On paper and on media outlets everywhere, the Miami Dolphins seem to be one of the teams in the AFC ready to make the jump from mediocrity to relevance. Ryan Tannehill seems poised for a breakout year, and much of that speculation is based around the acquisition of receiver Mike Wallace. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Wallace's success may not translate well to Miami.
Mike Wallace will be the fastest player on the field most of the time he lines up. The problem is that speed won't necessarily translate to success. In Pittsburgh, Wallace had a very good, if not great quarterback that could throw the long ball as far as anyone in the NFL, and it was still often not enough to overthrow Wallace. Ryan Tannehill can make all the throws required of an NFL quarterback, but it'll take some time before he gets a good feel for just how fast Mike Wallace really is.
In Pittsburgh, Wallace was surrounded by other offensive threats. The Steelers had offensive options everywhere, allowing Ben Roethlisberger a lot of freedom in where he decided to go with the football. The Dolphins, on paper at least, have one other good target in Brian Hartline. Defenses will be paying extra attention to Mike Wallace. When he was with Pittsburgh, there were too many options for the defense to target Wallace exclusively, but in Miami, Wallace won't be forgotten — ever.
Mike Wallace's career average per reception is higher than that of Calvin Johnson. If that strikes you as strange, you're probably not alone. The difference between the two receivers is that Johnson can go up against any defense in the NFL and match his own average week in and week out.
Mike Wallace, by contrast, generated his huge average by outrunning the defense and being lost in coverage. That won't happen in Miami. The same factors that have contributed to his huge numbers may actually be his downfall. He's not a traffic receiver, and he's not a guy that will benefit from being the featured receiver in an offense. He's best when he's left on an island with one defensive back that he can simply outrun.
While everyone else is preparing for a huge season by Mike Wallace, I'm holding off. He has the raw talent to be great, but signs are pointing to a rough season for the former Steelers star.