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Should the New England Patriots be afraid of new Dolphins WR Mike Wallace?

Posted by Erik Frenz  March 13, 2013 08:00 AM

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The Miami Dolphins were swimming in money to start free agency and wasted no time made one big splash after another. One signing in particular, though, could be troubling for the Patriots: wide receiver Mike Wallace.

The signing was reported by multiple outlets all day Tuesday, and the details were first reported by NFL Network.

You can debate whether his contract was worth the money or not, but he will have an indesputible impact on the Dolphins offense — and likewise, opposing defenses.

with and without you.pngRemember that problem the Patriots had with defending the long ball? Early in the season, they were burned badly by opponents who were able to attack them deep.

Those problems were mostly cured — or at the least, the symptoms were alleviated — when cornerback Devin McCourty moved to safety. Adding cornerback Aqib Talib via trade shortly thereafter was another step on the road to recovery.

That long-ball defense will be tested greatly by Wallace.

steelers WR mike wallace.pngDespite not recording the game-breaking stats he had earlier in his career, he remains one of the game's best deep threats. He will have an impact on the game with his very presence on the field; if defenses respect his speed — as they should — it will open things up for Brian Hartline and Davone Bess to do their work underneath.

That being said, the Patriots would rather force the Dolphins to execute a long drive than allow Wallace to reel in a long bomb for a touchdown.

Who will be the man in charge of covering Wallace? It could be Talib if the Patriots retain him, or it could be cornerback Alfonzo Dennard if he's not in jail for his 2012 assault charge. Both would provide a tough physical matchup for Wallace, who isn't that big at 6'0 and 180 pounds.

There are also alternatives available in free agency if Talib finds a new home, but none would be as up to the task of covering Wallace as Talib.

Regardless of who's playing cornerback for the Patriots, Wallace can run deep routes all day long, but he still needs a quarterback who can deliver the ball accurately. Ryan Tannehill in 2012 showed flashes flashes of Ben Roethlisberger at times, extending plays with his legs and getting away from pressure to allow his receivers to get open.

Roethlisberger has a heck of an arm, but so does Tannehill. He didn't throw the ball down the field all that often in 2012 (only 10.5 percent of his attempts traveled 20 yards or more through the air, according to ProFootballFocus.com), but he had a high accuracy rate on such throws (ranked ninth in the NFL with 43.1 percent accuracy, with drops counting as completions).

None of this is to imply that Tannehill is the next Roethlisberger, but only to indicate that Wallace can and will be effective in Miami's offense and with Tannehill at quarterback. If New England doesn't get their murky situation in the secondary figured out before they suit up against Miami, the Patriots could be in for an unpleasant introduction.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »


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