The Miami Dolphins face the New England Patriots on the road in week 1 on Sunday. Fans are excited as regular season football is back, something the Dolphins haven’t seen since the first January of 2021. They travel to Foxboro with one headline dominating the pre-match talk, Tua vs. Mac.
Tua vs. Mac is a battle that sees two former college teammates face off in a division match which could be key for the division standings. Tua took over from Jalen Hurts before being selected fifth overall by the Dolphins in 2020. Mac Jones was the successor, guiding Alabama to a National Championship before being taken fifteenth overall by the Pats in this year’s draft.
With quarterback facing questions from the media in Tua Tagovailoa to one receiving plenty of praise for winning the Patriots starting job in Jones, how will the QB battle play out on Sunday?
Tua’s Alabama Career
Tua had a very successful college career, which started after he took over from Jalen Hurts mid-game in the 2018 National Championship game. He drew plenty of media attention after a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith that won the game.
Two years ago, Tua Tagovailoa became an Alabama legend after this walk-off TD pass to win the national championship ? pic.twitter.com/MjOM2qr0Xq
— ESPN (@espn) January 8, 2020
He threw for 7,442 yards, 87 touchdowns, and just 11 interceptions from 474 completed passes in his three seasons in college. This amounts to 15.7 yards per completed pass and a touchdown every 5.4 completed passes.
A season-ending injury in 2019 ended his time in Alabama, but he left the college loved by fans as he prepared for life in the NFL. It is yet to be determined if he can perform at the NFL level, but his time in college will always be remembered.
Mac’s Time In Alabama
Tua vs. Mac goes back to their college days when Jones took over after Tua suffered the aforementioned injury in 2019.
He threw for 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in the 11 games he played and would get the chance to fully start in 2020, where he helped guide Alabama to their 18th National Championship. He had 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in 2020.
Alabama beat Ohio State and Justin Fields 52-24 in the National Championship. Mac played his part, with 464 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.
Tua came into the 2020 draft seen by most as the second-best quarterback available. Meanwhile, Jones was seen as the fifth-best quarterback in this year’s draft. Many people questioned this when the San Francisco 49ers threw a smokescreen by being rumored to take Mac third overall. He looked excellent for the Patriots in the preseason. This was a big reason for Cam Newton losing the starting job and being cut.
Tua vs. Mac: Both Miami & New England’s Offseasons
Both Miami and New England have similar teams. Both are excellently coached from top to bottom. The defenses that they both have been exceptional. Injuries and opt-outs saw the Patriots’ defense drop off in 2020. Dont’a Hightower is back, as is Kyle Van Noy, who was realized by the Dolphins just a year into his four-year $51 contract. They also spent $163 in Free Agency.
Along with Van Noy, New England acquired Matthew Judon and Jalen Mills in Free Agency. They also drafted defensive tackle Christian Barmore, who had many positive reports coming out of training camp. He even earned praise from head coach Bill Belichick.
Throughout his NFL career, Judon has 34.5 sacks, 103 quarterback hits, and 236 total tackles. Mills was a Super Bowl 52 winner with the Philadelphia Eagles and is a very versatile defensive back. He can play at both cornerback and safety; something Belichick will love.
Miami was excellent last season on the defensive side of the ball under head coach Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Cornerback Xavien Howard recorded the most interceptions in the entire NFL last season (10). Linebacker Jerome Baker recorded the most tackles on the team (112). He also had 7 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and 2 forced fumbles. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah had the team’s most sacks (9) and quarterback hits (21). Ogbah also had 3 forced fumbles and 5 passes deflected. Andrew Van Ginkel recovered a fumble for a touchdown, as did Shaq Lawson, who will be a big miss.
Jaelan Phillips was taken 18th overall and will hope to bring his ability as a pass-rusher to a team that has badly needed one for several years. He has been listed as a linebacker but can also play on the defensive line. Safety Jevon Holland will add quality to an already excellent secondary.
Tua vs. Mac: Overcoming Opposition Defenses On Sunday
There is no one better than Belichick at getting too young quarterbacks. Tua will need to be prepared for the Patriots scheme that will be targeting him. He showed he could beat Belichick after his two fourth-quarter touchdowns against New England last season. Belichick has a 21-6 record against rookie quarterbacks, with Tua becoming the first QB since Geno Smith in 2013 to beat Belichick in their rookie season.
Jones looked comfortable in the Patriots system, but this was in preseason, against hardly any starters. How will he do against first-team players? Especially against a good Miami defense.
This will be a low-scoring game, one that Miami will just edge out a win.
Prediction: Dolphins 12 Patriots 10