Ostensibly, third-year quarterback Joshua Dobbs is directly competing against second-year former third-round pick Mason Rudolph for the right to serve as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger, who has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter since that were in elementary school. That’s not quite how Dobbs is approaching it, however.
“My approach on a day-to-day basis is the same”, he told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You compete against yourself. You compete for perfection on a daily basis. You want to complete every ball and go out and execute every play the best you can”.
So far, he hasn’t exactly been off to a smashing success in training camp. As just one example, he has accounted for the comfortable majority of the Steelers’ interceptions thrown so far. He threw back-to-back interceptions in his first reps in Seven Shots.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t and won’t continue to improve. He showed that consistent growth through the summer last year, and it was enough to vault him over incumbent Landry Jones, unseating him for not only the backup quarterback position, but also a roster spot.
It’s unlikely that either Dobbs or Rudolph loses their roster spot this year, but it is quite possible that Rudolph can win the backup job, sending Dobbs back to the bench in street clothes, where he spent his rookie season in 2017.
You can’t control what your opponent does, however, so Dobbs isn’t sweating it. And you can’t control how people are going to interpret your performance, either. He said of the training camp experience, “it’s a daily competition with yourself to fight that complacency or what you guys are saying in the media”.
Truth be told, I certainly haven’t been the kindest in ‘the media’ (insofar as I deserve to be included among that distinguished group) with respect to my belief in his ability to be a talented NFL-level quarterback. Though I will say that I believe I have always been fair.
One thing that’s important to remember is that Dobbs is still a very young quarterback. He is 24 years old as he heads into his third year, which in theory should mean that he still has plenty of room to grow and mature and get better.
It also means that he needs to get on the field to get better, as his offensive coordinator and position coach, Randy Fichtner, told Rutter. “He’s very intelligent, but just because you’re intelligent doesn’t mean that those reps out on the practice field or in the game” are not important, he said. “You still need them, and he needs a bunch of them”.
There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that he’ll get them. All three of the top quarterback have split reps pretty evenly so far in camp, and the backups will be favored even more heavily in the preseason, where Roethlisberger will have a very light workload.