Steelers’ Josh Dobbs proud of 2018, vows to progress more in ’19
It was only 12 pass attempts spread out over 30 snaps, mostly in six possessions, in five games.
But to Josh Dobbs, the satisfaction of getting his first taste of NFL regular-season action outweighed its brevity.
“It was great to get out there, and I am definitely fiending for some more,” the Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback said at the conclusion of this past season.
Dobbs was reflecting on a 2018 that in many ways exceeded external expectations for him, particularly after the Steelers picked up quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round of last year’s draft.
Dobbs went from potential quarterback of the future to a perceived No. 4 option behind longtime starter Ben Roethlisberger, veteran backup Landry Jones and Rudolph. But during the summer and preseason Dobbs defied the odds and beat out Jones and Rudolph for the No. 2 gig.
“Definitely, there were positives to take from (2018),” Dobbs said. “Obviously, you wish the team would have gone farther, so there’s frustration in that … But it was a fun year, a fun season. I felt like I grew a lot personally and in my role with the team.
“I feel like I was able to take some steps forward. And I look forward to this offseason, when I can take just as many steps forward and in the right direction as well.”
A star at Tennessee and fourth-round pick in 2017 who spent his rookie year as the No. 3 quarterback, Dobbs’ stats come from much too small a sample size to glean anything: 6 of 12 for 43 yards and an interception. He did, though, have a promising preseason: 29 of 43 for 434 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The majority of his regular-season action came during a Dec. 9 game in Oakland when Roethlisberger was having bruised ribs attended to. Dobbs led the offense for four possessions, but the results were 58 yards, four first downs and zero points.
He also made three appearances in mop-up duty of blowouts, but the highlight of Dobbs’ NFL career to this point has to be his 22-yard completion while standing in the Steelers’ end zone at M&T Bank Stadium early during the fourth quarter of a win Nov. 4 at the Baltimore Ravens.
Dobbs will not dwell on the good nor the bad over the offseason.
“You can’t over-analyze it, but obviously I will watch it and grow from it,” he said. “But it’s not something where I will be watching every single play 5,000 times. I know what happened in my head. But it was definitely something to learn from. Just continuing to grow, pre-snap stuff, mentally, get in that game rhythm.”
Among the bigger highlights was, with Jones gone, he became the conduit of information for Roethlisberger. It became clear by the end of the season Roethlisberger had developed trust in Dobbs’ in-game observations and opinions.
“I have been watching Ben play forever it feels like, you know?” Dobbs said. “So to be able to come in and him look at me for ideas on the field in game action or ask me something when I’m sitting on the sidelines, it’s a pretty cool experience.
“I know that trust builds with time. So just I was able to be consistent and give him good information that he would use on the field to come back on. So it was a really cool feeling to have. Obviously, anything I can help us win, that’s what I am here for. So I was grateful I was able to help in that way.”
Barring injury to Roethlisberger, that’s what Dobbs’ contributions to the 2019 Steelers will be limited to, as well. If that. Conventional wisdom suggests in Year 2, Rudolph, like Dobbs a season prior, will take a step forward. That could mean Dobbs will have trouble holding Rudolph off for the top backup gig.
As he was beginning his offseason, Dobbs said he was not worrying about that.
“The way you approach it is, every day will be a day to find something,” Dobbs said. “Find a stone, turn it over, flip it, learn it, grow from it and continue to move forward.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .