The Miami Dolphins are 1-0 following their season-opening win against the Cleveland Browns, but not everyone in Dolphinland is happy about their Week 1 performance.
WR Mike Wallace, who signed a $60 million contract this offseason to join the team and become its biggest offensive star, was among the first to leave the Dolphins' locker room in Cleveland after the game, rebutting reporters' attempt to ask him anything about the game.
The reason: Wallace caught just one pass for 15 yards, and was targeted only four other times by QB Ryan Tannehill. He was also called for a false start penalty in the second quarter. Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, and TE Charles Clay each received more targets than Wallace (12, 7, and 6, respectively), not something a highly-paid wide receiver takes kindly to.
So when reporters congregated around him in the locker room, Wallace went into shut-down mode. "I don't feel like talking," he said to one reporter, then "I don't want to talk" to another.
Another reporter asked about the team's game plan against the Browns, and Wallace responded, "I don't feel like talking about it. Ask coach."
According to the Miami Herald, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland could be seen walking with Wallace off the field into the locker room after the game, ostensibly consoling him and leading him away from other people.
No one likes it when a player sulks after a team win simply because he did not see as much action as he would have liked, but the Dolphins could have bigger problems moving forward with Wallace. Recent history is littered with receivers who drove a wedge between themselves and their teammates and coaches through demands for more targets, and the Dolphins would very much like to avoid that.
Indeed, the Dolphins might consider themselves lucky that Wallace simply blew off reporters after the game, and didn't launch into a tirade about the offensive game plan.
Sunday's result could be an anomaly, as Wallace was covered by Joe Haden, one of the best defensive backs in the league. It is highly possible that his targets will increase against lesser cornerbacks, and this incident will fade as the season progresses. Besides, what good is an expensive wide receiver who only gets five chances to make a big play per game?
But Wallace could end up forcing the Dolphins or himself into a corner. If he sees his targets jump next week, Wallace may consider his visible disappointment effective, and repeat the cycle the next time his numbers drop. This would effectively hold the team's offensive game plan hostage to his own stat line (but there is also a good chance that the Dolphins' chances of winning rise as Wallace's catches increase).
Conversely, if Wallace goes a few more games without sufficient targets, he might escalate his public disappointment even further, alienating his teammates and coaches while causing an uproar among the fan base (who care more about the win column than Wallace's individual stats).
Either way, the Dolphins' coaching staff will certainly address this issue before next week's game against Indianapolis. Don't be shocked if Wallace's targets rise significantly against the Colts on Sunday.