Written by Luis Sung at 6:45 PM EST | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
If there's one thing that was incredibly clear about the Miami Dolphins when the season started, it was that they were making it a point to include big-money wide receiver Mike Wallace more in the offense, and so far they have been able to do just that.
When Wallace first arrived, people were criticizing him for being something of a one-trick pony. He possesses blazing speed that he regularly used to take the top off of defenses while he was in Pittsburgh, and it was there that he succeeded in being the deep threat that everyone is aware he can be. Now in Miami however, he's had to adapt. Ryan Tannehill is nowhere near as effective as Ben Roethlisberger was when talking about the deep pass, nevertheless he's been able to change his game just enough so that he's become effective in more than just fly routes up the field.
Part of that is probably because he was out to prove all his critics wrong and show that he's more than a one-trick pony, and that defenses should fear him no matter what he's up to; he's done a lot to make that happen, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
"The biggest thing I’ve noticed is just his work ethic around here, his comfort around here, I just think he feels better about being a Miami Dolphin. I know that sounds crazy, but I think it’s translated and helped him on the field. I really do." head coach Joe Philbin said. "He’s practiced hard. He’s been running hard in practice and working on the timing with everybody, with the whole passing game. I can’t really pinpoint one thing necessarily other than I just like the way he’s going about his business more and I think all of that stuff, at the end of the day, counts for something."
That improvement has shown immensely, as Wallace has already recorded five touchdown catches in just six games, whereas it took all of last season to accumulate the same amount of touchdowns. Thanks to Wallace's hard work, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been able to have more confidence in giving him the ball.
"He’s doing a good job, he’s making plays down in the red zone. I think that’s an area where he’s picked his game up a lot is he’s running good routes." Tannehill said. "There’s been a lot of times in practice it hasn’t looked that good, but it came up in practice. He ran probably one of the best routes I’ve seen him run and we’re able to throw the ball out there and he made a great catch. So you just see him getting more and more comfortable and playing with confidence and getting open. That’s what you want to see from receivers."
Another nice surprise for the Dolphins has been second-round draft pick Jarvis Landry, who even during training camp was able to impress the coaching staff with his intensity and ability, and has recently been placed on the depth chart as the starting slot receiver, ahead of veterans Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews.When Landry was asked if there was any particular significance to being listed as the starter on the depth chart, Landry had a rather blunt answer.
So logically, the next question would be why that is.
"It’s not about me. It’s not about me and it’s not about the decisions that are made on the depth chart." Landry said. "I control when I touch the field and that’s all that it is about."
Landry has shown so far this season that he has amazing potential, and the fact that he's still learning the offense even now is a testament to just how good Landry can be, and he's still not satisfied.
"There’s some room for improvement. I think I believe there is room for improvement and, as an offense, we continue to get better every week." Landry said. "We started fast last week and we want to just let that carry over to this week and start as fast as we can, let that continue and let that be a tone-setter for the rest of the season."
Landry has already made 22 catches so far this season, and now that he's going to be used as an actual starter, it seems likely he'll be called on to do even more. Between him and Wallace, the increased intensity of the receiving corps has proven to make things on the offense click in ways it never has before.
Between Wallace and Landry, the fire on the offense is burning brightly, and it should really help the team going forward.