What Can We Expect From Tua's First Start?

Alain Poupart

Tua Tagovailoa's much-anticipated NFL starting debut will come Nov. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, a team that features the most dominating defensive player in the league (Aaron Donald) and one of the top cornerbacks (Jalen Ramsey).

Tagovailoa threw his first two NFL passes in the late stages of the Dolphins' 24-0 victory against the New York Jets last Sunday, but this will be vastly different with his taking the first snap of the game.

When it comes to what the offense will look like with Tagovailoa at quarterback, head coach Brian Flores said there are simply too many variables to offer a simple, definitive answer.

"I think every week is a little bit different based on the opponent — what they do well, where their weaknesses are, where their strengths are — so I think the offense is different every week," Flores said. "The defense is different every week, so it’s kind of hard to say. But ‘Fitz’ did a lot for us offensively as far as communication, getting guys lined up. Tua is going to have to do a good job of that as well and we going to need everyone to step up.”

The next question when it comes to Tua's first start is what should be realistic expectations for the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft for that first game.

We already explored this week the first start for all of the Dolphins' post-Dan Marino quarterbacks, but none of them were all that similar to Tagovailoa in terms of draft status or skill set.

So maybe it's better to try to find a comparison with the NFL quarterbacks to whom Tagovailoa was compared as he entered the draft, and the two guys who were mentioned were Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.

Unlike Tagovailoa, neither Brees nor Wilson were first-round picks, Brees having been selected at the top of Round 2 by the San Diego Chargers in 2001 and Wilson having been taken in Round 3 by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.

Wilson became an immediate starter for the Seahawks after beating out Matt Flynn in training camp. In the 2012 opener at Arizona, Wilson completed 18 of 34 passes for 153 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 20-16 loss and had a passer rating of 62.5.

Brees had a different route than Wilson. He spent his entire rookie season as the backup to Doug Flutie and didn't make his first start until the 2002 opener.

In his one relief appearance in 2001, Brees completed 15 of 27 passes for 221 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in a 25-20 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. In his first NFL start, Brees was 15-for-19 for 160 yards with two touchdowns and no picks when the Chargers sailed to a 34-6 season-opening victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lastly, we look at the Rams and what they've done on defense so far this season.

In their first six games, Rams opponents have combined for an 87.9 passer rating — well below the league average — based on 139 completions in 214 attempts for 1,388 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

Opposing quarterbacks have averaged 231.3 yards against the Rams, with a high of 311 by Buffalo's Josh Allen and a low of 111 by Washington's Kyle Allen and Alex Smith.

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