Friday night turned out to be quite the roller coaster ride for Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie quarterback Joshua Dobbs. While Friday nights may mean a night out on the town for some, it was not for Dobbs (after all he is a rocket scientist, remember?). Instead, the rookie quarterback had his first date with authentic NFL action in New Jersey with the New York Giants.
First dates can be nerve-wracking, even more if your first date involves 11 top tier athletes running haywire all around you. Dobbs knows that feeling all too well as he struggled with accuracy and decision making right out of the gate against the Giants. Luckily, Dobbs was able to re-compose and offset his two early interceptions before the night was over, throwing a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton with just seconds left in the first half. Overall, Dobbs completed 8/15 passes for 100 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
While perhaps not the performance many were expecting of the frequently talked about rookie quarterback, the outcry over his inconsistent play is senseless at best. Dobbs’ composure in his first encounter with NFL play lines up very closely with the rookie debuts of teammates Landry Jones and Ben Roethlisberger.
The year is 2013 and Jones is the newest backup bachelor at the quarterback position for the Steelers. Jones’ timeline is similar to Dobbs, both mid round selections by the Steelers and both having their first taste of NFL action against the Giants. But while Dobbs’ brought more fireworks to his initial start, Jones aimed for a more monotone performance, completing 5/9 passes for just 48 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Though Jones was able to play it safe in his first start, the former Oklahoma Sooner began to crumble as the preseason continued to roll, finishing with a completion percentage of just 45-percent and two touchdowns to three interceptions.
While Jones faltered as he continued to get to know the NFL style of play, you surely would not expect the same out of Roethlisberger – a two-time Super Bowl champion and franchise quarterback. No chance any preseason jitters or adjustment would be enough to rattle the always confident Roethlisberger, right?
Spared the trip to New Jersey, Roethlisberger’s first preseason action came in the Motor City against the Detroit Lions. Roethlisberger flashed his confidence, finishing 8/13 passing for 84 yards and one touchdown – though this would be the only touchdown Roethlisberger would throw all preseason.
Roethlisberger went the next three preseason contests without a passing touchdown while throwing two interceptions. After a strong performance out of the gate, Roethlisberger was essentially shut out the rest of the way.
There is no formula for success based off preseason play which should be evident after looking at the rookie play of Jones and Roethlisberger. Rookies will likely struggle with adjustment to the NFL speed but ultimately the talent will sort itself out. Whether Dobbs struggles to find his footing or finishes with a perfect passer rating over the last three preseason contests, it is unwise to jump to unreasonable conclusions this early.