The Week 1 game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will feature a bunch of former University of Alabama stars.
Patriots running back Damien Harris is poised for a breakout season. Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has high expectations after being selected sixth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
But the real showdown is at the quarterback position.
The Patriots have turned to rookie Mac Jones -- the 15th pick in the 2021 draft -- after he beat out veteran Cam Newton in the team's QB competition. The Dolphins are starting 2020 No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, who enjoyed an up-and-down rookie campaign.
Jones and Tagovailoa were teammates at Alabama and both led the Crimson Tide to national titles. What does Tagovailoa think of facing his former teammate in the season opener?
“I think it’s going to be competitive, just knowing Mac Jones since I’ve got there. We got in the same time at Alabama,” Tagovailoa said in a press conference Wednesday, per David Furones of the Sun Sentinel.
“He’s a very competitive guy, very smart, athletic, he's instinctive and I know he’s going to do all he can to get his guys ready offensively. That’s what I’m trying to do for our guys, getting ready for the Patriots next week.”
Tagovailoa added: "I haven't been able to talk to Mac. If he's going to watch this sometime, or if it's going to be running on ESPN, good luck Mac."
Tagovailoa played once against the Patriots last season and beat New England 22-10 in Week 15.
He completed 20 of 26 pass attempts for 145 yards with zero passing touchdowns and one interception. He also ran three times for nine yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Both of these teams missed the playoffs last season and are determined to correct that in 2021. A Week 1 victory would be a huge first step toward achieving that goal and give one of these young quarterbacks a nice confidence boost early in the year.