Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will begin his sophomore season against none other than the New England Patriots with the 2021 NFL campaign kicking off this weekend.
Tagovailoa, the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, won his only start against the Patriots last season despite throwing for just 145 yards on 26 passing attempts.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered his insights on what he has seen from Tagovailoa and the rest of the Miami offense Wednesday during a press conference.
“Well they did a good job against us last year. They’re a well-balanced offense,” Belichick said, per a team provided transcript. “They like to run the ball. They have few different ways of doing it and do a good job of spreading the ball around to their receivers, tight ends, running backs. Quarterback is mobile, so they’re pretty well-balanced.”
Myles Gaskin leads the running back depth chart with Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed rounding out the group. Ahmed, as Patriots fans likely remember, rushed for 122 yards on 23 carries during a late-season win over New England last season. Of course, it’s fair to note the Patriots seemingly have improved their run defense by leaps and bounds from the 2020 group.
“They’re a well-balanced offense and can attack you in a lot of different fronts,” Belichick added. “They have big receivers. They have (Jaylen) Waddle. Big addition for them. They have some other explosive players in the receiver unit. (Mike) Gesicki is a problem. Backs have a good skillset. Young offensive line. I think they’ll just continue to get better because they have a lot of youth on their offense, and I’m sure as they grow they’ll continue to improve as a unit.”
Waddle, a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, joins a receiver group with fellow wideout DeVante Parker and Will Fuller, who is suspended and won’t play Sunday.
“He has a really good skillset,” Belichick said of Waddle, who played his college football at Alabama. “He’s fast. Quick. Punt returner. Good with the ball in his hands. Tough kid. He’s a good player.”
Belichick depicted how the Patriots, who will be without cornerback Stephon Gilmore given his status on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, likely will look to slot cornerback Jonathan Jones to keep Waddle under wraps. J.C. Jackson, who is excited to fill the No. 1 cornerback role, likely will be tasked with Parker while the New England pass rush tries to make Tagovailoa uncomfortable.
Patriots-Dolphins is set for 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.