How Bradley Chubb eliminated the ‘pressure demons’ and got rolling for the Dolphins

When Bradley Chubb sacked Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Sunday (his fifth sack in four weeks) and forced a fumble for the third time in a month, it didn’t merely set up the Dolphins’ second touchdown.

It also helped Chubb continue to exorcise what coach Mike McDaniel calls “pressure demons” that wore on Chubb earlier this season.

Chubb, 27, takes it very seriously that he’s one of the team’s highest-paid players, a result of the Dolphins giving him a five-year, $110 million extension (with $63.2 million guaranteed) after acquiring him from Denver last November.

And when Chubb, 27, wasn’t playing up to his expectations at times last year, and early this season, it ate at him. And he didn’t hesitate to call himself out publicly.

“Earlier in the season I just didn’t feel like I was making that big of an impact on the field and I was kind of letting it get to me,” Chubb said Tuesday before the players scattered for five off days during their bye week.

“I was hard on myself. I wasn’t talking. I wasn’t being the same old me. I’m supposed to be this guy and all that. But that’s when I had to look at the man in the mirror and understand, ‘hey man, you do this.’ It’s not about people who put expectations on you. It’s about what you know you can do and how you prepare to do that.’

“I just started tapping into that a lot more and I started bringing guys along with me, and I feel like that’s kind of shifted the energy for all of us as a defense. It’s allowed us to grow because everybody had that same mindset of looking in the mirror and understanding what they need to do better.”

Chubb, during the past month, has made the type of impact plays expected from all of the league’s highest-paid edge players.

His six sacks are tied for 16th in the NFL. He’s tied for the league lead in forced fumbles with four. His 34 quarterback pressures are 21st among edge players, per Pro Football Focus.

Based on 2023 performance, PFF rates him 24th among 107 edge players, including 35th against the run.

McDaniel gave an interesting answer when asked about Chubb on Tuesday.

“I think Bradley Chubb represents something that I think is very, very important in professional sports,” McDaniel said.

“You have salary caps, so you want to pay everyone, but there’s certain players that garner a large chunk of your salary cap by percentage. Those people, you’re entrusting a lot to. I think Bradley Chubb represents everything that I believe in in terms of, this is a guy since the second he’s been here, he’s felt the responsibility to the organization to make right of our investment into him.

“As he’s found his niche and his role within the defense, he’s been able to exorcise some of the pressure demons that he self-imposes because it’s really important to him that he does right by the organization. I think you can feel that when he talks.”

Chubb’s cap hit will jump from $7.5 million this season to $26.9 million, $26.6 million, $36.6 million and $26.9 million the next four seasons if he remains on this current contract.

“I think you have a chance as an organization when the people that you select to pay a good portion of your salary cap to, that they take that for what it is and it’s a responsibility heavy is the crown,” McDaniel said. “And he’s in a really cool spot now, because he’s allowing the game to come to him and understanding that all this team needs from him is his 100 percent commitment each and every day.”

In an unusual public moment, Chubb began his media session in Germany last Thursday by thanking owner Stephen Ross, president Tom Garfinkel, McDaniel and general manager Chris Grier on the one-year anniversary of his acquisition from the Broncos.

“This time last year, I had a lot of emotions going, a lot of everything going, and I just want to once again, thank Mr Ross and his family, Mr. Garfinkel and his family, Mr. Grier, Coach Mike,” Chubb said in Frankfurt. “Changed my life, man, and I’m glad to be here…. Still a little emotional part of my journey, but… I’m right where I need to be.”

Back at his locker room at the team practice facility on Tuesday, Chubb spoke of the benefit he’s reaping from spending three years with Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver.

“I just understand what he expects from me,” Chubb said. “I feel like early in the season, I wasn’t at the point that I wanted to be. I kind of just started understanding and getting back to who I was and what I knew he expected of me and what I knew this defense expected of me.”

THIS AND THAT

In the history of NFL games played internationally in the morning (U.S. time), the Dolphins have been a part of the two most watched: the 2015 game against the Jets in London, which drew 9.8 million viewers on CBS, and Sunday’s game against Kansas City, which drew more than 9.6 million.

Dolphins-Chiefs was the most-watched game ever among 12 international games aired by NFL Network.

Meanwhile, NFL Films had a presence in the Dolphins’ locker room on Tuesday as it prepares to produce at least a half dozen in-season episodes of Hard Knocks. HBO hasn’t announced when the series will debut.

Per SI.com, the Dolphins on Tuesday auditioned former Browns receiver Anthony Schwartz, who has 14 catches for 186 yards in his career. The former third-round pick from Auburn attended Plantation American Heritage.

Miami’s wide receiver room is dealing with several injuries, but none that appear to be serious beyond Erik Ezukanma, who’s on injured reserve, with a neck injury.

River Cracraft is expected to be activated by next week; if he isn’t on the 53-man roster next Tuesday, he would be required to sit out the season.

Tyreek Hill (hip), Jaylen Waddle (knee), Braxton Berrios (hamstring) and Chase Claypool (knee) have been playing through injuries.

Safety Brandon Jones, who has been in concussion protocol, wore a red noncontact jersey at Tuesday’s light practice, the team’s final practice this week.

Here’s news from Mike McDaniel’s Tuesday news conference, including more on Waddle.