Sunday we get a veteran quarterback matchup in New England against a rookie matchup in Miami, but this time, it isn’t Tom Brady against a rotating Dolphins QB.
This has the potential to be a very fun and entertaining contest, as we’ll see a healthy Tua Tagovailoa go head-to-head with Cam Newton in Miami’s 2020 home finale. This game is very important for the Dolphins, as they’d split the season series with a win in Sunday’s matchup, for the simple reason of keeping their postseason chances alive and not giving up a potential tiebreaker.
Tagovailoa Looks to Keep Miami’s Playoff Hopes Alive
Ever since taking over the starting role during Miami’s bye week, Tagovailoa has shown he could lead a Dolphins offense. Whether that’s down the field to score, make plays, or be a vocal leader, he has shown it all over nearly half a season.
In his six games as a starter Tagovailoa has thrown for 1,214 passing yards and has a nine to one touchdown to interception ratio. He also has 24 rushing attempts for 61 yards and one rushing TD, most of that coming in an underdog victory out in Arizona against the Cardinals.
Dolphins’ Red Zone Proficiency Going Against Bottom-Tier RZ Defense
One consistent thing Tagovailoa and the offense has done, and will be a challenge for the Patriots defense, is red zone offensive scoring. On the season Miami ranks 15th in offensive red zone scoring at 59.2-percent, while the Patriots’ defense is ranked 20th in red zone scoring allowing 63.2-percent of its opponents to score once they reach the area.
“I think our scout team does a good job helping prepare us offensively for the games. It’s all dependent on the looks that we’re going to get. There’s always going to be new things that are going to pop up, whether it’s a front or something happens in the back end,” Tagovailoa said. “You’ve just got to be prepared for it and adapt to that change on the fly.”
Cam Newton Has Little Time to Right Ship; Has Most of 2020 Success on Ground
It has been well documented all season long that Newton is not looking like himself.
Even before Newton tested positive for COVID-19 his playmaking was off and his communication with the other offensive players seemed to not be at full strength. The biggest highlight of Newton this season that will challenge the Dolphins’ defense has been his ability running the football. Miami also knows that all too well as it suffered its first loss at the hand of the Patriots rushing game behind Newton’s 75 yards on the ground and two rushing scores.
“I think what changed is we just communicate better. We take pride in making sure teams don’t run on us. I think that’s the main thing,” linebacker Jerome Baker said about what Miami has changed since the first time of playing New England. “We have extra meetings just for players. We did pretty much all we can to get that under control. This week is going to be a big challenge, but it’s definitely going to work out.”
Through 13 games Newton has 451 yards on 113 attempts for 451 rushing and 11 TDs. Since his career began in 2011 with the Carolina Panthers, Newton has always been running with the ball and has found most of his career success there. He currently has 5,257 rushing yards, giving him second most among active QBs, and 69 total rushing scores (first all-time).
His feet have made up for his passing woes this season too.
Newton has just a little more than 2,000 yards on the season despite missing just one game, and has doubled his INTs to TDs thrown. He has tossed 10 picks to just five INTs. Newton also only has three games this season where he has thrown more TDs than INTs and has recorded seven games without a passing score. He has also yet to throw for multiple scores in a game, something that will make it a tough day against the second-best defense in the league.