In this week’s “Do Your Job” breakdown, we’re going to take a look at the player the Patriots must stop if they wish to have a chance in this game. For those that like to form their own opinions, this is not about who’s the overall best player, but typically, it’s the player who will cause the most issues to the Patriots’ desires of winning.
Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards last week, and although it was largely due to having Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, it was still impressive nonetheless. Some may beg to differ, but Tagovailoa’s issues aren’t with him as a quarterback. His issues actually stem from his health and inability to stay on the field long-term.
When he is on the field, teams have a tough time of stopping him due to his intelligence at the line of scrimmage, accuracy, anticipation and elite release. Tagovailoa might not be throwing it all over the yard, but his first read will be important. He’ll get the ball out before the defensive line can even get their hands on the offensive line at times.
If the Patriots wish to stop Tagovailoa this week, they’ll need to do a good job in the film room to determine where those first reads might be, based off of the formations. What’s more frustrating is that the style of offense Miami runs forces teams to be conservative and die by a thousand paper cuts.
If they crowd the box, they’ll go deep to two of the fastest players in the NFL in Hill and Waddle. If you show two high, they’ll utilize the run game mixing in RPO concepts to throw off the coverages. And they’ll use motion more than anyone to determine what coverage you’re in before you can adjust.
The Patriots, however, have one of the best defensive minds to ever live in Bill Belichick, who will be tasked with slowing down the Miami offense. Luckily for New England, they finally seem to have the personnel and athletes to do so over the middle and allow Tagovailoa to make his first read, but not get much more off of that.
The key to this week is to contain the big plays, get pressure on a weak offensive line and take away Tagovailoa’s first read. Doing all of that will mitigate the impact of the Dolphins’ x-factor and give the Patriots a fighting chance on Sunday night.