It’s Tua Time.
It’s no coincidence the Miami Dolphins play number one on number one. Miami opens the first day of November with its first draft pick from 2020 who happens to wear the No. 1 jersey.
After making the franchise quarterback change, Tua Tagovailoa will make his first career start on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams inside Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami, L.A. Looking For Third Win in a Row
The Dolphins are coming off their bye week and previous to that in week six, a 24-0 shutout win against the New York Jets. Subsequently, the Rams are coming off a win at home against the Chicago Bears on Monday night in week seven.
Dolphins Dominate All-Time Meetings
These two teams have met 13 times previously to this coming Sunday, and Miami has won 11 of those matchups, most recently coming in 2016 when the Dolphins came from behind and won in L.A. with two late fourth quarter touchdowns to upset the Rams 14-10.
Brian Flores Makes QB Change Despite 3-3 Record
Despite QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s record of 3-3 so far this year making the team .500, head coach Brian Flores felt it was time for a change. Though this will be Tagovailoa’s first NFL start, his debut was in the Dolphins’ game against New York when he came in for the final drive of the game and completed two passes for nine yards to wrap up the shutout.
“Tua has done a great job. We have good leadership in the room; we have good leadership in the quarterback room. I don’t think anything is going to be changed,” offensive tackle Jesse Davis said. “I think everything is just going to be the same. It’s the same thing every week – we’ll try to go out there and win the game.”
Aaron Donald Comes to Town
Tagovailoa’s first start will be no easy feat. Miami has averaged more points scored so far this season than LA, but the Rams have the number five overall defense in the league in terms of points allowed. The team is also third in the NFL in sacks and their defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, has eight sacks in the Rams’ seven games so far this season, good for second in the NFL.
“Aaron Donald is a great player. He’s very productive, high energy, high intensity, high effort; but you see that from a lot of their guys. So obviously we’ll pay close attention to him,” Flores said. “They have good players outside of Aaron Donald, I think Leonard Floyd is playing real good football right now. So is (Michael) Brockers, so is Jalen Ramsey.”
Tagovailoa Has Plethora of Options in Receiving Game
Tagovailoa has worked solely with the first team in the last two weeks, even though that’s who he mainly worked with since arriving in Miami.
He’ll have No. 1 wide receiver DeVante Parker back for the game who has been battling a groin injury for the greater part of the last two weeks, but was cleared as of Friday. However, it could be No. 2 WR Preston Williams who has the most success on Sunday with routes out of the slot or short/dump routes to help ease Tagovailoa into the game. The rookie may also use wideouts Isaiah Ford and Jakeem Grant to his disposal a bit more with tight end Adam Shaheen questionable if starting TE Mike Gesicki is bottled up by the Rams defense as well. It looks like Tagovailoa chose a good time to get acclimated to a Miami offense, as it has more options in the passing game than it seems to have had in years.
“Tua, he’s cool, he’s comfortable in the pocket. When he’s in the huddle, he’s confident. I walked in here on the bye week and he’s in the quarterback room watching tape, studying,” Davis said. “That was very pleasing to see. He’s doing his job for sure. I think he’s going to be a good player. I can’t wait to see him play on Sunday.”
Jared Goff Bringing Weapons of His Own to Hard Rock
For L.A., it’ll be QB Jared Goff under center. Goff has 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions so far this season and just under 1,800 passing yards (1,790) entering Sunday’s game.
He’ll use the likes of WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods while filtering in Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett in an overwhelming passing attack for opposing defenses. Thankfully for Miami however, is cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are the top-rated CB duo in the NFL through seven weeks. The Dolphins will need big plays from them if they want to send the Rams back to L.A. with a capital L.
Injury Notes (as of Friday morning):
For Miami, the injuries will impede them slightly more than Los Angeles.
The Dolphins’ Bobby McCain (S), Jamal Perry (CB), Adam Shaheen (TE), Jakeem Grant (WR) and DeVante Parker (WR) all come into this game as questionable, which will definitely reduce the number of throwing options that Tua Tagovailoa will have in this one considering Parker leads the team in receiving. The injuries won’t affect Jared Goff and the Rams nearly as much, Tyler Higbee (TE) is questionable, but that still leaves Goff with his number one throwing option, Cooper Kupp.
Kayla Morton contributed to this article.