There was joy all around him in the Miami Dolphins' locker room, fresh off a 23-10 whipping of the Cleveland Browns on the road. But Mike Wallace couldn't help but be sullen.
Wallace was peeved that he caught only one pass for 15 yards in the win and apparently had to be consoled and controlled by general manager Jeff Ireland, who led Wallace away from the locker room after the win.
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The Dolphins' defense was dominant. The passing game was successful. But Wallace couldn't hide his anger that he wasn't a bigger part of it.
After one game, he's unhappy with his role. One victorious game of a five year, $60 million deal. Perspective, man.
Here's how the exchange went with Miami Herald's Armando Salguero:
“I don’t feel like talking, man,” he said, as he walked past me.
He was asked about not being targeted in the first half.
“Ask coach,” he said. “It’s not my game plan."
One final attempt by Salguero to find out what Wallace was upset about:
“Ask coach,” he said.
So there you have it.
Salguero is right: The Dolphins have to fix this. Now. If Wallace is upset that he didn't play well, then that's one thing. But his "ask coach" routine suggests he's upset with Joe Philbin, or perhaps offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
Team and receiver are fairly well locked at the hip for the next few seasons, so they might as well get on the same page. There will be times when Wallace has coverage shaded his way, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill suggested the Browns did Sunday, and that opens things up for others. Brian Hartline (nine catches, 114 yards) had a big afternoon. Brandon Gibson (nine for 77) was strong, too.
The team has to do a better job of trying to get the ball to Wallace. They targeted him five times and came up with 15 yards of offense from it. No one pays that much money for a decoy.
But this one is more squarely on Wallace. He needs to grow up. Some games, he's not going to be the man. And if the team wins said game, he's got to control his emotions and see the bigger picture here. The door in the AFC East has been nudged open as the Patriots barely won in Week 1. There are bigger fish to fry.
Receivers are known for wanting the ball. All the time. On every play, if possible. It's the psychology of the position. But one game into his Miami tenure, Wallace and the Dolphins need to sit down and have a little chat about winning and solidarity. You'd think he would know a little something about that coming from Pittsburgh. But then again, the Steelers allowed him to walk in free agency knowing what price they were willing to pay for him.
Hint: It wasn't $60 million.