The Pittsburgh Steelers have no doubt looked the part so far this preseason, but whether or not that actually carries over into the regular season in any practical way is yet to be determined. Also yet to be determined is who will be the team’s number two quarterback between incumbent Joshua Dobbs and second-year Mason Rudolph.
I do know one thing, though, and that is that if Dobbs fails to retain his backup role, it will simply be because the team can’t trust him to complete to simple passes. Even though he has shown through every game that he is capable of playing plays with both his arm down the field and with his legs, his repeated misfires on relatively routine throws in the short and intermediate areas is a big play-to-play concern.
A two-play sequence in the middle of the second half perfectly encapsulated the enigma that is Joshua Dobbs. On second and nine from the Tennessee Titans’ 38-yard line, he faced heavy pressure but was able to use his speed to outrun two would-be tacklers who would have sacked any other quarterback on the roster. Rolling out to his left, he found and connected with Trey Griffey down the field for 23 yards.
On the very next play, from the 15-yard line, he whiffed, misfiring on a quick out in the flat to 6’8” tight end Zach Gentry, throwing the ball over his head. Later in the game, he threw a pass a bit high to Gentry that went off his fingertips and was picked off in the red zone.
But revisiting that same drive, Dobbs also threw inaccurately to running back Trey Edmunds on third down, needing eight yards from the 13. He was able to get the offense into the red zone multiple times through his several drives, but failed to get into the end zone. He does not have a touchdown yet this preseason, nor, I believe, has he led the offense to a touchdown drive.
This is largely because of the fairly routine passes that he has continued to miss on, a theme that has lasted throughout his career, going back to college. Some have argued that his accuracy issues are minor, but the reality is that it is perhaps the one thing that is holding him back from being able to advance in his career.
By now, he should have cemented himself into that number two role, but instead, he will have to continue to fight with Rudolph for that job, who may currently have the advantage. I will say that it’s looking extremely unlikely that Devlin Hodges has any chance of making the team at this point, but with another solid outing from Rudolph, in which he finally pushed the ball down the field, it also appears the third-year Volunteer may be on the sideline in street clothes again rather than in uniform.