Andy Cohen: Wallace Is The Perfect Fit For This Team

Posted Mar 12, 2013

Breaking down this huge free agent signing and what it means to the Dolphins

The big catch is the big catch.

The name is Wallace. Mike Wallace. And he is exactly what the Miami Dolphins needed. A spread-the-field receiver in the prime of his career. A player with no glaring question marks. A difference-maker. And an important playmaking piece as this offense attempts to grow into something special.

I like this signing for so many reasons.

I like it because the Dolphins are sending a clear, undeniable message to the rest of the league, a message that says: “We’re serious about taking this to another level.” The fact that the Dolphins wasted no time consummating this deal tells you they clearly have their act together and their priorities are firmly in order.

I like it because they are not getting damaged goods, they are not getting a receiver in the twilight of his career and they are not getting a player whose resume is filled with controversy.

I like it because Mike Wallace is one of the real promising young receivers in this league and signing him now provides some flexibility for the rest of free agency and the draft.

Like it? Nah. I love it.   

This is the move we’ve been hoping for, waiting for, clamoring for. Does it solve all of the Dolphins’ problems? Not even close. But what it does do is set a clear path for the rest of the offseason, an offseason filled with potential and intrigue and the real possibility of bringing in enough talent to justify a legitimate hope for the playoffs.    

Wallace is 26 years old. He has already put up numbers that suggest he is one of the premier deep threats in this league. The reality is that Wallace is just approaching his peak years. He is really just coming into his own. The Dolphins are affording him the opportunity to play in a Joe Philbin orchestrated offense designed for playmakers just like him, an offense that in some ways was handcuffed a season ago because there just wasn’t sufficient firepower to support their rookie quarterback.  

Now, with Mike Wallace on one side, Brian Hartline on the other and Davone Bess in the slot, it gives the Dolphins some interesting possibilities and, as stated before, gives Jeff Ireland an opportunity to continue to build around this group.   

Speaking of Ireland, it is a credit to both him and his staff that they were able to swing this deal so quickly, that they approached Tuesday’s start of free agency like a sprinter exploding out of the blocks. But this didn’t all come about at the last moment. Ireland targeted Wallace early on. He wasn’t going to be beaten out for his services. He was relentless in clearing salary cap space over the past year and that’s what you want from a general manager. You want a well thought out plan and you want to see it executed.   

Ireland has often stated that this is his most important offseason, that in his own words, “I think this is the year you’ve got to do something.”   

Well, Ireland did do something. He signed the best receiver in free agency. He paid what the market dictated. He gave Ryan Tannehill the deep threat he so badly needed. He showed Dolphins fans a real sense of commitment and a clear indication that he’s willing to be bold and decisive to get this franchise back on a winning course.    

Two stats about Wallace impress me the most: 32 touchdowns in four seasons and an average of 17.2 yards per catch during that time. Think about those numbers. His touchdowns are fifth best in the league over those four years and the 17.2 yards per catch is third best among receivers with 200 or more receptions. That’s what you need. You need touchdowns and you need big plays. You need consistency. You need a player who can catch a little post pattern and turn it into a long distance threat.      

Yes, they needed exactly what Mike Wallace brings.  

I contacted a few of my sources in Pittsburgh, people who have carefully watched Wallace since he came into the league as a third-round pick out of Mississippi. They only underlined what I already suspected. He’s a good kid. A hard worker. A dedicated student of the game. And, they say, when he gets a step on you, it might as well be a mile. Mike Wallace, you see, has a gear that you simply can’t teach. Put in the tape. You’ll see it over and over.  

Think of what defenses now need to do against the Dolphins. It is almost mandatory to double cover Wallace or at least lean the defense in his direction. What kind of affect is that going to have on Brian Hartline? On Davone Bess? It’s going to make their football lives much easier.   

How about the middle of the field? That should now be open for business with Wallace drawing all the attention on the outside. Tight end down the middle? Running back in the flat? The whole look of the Dolphins offense is going to change. Speed will do that for you.   

  And like I said earlier, this is just the beginning. The Dolphins have more players in their sights, more announcements that are expected to be made. Almost lost in the Wallace signing Tuesday was the re-signing of safety Chris Clemons, a young talented player who has a chance to be special.    

As I have gotten to know Ireland, I can say this without hesitation: He is not going to sit in his second floor office spending much time savoring the signing of Wallace or any other free agent, for that matter. He has an agenda, a game plan, a list of priorities. He knows what this team needs and he’s going to be aggressive, yet prudent.   

Having five draft picks in the first three rounds will be a great way to fortify the Wallace signing with more young, promising players.   

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. This is only the first day of free agency. But, boy, have the Dolphins already made an impact.   

Yes, the deal is done. Mike Wallace is the big catch the Dolphins simply would not let get away.
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