The Dolphins and Jets play tomorrow night in the first Saturday game of this season. If you didn’t already know that, I regret having to be the one to inform you. Last week, the Jets needed a furious comeback to beat the 49ers. Their season is over and their coach may be fired. The Dolphins are currently a playoff team, but will be using a quarterback who hasn’t started a game in five years. It should be somewhere around freezing when the ball is kicked off.
But if you find yourself at home on Saturday night with nothing better to do, there is at least one reason why you should think about locating the NFL Network on your television: the ongoing, openly nasty feud between Brandon Marshall and Byron Maxwell.
Last year, Maxwell was the laughingstock of the NFL. Chip Kelly signed him to a contract everyone knew was bad, and then he proceeded to be even worse for the Eagles than anyone imagined. In Miami this year, he was benched early in the season and looked like he was on his way out of the league. But injuries quickly necessitated his return to the field, and by some measures he’s been one of the best corners in the NFL since then. As someone who watches every Dolphins game I still find that to be a highly dubious claim, and anyway it’s hard to shake the memory of Maxwell being roasted over an open flame for the entirety of last season.
Marshall, clearly, does not respect the man. In a spectacular bit of theatre, Marshall told reporters earlier this week that he planned to bring his own flag to the game on Saturday for when Maxwell commits penalties, and then showed everyone the flag.
Marshall has been riding this particular horse for the entire season. Before these teams played in early November, Marshall alleged that Maxwell had held him on every single play when the two faced off in 2015. Maxwell denied this a day later, saying, “Did I hold him? No. I never hold.” As someone who, again, has seen way more of the Dolphins this season than is recommended by doctors, I can say with great confidence that Byron Maxwell’s entire mode of defending is to hold receivers and hope the refs don’t bother to call any penalties. Marshall is being a dick, but he’s right. He could use his own penalty flag on Saturday night.
Brandon Marshall is much better than Byron Maxwell, and if they ever went out on a field together and played one-on-one, Marshall would destroy him. The problem for Marshall, at the moment, is that he plays for the Jets. The box score from that November game in Miami states that Round 1 of this matchup went to Maxwell. Marshall caught only five passes for 46 yards, with a long catch of just 15 yards, and he didn’t score a touchdown.
But what the box score doesn’t show is Marshall wide open in the end zone and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing the ball five yards too far in front of him at the approximate speed of 125 mph. Wrote longtime Dolphins scribe Dave Hyde at the time:
Marshall really would have won the matchup easily as he turned Maxwell around at the end zone and was open for a pass that Ryan Fitzpatrick completely missed. As it was, Marshall didn’t get in the end zone so Maxwell could say he did fine.
Tomorrow night, Marshall will rely on new Jets quarterback Bryce Petty to deliver him the pass that will allow him to finally embarrass Maxwell in front of the world. I will be rooting for the Dolphins, but also for that.