For just any every single college player that ends up getting drafted, they have probably very little experience with being on football teams and not actually playing. Even the undrafted free agents who sign with teams after the draft, the vast majority of them were very good players for their college teams.
For Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs, the 2017 season, his first year as a professional athlete, was an eye-opening experience. It was the first time since he was five years old that he actually didn’t get to play, if you exclude the preseason.
Dobbs was a star quarterback at Tennessee. In Pittsburgh, he is the third-string quarterback, not even getting to wear a uniform on game day. I believe the only time that he dressed in 2017 was for the regular season finale, during which Landry Jones started and Ben Roethlisberger was given rest.
He admits that wasn’t easy, and is something that he just had the learn to live with.
“Any competitor would say you want to get on the field, and that’s why you come here every day”, he told Teresa Varley. “That’s why you work every day. That’s why you work so hard in the offseason. You want to play in the games, on gameday. It’s tough”.
As he points out, “the quarterback position is the only position on the field where only one guy plays, so you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt. You can’t let that deter you. You can’t let it take away from your competitiveness, but you also have to just be humble, be patient and just stay ready”.
But he was able to learn a lot in the process, including from Jones. “Just being in the room with him, seeing how he goes about his business, even when you’re not playing, but still how you’re focused on the game plan, how you’re studying it, how you’re watching the looks and how you’re really preparing as if you’re starting the game”, he said.
“It’s cool to get that insight from him because it’s different from college to the NFL level. The amount of studying that you have to do and the details and nuances of each defense are so much more. To be able to dive in with that and learn how he goes about his business was crucial”.
Of course, he is more interested in learning how to play the quarterback position as a starter at the NFL level than he is about how to deal with being a backup. And he also told Varley about how much he learned just from watching Roethlisberger on the field, and of the tips that he provided.
“He would always give different coaching points on the field of different footwork, different things in the film room when we were watching games, just kind of explaining why he did something in a specific situation”, he said of Roethlisberger.
Going into his second season in 2018, Dobbs is surely hoping to compete to back up Roethlisberger, though Jones will be considered the odds-on favorite. Much will depend on him and how much he shows that he has grown after a year in the league, and in the system.