Go ahead and celebrate Dolphins trading for Bradley Chubb (but don't ignore risks) | Habib

MIAMI GARDENS — Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel didn’t flinch, didn’t disagree with a suggestion Wednesday of the far-reaching implications of the Bradley Chubb trade.

In a way, it didn’t matter if he did. Whether the Dolphins admit it or not, we all know this means they think they have their franchise quarterback and so much more in place.

Because the Dolphins don’t make this trade — clearing the shelves of their first-round draft picks for the second straight year — without the belief they’re close.

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Sep 16, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) and linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) celebrate a stop in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) and linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) celebrate a stop in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Without the belief Chubb could be the final missing piece of the puzzle.

Maybe he is.

Hate to say this, but maybe he’s not. There’s an unpleasant flip side to this, one nobody seems to want to talk about during this emotionally charged week, but one that the realities of the NFL insist cannot be ignored.

What if Bradley Chubb is just that — a piece that’s missing? There’s no question he is capable of blowing up plays when he’s on the field. It’s when he’s not that we must not gloss over.

Injuries have kept Bradley Chubb on sidelines one-third of the time

Chubb was drafted fifth overall by Denver in 2018.

Since then, the Broncos have played 73 games.

Since then, Bradley Chubb has played 49.

This means Chubb missed 24 of 73 games — 32.9 percent.

Now let’s put this in terms with which Dolphins fans can easily relate. Chubb’s absentee rate is double that of DeVante Parker’s. As much as Parker was criticized for missing games, he has been out for 19 of his teams’ 121 games — 15.7 percent.

Of course this doesn’t mean Chubb’s lousy luck is doomed to continue. Nor does it mean this is a bad trade.

What it does mean — what cannot be disputed — is this is a trade that comes with risks. True, all trades do, but this one has “show me the Carfax” written all over it. Here’s what it shows:

Chubb entered the 2019 season hoping to build off a stellar year in which he had a dozen sacks and made the All-Rookie team. That plan lasted only four games when a blown ACL ended his season.

Chubb rehabbed, played all but two games the next year and had a respectable 7.5 sacks. But he missed 10 more games the next year when he needed arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle. That came after a procedure the previous offseason to remove a bone spur in his left ankle.

GM Chris Grier: Dolphins did a lot of research on Chubb's health

None of that came as news to Dolphins general manager Chris Grier as he agreed to send a package including a 2023 first-round draft pick to Denver to acquire Chubb.

"We did a lot of research and analytics looking at that as well,” Grier said Wednesday. “You know, with him, obviously the ACL, but if you go around the league and look at some of the other guys who are premium pass rushers, historically, there's been guys that have had ACLs and most, multiple ACL injuries too.”

About the time Grier was speaking, Chubb was taking a physical with the Dolphins, standard procedure before the trade could be finalized.

“He's a tough kid,” Grier said. “He keeps himself in great shape. Everything that our research, talking to people about him, (his) character and love for football and drive, it matched everything we had had on him studying him coming out of college.”

Here’s one reason for Grier to focus more on the upside: After Chubb said he was dedicating himself to returning from those injuries in top form, this season he has 5.5 sacks, 26 tackles, four tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one pass defensed.

Compare that to the Dolphins, who have only 15 sacks. They’re on pace for 32 after piling up 47 last year, when nobody had an answer for their blitzes.

The Dolphins will not play a single game in 2022 with their secondary intact. If they’re going to be all-in this season, it must start with the guys up front lifting up the ever-shuffling deck at the back end.

And let’s not move on from this concept of going all-in without considering all it entails. By my count, there are five players who, if lost, put the kibosh on this team making noise in the postseason: quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Xavien Howard and left tackle Terron Armstead (whose tenuous injury situation has him playing but not practicing). In the next plateau I'd toss in center Connor Williams because of all the injuries to an offensive line held together with chewing gum at times.

The thing is, in this league, windows can slam shut on teams faster than they open. Just think about teams that have gone all the way one year, had to scratch and claw the next — teams like, well, the Rams. The Dolphins would be doing themselves and their fan base a disservice not to strike after decades of waiting for a legit opportunity to do so.

Chubb’s best season, 2018, occurred when paired with Von Miller, who had 14.5 sacks that year. Can Chubb, 26, and Jaelan Phillips, 23, become the new Chubb and Miller?

“Listen,” Grier said. “Injuries happen. But we feel good that his age and how he plays and the things we do that it was a risk worth taking."

Got no problem with that. Just as long as everyone recognizes a risk worth taking is still a risk.

Hal Habib covers the Dolphins for The Post. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Bradley Chubb trade comes with injury risk for Miami Dolphins