The New England Patriots will not go up against regular Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this week, but that does not mean they will be in for an easy game on Sunday. As head coach Bill Belichick pointed out, after all, the team’s backup — Teddy Bridgewater — presents some problems in his own right.
“I’ve always had a ton of respect for Teddy, liked Teddy,” Belichick told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday. “Good athlete, good arm, smart kid, athletic. Presents a lot of the same problems that Tua does.”
The Dolphins will have to rely on Bridgewater because Tagovailoa had to enter concussion protocol for a second time this season. The third-year QB was already evaluated in September and then missed a pair of games in October; now, he has been diagnosed with another concussion coming out of Miami’s loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
As a result, Bridgewater is being prepared as the starter, according to Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel. While there are some differences between the two players — Tagovailoa, as opposed to Bridgewater, is left-handed, for starters — Belichick does not expect to see a lot of schematic change within the Miami offense.
“You can’t go into a game with two different offenses. That’s impossible,” he said. “One’s right-handed, one’s left-handed, that definitely affects some things right there. But we could be looking at a different quarterback, just like we were in Arizona, in the first series of the game. So, you have to be ready for who you expect to play but that could change. ...
“I think it’s a high percentage of the offense. Sure there are things that they would do specifically for one guy or the other, but generally speaking it’s the offense.”
The Patriots have experienced the Tagovailoa-run offense first-hand in Week 1. Back then, completed 23 of 33 pass attempts for 270 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins won with a final score of 20-7 — their fourth straight victory over New England with Tagovailoa at the helm.
As for Bridgewater, New England has no experience going up against him. While he has played 78 career games for five different teams over his nine years in the league, the former first-round draft pick has never gone up against the Patriots.
That all will change on Sunday, and New England better be ready: the team has to come away victoriously, or else it will be eliminated from playoff contention.