One of the biggest roster decisions that the Pittsburgh Steelers had to make this year was over who was going to be their number two quarterback. After drafting a player at the position in the third round—the highest they had drafted a quarterback since taking Ben Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004—they had three options at their disposal.
Landry Jones was the veteran who knew the offense like the back of his hand and had stepped in and played well a few times. Joshua Dobbs was added in the fourth-round a year ago. After sitting on the bench as a rookie, he had a good preseason with a great finish and was able to show enough to get the team to believe he could be their number two quarterback.
Mason Rudolph, in the meantime, has spent the entirety of his rookie season on the bench. When Randy Fichtner was asked yesterday to talk about the development of their young quarterbacks, in fact, he never even got around to mentioning the Oklahoma State product, according to the team’s communications department.
With respect to Dobbs, however, he told reporters, “I would say the jury would still be out”. Now that’s not exactly a surprising statement to make about a second-year quarterback who has only had extended playing time in one meaningful game, but still.
“I expected the play wouldn’t go down at all” from the backup position moving from Jones to Dobbs”, he added. Jones, in the meantime, only spent a brief period of time with the Jacksonville Jaguars but failed to dress for games. He has had a number of workouts but hasn’t been able to land anywhere else.
“The first opportunity that Josh had to play in a game was in Baltimore”, Fichtner reminded. Roethlisberger took a hit and had to exit for a play—which came on second and 20 or something like that, deep in their own end. He found JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 22-yard gain.
“We put him in a pretty tough situation. He was backed up. He made a 20-, 20-something-yard completion on second-down and long and that was the only play he played”, Fichtner recalled. But he also remembered that his next opportunity to contribute didn’t go nearly so well.
“Then he went weeks without playing again, and I think that he and I would both expect that he probably could’ve played better in Oakland and that we would need better play”, the offensive coordinator said. “I’m not saying anything I wouldn’t say to him or that he wouldn’t say back to me”.
It’s fair to wonder if Dobbs has played his last snap for a while. As should go without saying, the team will be expecting Rudolph to make significant strides in his second offseason. They drafted him because they viewed him as a first-round talent, and potentially their next starting quarterback. If he can’t claim the backup role by year two, then it would be hard to believe in him as the answer.