We have so far gotten a lot of different takes from a lot of different perspectives about the development of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Joshua Dobbs. But one key perspective that we had not yet heard from is from the man primarily responsible for making his life miserable: defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
Fortunately, we did finally hear from Butler on a number of subjects during a recent radio interview, and one of them was about Dobbs. Understandably, as a rookie, the fourth-round draft pick has had his ups and downs.
“He’s in the process of learning”, Butler said of the quarterback. “He’s thrown us the ball a couple times [read: he’s thrown interceptions], but all of them have, including Ben. So he’s still at the process of seeing the difference between NFL defenses and college defenses”.
There was one thing in particular about Dobbs, however, that the veteran coach is hoping to see, and that is how much faster and stronger NFL defenses are, and how that is going to affect the mobile quarterback’s ability to run the ball.
“The thing that I would caution him against a little bit more is tucking the ball and running as much as he is”, the defensive coordinator told his hosts. “That’s his instinct to do that. He’ll find that this game’s a little bit faster than the college game is, so he’s got to be a little bit more careful in terms of staying healthy. You don’t need to be running that ball a whole lot”.
As he deadpanned, when a quarterback takes off running the ball, “it usually attracts a lot of attention.”. And Dobbs should know this, since he attracted a lot of attention while taking off with the ball during his college career.
At Tennessee, the quarterback ran the ball 438 times for 2160 yards and 32 touchdowns. Those are impressive numbers. But on the flip side, he fumbled the ball 29 times during his four-year college career, including 20 fumbles during his junior and senior seasons, 10 apiece.
Inevitably, a lot of those fumbles came from running the ball, but that is only one danger of taking off as a quarterback. The other is, of course, getting injured, and Dobbs is not the biggest player on the field by any means. The Steelers list him at standing at 6’3” and 216 pounds.
If he gets somebody like Stephon Tuitt chasing him down as he takes off, he is going to realize quickly that it would probably be wise to suppress his instinct to run more often. Young quarterbacks who make it into the NFL are more prone to take off and run.
With the rookie set to start the Steelers’ preseason opener tomorrow against the Giants, it will be interesting to see how he handles this instinct going up against a real opposing defense for the first time at the NFL level.