The New England Patriots certainly shocked the football world Tuesday morning with the news that Cam Newton has been released from the team, per Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. News of the release was coupled with rookie Mac Jones being named the starting quarterback.
NFL insiders quickly took note that the Patriots will face quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins in the season opener Sept. 12.
Both Tagovailoa and Jones were part of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class and led the Crimson Tide to a national title. Tagovailoa earned the starting quarterback position for Alabama after his remarkable performance in the 2018 national title game where he threw for 295 passing yards on 22 of 34 passes and finished with two touchdowns in the loss to Clemson. He also set a NCAA FBS passer rating record of 199.4 for the season. Despite a rough NFL rookie year, the Dolphins offense look to turn things around with Tagovailoa.
In 2019, Jones stepped up and led the Crimson Tide after Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury. Jones finished his sophomore year with a 68.8% completion rate and threw for 14 touchdowns in 11 games. The following year, he turned it up a notch with 77.4% completion rate and threw for 41 touchdowns in 13 games. Now as the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, head coach Bill Belichick has enough trust in him to lead the Patriots into the upcoming NFL regular season.
While the Philadelphia Eagles have not named their starting QB yet, former Alabama star Jalen Hurts is the presumptive starter. No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence has already been named the starter of the Jacksonville Jaguars, while fellow rookie Zach Wilson is also the projected starter for the New York Jets.
Back in June, AJ Spurr of the Roll Tide Wire reported that Jones and Tagovailoa hadn’t spoken much since the draft.
“I never had the opportunity to talk to Mac,” Tagovailoa said at the Luau with Tua event. “I’ve been busy with our team. I know he’s been really busy competing with the guys at New England. … I think it’s hard with what he has going on. Him having to study the playbook with it being his first year as well. I know the kind of perfectionist he is, so I know he’s going to be studying a lot.”
There are plenty of exciting Week 1 games on the docket, but now we can add the Jones vs. Tagovailoa face-off to the top of the list.
The Dolphins and Patriots are set to kick off in New England on Sept. 12 at 4:24 p.m. ET.