We sat down with Kevin Nogle, the managing editor of The Phinsider, SB Nation's Dolphins blog, to get the low-down on Our Favorite Wallace, Brent Grimes and the weather.
1. So...how are any former Steelers receivers doing this season? What's the consensus of the Dolphins' fan base on the acquisition of any of those aforementioned receivers?
There's a former Steelers receiver on the Dolphins roster? Oh, that's right. Mike Wallace spent a brief period of time with Pittsburgh, didn't he?
Wallace has been a source of frustration for the Dolphins, but I don't think it's a Wallace-issue. I think it's simply a fact that he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill have not settled onto the same page yet. It constantly seems like one of them is either half-a-page ahead of or behind the other. They are starting to come together, and the offense is starting to use him in a more varied role, but it's been a slow process.
Tannehill has the arm strength to get the ball out to Wallace, but he does not yet seem to trust that he can just throw the ball deep and let Wallace go get it. He tries to place the ball perfectly, and it ends up missing. As a fan base, we have seen way too many passes hit the dirt because of that, and it's very common to throw out the $60 million number as to why Wallace is already a bust. I think it's a timing and chemistry thing though. They are getting better this year, and, I think, they will be in tune come next year.
We have seen clear flashes of what Wallace could mean for the Dolphins. The last two weeks, we are starting to see the number of times he is targeted increase, and it's finally coming together. He has his longest reception of the year in Week 12, with a 57-yard catch, as well as a 53-yard reception for a touchdown. Last week, he caught seven passes for 82-yards, including a 28-yard touchdown when he broke a tackle on a seven-yard hitch and ran the rest of the way for the score.
We all expected more of Wallace this year, and are all disappointed that we haven't seen it as of yet. However, if we can keep getting the production we have over the last few weeks, and he continues to take the top off of defenses like he has all year, allowing other receivers to get open, it will get better.
2. Why isn't Olivier Vernon on the Pro Bowl ballot?
I can't explain this one. Typically, every starter is on the ballot, and Vernon has been a starter all season long. He's now fifth in the league in sacks with 10.5 on the year - and he's not even on the ballot. It's not that he's just not getting votes, which I would understand given he's not a household name, but that he's not even listed on the ballot and an option to receive votes.
I don't hold an illusions that Vernon would make the game, or be high in fan votes, but I do think he at least deserves to be on the ballot.
3. Is Miami prepared for Pittsburgh's 12-man kick coverage team?
Okay, you literally made me laugh out loud on this one. Well played.
And, it's funny because, of all the teams who may be prepared for the sideline block, the Dolphins may be it. In 2010, Miami cornerback and punt coverage gunner Nolan Carroll was tripped on the sidelines by New York Jets assistant Sal Alosi during a third-quarter punt. As you can see in the video, Carroll was pushed out of bounds, as is normal during a punt. But, Jets personnel had set up a wall, and Alosi stuck out his knee to trip Carroll, who is actually as fast as, if not faster than, Mike Wallace.
The Mike Tomlin incident immediately brought up thoughts of this play for Dolphins fans. Hopefully, they remember how to dodge the 12th defender during coverages and returns.
4. I think Brent Grimes' road to recovery is nothing short of inspirational, and while I have no clue off the top of my head who other legitimate candidates are for Comeback Player of the Year, it seems like he'd be a worthy consideration. In a heavily active offseason for the Dolphins, would you say he was the team's best pick-up?
Absolutely. Grimes has been amazing this year, and is clearly one of, if not the, steals of free agency. Teams are simply staying away from him, and when they don't, he usually makes them pay. In comparison, Darrelle Revis, who reworked his contract this year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the trade from the New York Jets is a $16-million cap hit for Tampa. Grimes is just $5.4-million, is allowing a lower passer rating against him than Revis, has nearly three times as many passes defensed (13-to-5) and double the interceptions (4-to-2). Only Tennessee's Alterraun Verner has more picks than Grimes.
Unfortunately, Grimes was only signed to a one-year deal with the Dolphins, so he is scheduled to be a free agent again after the season. Hopefully Miami is able to workout a longterm deal with him, because he has simply been a dominating player, at a position where you need dominating players.
5. When I think of Dolphins/Steelers games, I think about Hurricane Jeanne, and I think of 3-0 at Heinz Field with a punt that sank into the new sod. I don't think of the competition, I think of the weather. How leery are you about the Dolphins playing at Heinz Field late in the season with snow in the forecast?
I think it will be an issue. Just like teams traveling from cold weather sites to Miami have to deal with the heat and humidity, the Dolphins have to deal with weather they are not used to seeing in South Florida. The Dolphins don't run the ball, so serious weather issues can cause problems with the offense. The coaches have been doing a good job this year of dropping the temperature inside the team's practice bubble to simulate cold weather, but it's not exactly like the team can practice in the snow.
Head coach Joe Philbin was asked about playing in the snow this week during one of his press conferences, and he stated, "Snow doesn't usually impact things, I don't think, a whole lot. Usually, the wind is the toughest thing to deal with at times. I don't know if you can practice in the wind. The wind is more troublesome, I think, especially offensively. [Snow impacts] the footing at the most, but other than that, I don't think a lot unless you are in a whiteout situation."
I'll give the coach who spent so many years in Green Bay the benefit of the doubt about playing in snow, but that doesn't make me worry about it any less. Leery is probably a very good word for it.