The most famous chain in football doesn’t belong to the University of Miami — at least for the moment.
And the Miami Dolphins might be thankful for that.
The chain in question belongs to Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree. Or at least it used to. Denver Broncos All-Pro cornerback Aqib Talib now has it, although the price he’s paying is a two-game suspension that will mean he’ll miss Sunday’s game at Miami, barring appeal.
For whatever reason, Crabtree insists on wearing the chain out on the field. And for whatever reason, Talib insists on swiping it from around Crabtree’s neck.
Talib made off with it twice before, so Sunday, Crabtree figured he’d outsmart Talib by taping it to himself. Talib still grabbed it, sparking a melee that resulted in the NFL announcing it was suspending both players for two games without pay.
So what’s this mean for the Dolphins, who need every edge they can get?
Talib has made four Pro Bowls.
The Broncos have Chris Harris Jr. starting opposite him. Harris is a solid, seventh-year pro with 15 career interceptions.
So whom will Denver turn to? Backing up Talib is Bradley Roby, a fourth-year pro from Ohio State who has three starts this season but only 13 in his career out of 59 games played. He has six career interceptions and, at least according to Pro Football Focus, is the 22nd-rated cornerback in the league. Talib is 16th and Harris is 19th.
But what happens when the Dolphins go with their normal three-wide formation with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills? Harris’ backup is Brendan Langley, a 23-year-old rookie from Lamar who has never started in the NFL. He has two solo tackles and no interceptions.
Plus, Roby struggled two weeks ago against the Bengals as Andy Dalton picked on him in a 20-17 Cincy win. Roby was beaten by Alex Erickson for a 29-yard touchdown. He gave up the winning 18-yard score to A.J. Green with nine minutes left. Finally, Roby was called for pass interference against Green, which allowed the Bengals to eat up the clock.
Going back to Sunday’s brawl, we must state the obvious, because, evidently, it wasn’t obvious to at least two men walking this planet. In the file marked “stupid things done during the 2017 season,” this affair ranks up there with, say, an offensive line coach snorting a white powder, filming it, and sending it to someone who later posted it online. If they had a Pro Football Hall of Foolishness, both incidents would be first-ballot selections.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph, who was coordinating the Dolphins’ defense last season, addressed this during a team meeting Monday.
“It’s unacceptable. We can’t do it,” Joseph said. “We can’t lose our best corner in a game like that.”
In explaining why he came down hard, NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan sent a letter to Talib, pointing out that the incident occurred in the first three minutes of the game, was a deliberate act and resumed after the two men had been separated, “endangering him and various sideline personnel in the near vicinity. … Such actions have no place in this game.”