The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Joshua Dobbs would be starting for the Steelers right now if the Jacksonville Jaguars never offered a fifth-round pick for him.
Explanation: The butterfly effect can have some interesting ramifications, for sure. Was the Dobbs trade to the Jaguars the wind of a butterfly’s wing that set into motion the course of action that resulted in Devlin Hodges being the starting quarterback by the end of the season? Given that Dobbs was the number three over Hodges before they found trade resources in exchange for him, it’s certainly fair to debate if he would be in the same place right now.
One thing I do know is that Dobbs probably wishes he never got traded, because Gardner Minshew proved to be more than efficient enough to at least be the long-term backup for Jacksonville, and possibly even the starter. He will at least start the rest of the season, having now surpassed a healthy Nick Foles.
Dobbs was Minshew’s backup while Foles was injured. Little did the Steelers know Ben Roethlisberger would be lost for the year just days after trading him. So Dobbs would’ve been Mason Rudolph’s backup, and then would have played and started when Rudolph was in the concussion protocol.
Hodges being his backup didn’t make Rudolph throw five interceptions in a game and a half and get himself benched. There’s no reason to think that wouldn’t have happened anyway. So there’s not reason to think Dobbs wouldn’t be in Hodges’ shoes, who would probably be where Paxton Lynch is now.
Even if everything would have gone the same up to the first drive of the Bengals game, there’s no telling that Dobbs would have played well enough to justify starting him over Rudolph the following week, let alone the rest of the season.
Let’s not forget the Dobbs didn’t have a very productive preseason this year. If I recall correctly, I did predict that he wouldn’t make the 53-man roster at one point, at least before Hodges had a rough preseason finale with a third-string offensive line. Dobbs’ mobility would have helped him, but he doesn’t have the passing skills to be trusted to start a game.