron!Dont gimme that two safety crap idiot! R U SERIOUS?!!!u think we r idiots???!!!

TK SWANN

LOOK I WAS AN STILL AM THE BIGGEST MIKE WALLACE ADVOCATE AND I'M FULLY AWARE OF THE PROBLEM I SEE. IT'S SHERMAN!! I KNOW SHERMAN DOESN'T CATCH PASSES BUT WE'VE BEEN THRU OTA'S,MINI CAMP AND 4 GAMES INTO THE SEASON AND YOU CANNOT CALL PLAYS TO GET THIS MAN THE BALL?? BULL S..T! SHERMAN HAS A PROBLEM WITH 'STAR AFRICAN AMERICAN" PLAYERS WHO GRAB THE SPOT LIGHT. THIS IS WHY REGGIE BUSH IS GONE,WHY WE GOT RID OF B MARSHALL AND CUT CHAD JOHNSON, ALSO WHEN DANSBY CHALLENGE PHILBIN LOOK WHAT HAPPEN TO HIM AND DO NOT SAY THUS FAR THINGS HAVE BEEN AN UPGRADE.. THE LAST TWO GAMES MILLER WAS ABOUT TO BREAK OUT AND SHERMAN TOOK HIM OUT AND NEVER REALLY TRIED TO USE HIM AGAIN EXCEPT THAT BULLCRAP SCREEN PASS THAT NEVER WORKS.. IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE THE FINS OFFENSE GAME WITH WALLACE THAN 1) THROW DEEP EARLY AND MORE THAN ONCE. 2) THROW THE DEEP SKINNY POST OR SQUARE IN WHERE THE SAFETY JUST VACATED DEEP.3) A 20 -25 YARD BACK SHOULDER FADE ALONG THE SIDELINE THIS IS THE ROUTE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO STOP. 4) ANY TIME TANNEHILL COMES TO THE LINE AND THE DB IS OFF WALLACE 8-10 YARDS THROW THE "BUBBLE SCREEN" ONE MISSED TACKLE OR BAD ANGLE AND WALLACE IS GONE.. THESE ROUTES WILL WORK EVERY WEEK ON ANY DB.. GO FINS !! C'MON SHERMAN!

hman

Wallace is turning out to be a bust for Miami, cries that isn't getting enough throws and when he does he can't catch them, alot of money for nothing, would have been better off spendin g that money on the O line

Drew

Don't know if you guys noticed. The two teams with the least amour of deep balks thrown are 7-1. Just saying.

Bubba

You have to be able to catch. Wallace hasn't helped us any yet.

Rob

Relax fans. We are 3-1. We have great opportunities here and we need to back the entire team. Real fans are critics but support the whole team!!!! Let's GO FINS!!!!

Reggie Robys jock strap

Joe r mustn't actually watch the games if he really thinks that deep ball Wallace dropped was T-hill's fault. T-hill made tons of mistakes Monday night. That wasn't one of them.

Here's my conspiracy theory: Daniel Thomas was drafted in the 2nd round, while Lamar Miller was drafted in the 4th. Maybe Ireland is pushing for DT to get some snaps so he doesn't look like yet another Irebust.

TK SWANN

HEY ROB YOU'RE RIGHT WE ARE 3-1 AND I STILL FEEL WE CAN WIN 10/11 GAMES BUT ONLY IF THE RIGHT ADJUSTMENTS ARE FIXED.. MAINLY THE OL !! ARE THERE ANY OL UNEMPLOYED WHO CAN DO A BETTER JOB ? WHAT ABOUT THE GUY FROM PHILLY WHO WE PICKED UP? HE CANNOT BE ANY WORST.. FIX THE OL,GET MILLER 100 YARDS RUSHING THE NEXT 3 GAMES,GET WALLACE THE BALL ENOUGH TO GET HIM 100 YARDS THE NEXT 3 GAMES,STOP THE DUMB PLAY CALLING(3&INCH SWEEP)AND THIS TEAM WILL WIN ALL 3 GAMES.. YES THAT INCLUDES NE.. GO FINS!!

Don Devine

Wallace wants more deep balls? Maybe he should focus on catching whats thrown to him first! Has he caught a deep ball? How man? One? This guy needs to get real and focus more on being a contributor. I saw his drop on the deep ball thrown his way against New Orleans. He didnt even try to get it. It appears Mike wallace is the kind of receiver that wants it given right to him so as to avoid any effort on his part. Screw him, we have much better receivers on the field.

J. Scrog

I agree Don, how many drops did #11 have against the Saints, three? Also, the last pick was on him for quitting on the route. He can be a great player if he would focus on his job.

Haik

Huge mistake ridding Bush

Captcrunch

We all want to see more deep balls...caught.
We are 3-1 so let's not start burning jerseys and trying to hang Philbin in effigy. But We need to see more ZZZHAZZAMMM from the offense!

jon

All wallace saud was yeah....what reciever doesnt want to try to catch the deep ball?

Keeping it real always

Actually Joe should stop giving Wallace a pass.Hartline seldom has a drop.For 60 mil.......Wallace stinks as a receiver and yet he runs his trap too.Too funny.O line is getting worse.Thomas is not even a 4th string player.Guy should be CUT from the team ....yesterday.

PACO

i SAW JULIO JONE AND MARQUES COLSTON DOUBLE TEAMED BY US AND THEY STILL CAUGHT THE BALL. WHY CAUSE THEY ARE #1 RECIEVERS....I AM STARTING TO THINK MIKE WALLACE IS NOTHING BUT A DECOY IN THIS OFFENCE TO KEEP THE SAFETY AWAY FROM THE L.O.S. AND CLEAR OUT UNDERNEATH FOR OTHER RECIEVERS....FOR $60MM THROW HIM THE ROCK AND LET HIM BEAT DOUBLE COVERAGE.

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