Although Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin promised to expand Mike Wallace's role after a one-catch performance in the season opener, the big-ticket free-agent acquisition has been a high-profile flop through eight weeks.
On Thursday's edition of "Around The League Live," NFL Media's Kurt Warner suggested that Philbin's early-season adjustment to Wallace's route tree is one of the primary reasons for the receiver's struggles.
"Mike Wallace is a guy that stretches the field. A guy that you have to use to his strengths," Warner opined. "You can see plays like that, where he's not the most consistent guy in catching the underneath routes, or even running them and feeling comfortable in it. So you really have to push him down the field.
"The Dolphins are trying to get all that money out of him by using him in ways that I don't think he can thrive, and now everybody's disappointed because of that."
To Warner's point, Wallace was arguably the NFL's most dangerous deep threat over a 12-game stretch from 2010 to 2011, when he reeled off nine 100-yard games. In 36 games since, he's reached 100 yards just five times. He's been held under 50 yards in nearly half of those 36 games.
The resurrection of Wallace's stalled career isn't as simple as dialing up more go routes, however.
There's reason to believe his early-career success was merely a byproduct of his skills meshing in a perfect storm of former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' vertical offense and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's downfield gambles.
Wallace's catch percentage on passes of more than 20 yards has progressively declined from 44.4 percent in 2009 to 27.3 percent this season. Over the past two seasons, his 33.7 is the second-worst percentage on throws of more than 10 yards. Those numbers are even bleaker over the past four games with Tannehill.
One concern we've picked up, via Game Rewind, is Wallace simply doesn't compete for passes in traffic like true No. 1 receivers. Throw in an "expansion-level" offensive line that doesn't allow Tannehill time to set up and launch downfield strikes, and you have the recipe for a failed deep threat.
Until the Dolphins can find ways to scheme Wallace free from coverage and protect Tannehill, his best bet for production is on bubble screens, slants and crossing routes that take advantage of his run-after-catch ability.
It's not a recipe for $60 million worth of production, but it's a move in the right direction.