The saying that no news is good news is far from universally true. We didn’t hear any news on Joshua Dobbs last night—in fact, hardly even saw him, except for perhaps a random shot standing on the sideline with other quarterbacks—because for the first time in his career he did not participate in the preseason.
The second-year quarterback played the entirety of the second half in each of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first two preseason games earlier this month, but in the most important third game, the tune-up for the regular season, he was kept on the bench in favor of the other three quarterbacks.
I wrote yesterday that he was the player on the roster who could least afford not to participate in the game, because he essentially needs to demonstrate that he has the ability to be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup this year in order to make the 53-man roster. I said that it would be bad news for him if he was not given the chance to participate.
Instead, Roethlisberger of course started the game and stayed in for a few series, playing four minutes into the second quarter. Backup Landry Jones played the rest of the quarter, getting three drives and scoring on one, the second of which ended in an interception on what was essentially a dropped pass on a good throw into a tight window.
According to the broadcast, the Steelers actually toyed with the idea of sending in Mason Rudolph for the final drive of the first half in the two-minute drill, the rookie even donning his helmet, but that evidently changed after the punt and subsequent penalty, the coaching staff wanting to give Jones the opportunity to put points on the board after having had a red-zone interception that wasn’t his fault blemish his resume.
So Rudolph had to wait into the second half to play, and he played the whole way. Dobbs remained on the sideline. And the rookie quarterback had a better showing this week than he did the week before, at least in terms of his ability to feel the pressure in the pocket and his comfort level. The offense still struggled to be productive, but he also wasn’t working with much by that point, his main weapon being Jaylen Samuels.
I see it as a virtual impossibility at this point for Dobbs to make the roster. No team is going to look at a quarterback’s performance in a preseason finale and decide that that effort is the convincing argument that he can be trusted in a meaningful game, playing primarily against second- and third-string players or worse.
It’s more likely that his participation in the final preseason game will serve as a showcase for the rest of the league, should anybody want to try to trade for him, if the Steelers can manage to find a partner. Because he didn’t look like a backup this year, and the team doesn’t have the time to develop him behind Jones and Rudolph.