Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa Will Face Off in Week 1 in the Battle of the ‘Bama Quarterbacks

There will likely be a lot of intriguing NFL quarterback matchups during the 2021 season. Josh Allen vs. Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady, and Joe Burrow vs. Trevor Lawrence could all make for must-see TV.

For University of Alabama Crimson Tide fans, there is one quarterback matchup they want to see above all others and, luckily, they won’t have to wait long to see it. 

The NFL Schedule comes out Wednesday, May 12

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The NFL, which excels at turning everything they do into a national holiday, will officially release its 2021 schedule on a show called Schedule Release ’21 at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, May 12. The show will be simulcast on the NFL Network, NFL.com, and the NFL app.

In the hours leading up to the show though, the NFL schedule began to leak through various outlets. According to CBS Sports, the NFL’s network partners revealed the full Week 1 slate first thing on Wednesday. 

The opening week of the 2021 season provides some tantalizingly fun matchups. This includes Brady and the Buccaneers kicking off the season against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football.

We’ll also enjoy other great opening games like the Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night. 

The best divisional matchup in Week 1 will be the Miami Dolphins visiting the New England Patriots. This is the game that Alabama fans are circling in their calendar. 

Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa both won National Championships as starting quarterbacks at Alabama

Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa | Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Both Tagovailoa and Jones showed up at Alabama in 2017 as backups to the incumbent starter, Jalen Hurt, as the Sporting News reports. The former gained playing time throughout his freshman season while the latter languished on the bench as a redshirt.

During the 2018 College Football National Championship game, coach Nick Saban called on Tagovailoa to replace an ineffective Hurts. The true freshman guided the team to a victory over Georgia, and Tagovailoa cemented his place as Alabama’s quarterback of the future.

Tagovailoa started 15 games the following season and racked up 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns on his way to finishing second-place in the Heisman Trophy race to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. He would again be the unquestioned starter his junior year, but a season-ending injury gave Jones a chance to step in.

Following his junior season, Tagovailoa left for the NFL draft. This move made Jones the Alabama starter, and he made the most of the opportunity. The now-redshirt junior threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns while guiding Alabama to yet another National Championship.

Jones and Tagovailoa will have many battles to come in the AFC East

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Both Alabama quarterbacks became first-round draft picks. Tagovailoa was picked at No. 5 by the Dolphins in 2020, and the Patriots took Jones at No. 15 in 2021. Being chosen by AFC East teams means that these two former Crimson Tide signal-callers will face each other at least twice a year for the foreseeable future.

These two franchises are both hoping their new Alabama quarterback can return them to glory. In 2020, the Dolphins had just their second winning season of the decade, while the Patriots had their first losing season since 2000.

Both these passers will face other tough challenges in their division as well. The New York Jets now have 2021 No. 2 overall pick, Zach Wilson, and the reigning division champs are Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Jones and Tagovailoa both have a way to go to prove that they are top NFL starting quarterbacks, but Week 1 in 2021 will be the first step in that process. And, they may not know who to root for, but Alabama fans will surely be watching.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference