Heading into their Week 1 matchup, Tua Tagovailoa has a slight advantage over his former Alabama teammate Mac Jones. The Miami Dolphins quarterback has a year of NFL experience under his belt while the New England Patriots signal-caller will be making his pro debut.
But despite entering his second NFL season, Tagovailoa will have to overcome an element of the game he didn't have to deal with in 2020: road crowd noise. He'll be thrown in front of a rowdy Gillette Stadium crowd after playing in front of empty stadiums throughout last season.
Warren Sharp of SharpFootballAnalysis.com believes that key factor may lead to some struggles for Tagovailoa on Sunday.
"I don't think people understand, last season when there wasn't crowd noise, the quarterbacks that were on the road, they could go up to the line of scrimmage. They could work with the center. They could design protection. The entire offensive line could hear the snap count perfectly," Sharp said on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition.
"That ended up having a trickle-down effect. Never in NFL history have road quarterbacks had a higher completion rate, higher yards per attempt, higher efficiency ratings than they did last season on the road.
"All of that, I think, is going to regress a little bit this season. I think that Tua potentially will struggle a little bit here having crowd noise for the first time in his NFL career because last year he was just a rookie without it."
Tagovailoa is no stranger to loud crowd noise, of course. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft played in the SEC, after all, and led the Crimson Tide to a national title in 2017. Still, it isn't a stretch to say an enthusiastic crowd and a tough Patriots defense both could cause some issues for Tagovailoa on opening week.
Tagovailoa went 6-3 as Miami's starter last year after taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 23-year-old completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Kickoff for Sunday's Patriots-Dolphins matchup is set for 4:25 p.m. ET.
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