Former Tennessee Volunteers football quarterback Joshua Dobbs started for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the in the first week of 2019 NFL preseason.
Given their recent history, it’s actually pretty impressive for Tennessee football to have two quarterbacks in the pros who have secured contracts, even as backups. On Friday, both of them played during the first week of NFL preseason.
Tyler Bray was unimpressive with the Chicago Bears, going 8-of-17 for 85 yards and getting sacked three times in a 23-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers. But since Bray has been a journeyman backup since 2013 in the pros, the real story is Josh Dobbs.
Entering his third year, Dobbs started the first week of the NFL preseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He currently has competition not just to be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup quarterback but to hold onto a roster spot with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges now there.
Given the fact that he has already played in five games, though, Dobbs has the most pressure of the three, since Rudolph is in his second year and Hodges is a rookie. And his results on Friday with that type of pressure were, well, mixed.
Dobbs had some flashy plays that Vol fans used to love when he played on Rocky Top. There was this beautiful pass that he threw from his own end zone to connect with James Washington for a big gain to midfield.
Then Dobbs showed his mobility, which is a big reason he was fun to watch on Rocky Top and consistently bailed out Butch Jones. This 36-yard run with Tampa Bay up by a touchdown in the second quarter was a crucial part of the game.
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Those two plays alone anecdotally would be good NFL preseason news. However, for Dobbs, it was more bad news than good news. Outside of those plays, he still finished only 5-of-8 for 85 yards with no touchdowns. Sure, he had no interceptions, but he was sacked twice. To be fair, a 98.4 QB rating is pretty solid, as is two carries for 44 yards.
But the problem for Dobbs is what the other quarterbacks did as the Steelers won this game 30-28. Rudolph also went 5-of-8, but he went for 91 yards and had two touchdowns with no interceptions while not getting sacked. Hodges, meanwhile, was 8-of-14 for 79 yards and also had a touchdown.
Overall, Dobbs may have been slightly better than Hodges, even with that TD. But Hodges is a rookie. And Rudolph was unquestionably better than Dobbs. As a result, he’s got to do a bit more in future NFL preseason games to hold onto his spot.
Given his past, Dobbs has probably proven enough to have a roster spot somewhere in the pros. But he’s in a good situation right now playing for Mike Tomlin and behind Roethlisberger, especially with Big Ben’s possibility of retiring after this year. So Dobbs is currently in a great situation. To hold onto it, he’s got to play better.