Starks, Wallace unhappy despite Dolphins' 1-0 start
Starks, a two-time Pro Bowl player unhappy about stalled contract negotiations, was miffed he didn't start Miami's season opener at Cleveland.
As he celebrated a sack in the closing minutes, the network telecast showed him making an obscene gesture that seemed to be intended for the Dolphins coaches.
"Probably me directly," coach Joe Philbin said Monday with a wry smile. Philbin subsequently said he was joking and had no reason to think the gesture was for the coaching staff.
Starks wasn't the only upset Dolphins star in the wake of their 23-10 win Sunday. New $60 million receiver Mike Wallace was visibly angry as he left the locker room after catching one pass for 15 yards.
Wallace's pique was enough to warrant a meeting Monday with Philbin.
"We had a good conversation. We're good. We're ready to move on," Wallace said. He denied he was mad about being targeted only five times by Ryan Tannehill, who threw 38 passes.
"It just wasn't a good day for me," Wallace said. "I'm mad at myself because I didn't have a good game. Anytime I don't do well, I'm upset."
Starks also tried to minimize his outburst.
"Joking with my teammates about getting a sack," he tweeted. "Could have used different gesture but it's over now. ... Moving on!!!"
Philbin declined to say whether he had scolded Starks.
"It's important for all of our players to act the right way on and off the field," the coach said.
As for Wallace: "I want the players on this team to want to make a difference and contribute in a game," Philbin said.
Starks' dissatisfaction dates to the offseason, when he sat out organized team activities while protesting the fact he hasn't received a multiyear contract extension. Miami gave him a franchise tag, and he'll make $8.45 million this year.
The Dolphins rotated Starks, Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick at their two defensive tackle spots Sunday, with Starks coming off the bench.
"Everybody wants to be the starter," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "We're blessed that in my opinion we have three starters at defensive tackle. They're all playing in a rotation and getting somewhat about the same number of snaps."
Starks contributed to a dominating performance by the front seven at Cleveland. Miami had six sacks, forced three turnovers and allowed the Browns to convert only one of 14 third down situations.
"He did a good job, a winning performance," Philbin said.
While the Dolphins won with defense, their offense sputtered for most of the day and totaled only 275 yards. Wallace was acquired to stretch the field and provide more big plays, but Tannehill threw mostly to Brian Hartline (nine catches), newcomer Brandon Gibson (seven) and tight end Charles Clay (five).
"I'm happy those guys had a great game," Wallace said. "Those are my teammates."
Wallace said he didn't plan to lobby Tannehill to throw his way more, and said their chemistry would improve as the season progresses.
Philbin found little fault with the number of passes Tannehill threw Wallace's way.
"We don't have plays in the offense where we throw the ball to a certain jersey number just to do it," Philbin said. "We throw it to the people who are open. There were certainly times where we potentially could have gone to him, but I thought overall our quarterback decision-making was good."
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