Mike Wallace needs to start hauling in his targets. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
With four straight wins, Cincinnati has taken control of the AFC North and currently looks like one of the best bets in the entire league to take home a division title. With a 6-2 mark at the halfway point, the Bengals are in prime position to make the playoffs for the third straight season – for the first time in franchise history. In fact, it’s not ridiculous to consider them a Super Bowl contender, although currently we favour KC, Seattle, Denver and New Orleans over Cincy among teams that have a solid chance to be champions.
Thursday, Cincy looks to keep the party going in Miami, a team heading in the opposite direction with four straight losses.
For the Dolphins, we’re keeping our eyes on Mike Wallace, who we slotted 19th in our preseason Wide Receiver Rankings. Well, he hasn’t come close to living up that billing even though he’s already matched last season’s total of two 100-yard receiving games. No, the big problem with Wallace is his lack of scoring. After racking up 26 touchdowns in his final three seasons with the Steelers, he only has one lousy TD for Miami this year and that was way back in Week Two.
Wallace is second on Miami with 30 receptions, so he’s on pace to top both his catches and yardage numbers from last year. But it’s not enough to overcome that massively disappointing TD total. The other concern we have here is that his slump has mirrored the Dolphins’ swoon. In the last four games, Wallace has only caught 42.9 per cent of his targets. If that continues, Ryan Tannehill will have to start targeting his other receivers more.
Cincinnati isn’t exactly known for its stupendous pass defense, so Thursday marks a good opportunity for Wallace to break through – perhaps with some longer plays like we are accustomed to seeing from him – but he’ll need to actually secure the pigskin first.
Clearly, he’s again getting frustrated with the Miami offense as he’s 3.5 yards below his career average for yards per reception. Wallace told the Miami Herald: “We’ve got to be able to throw the ball deep. We have to be able to back people up and not have people sitting us. We have to balance it out.”
Yup, the dude is getting fed up and he recently had another talk with Dolphin OC Mike Sherman about the team’s attack. You may recall that Wallace was upset way back after Miami’s Week One win (see video below).
The targets are there for Wallace, but he hasn’t even performed like a top 30 WR of late. This week, we peg him as a solid WR3 in standard formats.
Billy Squicciarino, our resident Dolphins’ expert, offered the following on the Wallace situation: “I think he deserves some of the criticism he’s getting, but some of it is unfair. He’s taking too much of the heat, where some should be more focused on the QB play.”
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what you expect out of Wallace this week.