Teddy Bridgewater will start in place of Tua Tagovailoa — who suffered a concussion in Week 16, Miami coach Mike McDaniel confirmed on Wednesday — when the Dolphins make the trip up to Foxborough. Belichick doesn't see much of a dropoff from Tagovailoa to Bridgewater.
“I’ve always had a ton of respect for Teddy,” Bill Belichick said. “I like Teddy. He’s a good athlete, a good arm, a smart kid. Athletic. Presents a lot of the same problems that Tua does.”
Bridgewater, who's in his ninth season in the league, has somehow never faced the Patriots before. In four games and two starts this season, Bridgewater's completed 37-of-60 passes for three touchdowns and three interceptions, good for a passer rating of 85.6.
With the news of Teddy Bridgewater stating in place for Tua, Bill Belichick said he “has a lot of respect” for Sunday’s starting QB. “Presents a lot of the same problems [as Tua],” Belichick said.#Patriots #Dolphins #ForeverNE pic.twitter.com/0XC18AurO3
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Those numbers are certainly a bit of a dropoff from what Tagovailoa has put up this season. The third-year quarterback is seventh in passing touchdowns (25), 10th in passing yards (3,548) and first in passer rating (105.5) this season and is also 4-0 all-time against the Patriots.
Despite the difference in play, Belichick is still expecting similar things from Bridgewater that he and the Patriots would've seen from Tagovailoa.
“I'd say it's a lot of — it's a high percentage of the offense,” Bill Belichick said. “I'm sure there are things they'd do specifically for one guy or the other, but generally speaking, that's the offense.”
Belichick acknowledged some differences in the style of play between the two quarterbacks, but he mentioned that preparation is still key regardless of who's under center on Sunday.
“One's right-handed, one's left-handed, so that definitely affects some things right there,” Belichick said. “We could be looking at a different quarterback, just like we were at Arizona, in the first series of the game. You have to be ready for who you expect to play but that can change. It's certainly changed for us.”
Even though quarterback is the most important position in the game, it's certainly far from the only factor that determines the final result. Miami's offense has several talented players, including Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Raheem Mostert.
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While Belichick knows the team has to prepare for who will be at quarterback, he also pointed out that they've got to prepare for the Dolphins' whole offensive unit no matter who is at quarterback as the unit ranks fifth in total offense and ninth in scoring.
“They can all run their offense. There's no doubt about it,” Bill Belichick said of Miami's three quarterbacks. “It's still going to be the same thing: You've got two very explosive receivers, got other players that are good players too, got good running backs, they're getting [left guard Liam] Eichenberg back on the offensive line, whatever his status is. It's a team that can move the ball. Their production on first down is extremely good and that's with a number of different players, quarterbacks — you name it.
“So, it's a big challenge for us.”
Tua Tagovailoa's injury threw a wrench into what has turned into a pivotal game for both teams. If the Patriots lose, the Dolphins clinch a playoff spot and New England's season will end after Week 18. If the Patriots win, though, they'll pass the Dolphins for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC and will control their own destiny going into Week 18.