As the calendar has finally hit the late-July date that signals the start of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we turn our attentions for the next few weeks to just that, training camp, the necessary respite for all football fans who have been the past six weeks wondering what to do with themselves—as least as far as the game goes.
With the start of training camp also comes the start of meaningful competition, and I’m not just talking about players getting to put on pads and smash into each other. There are battles to be won. Position battles, roster battles. Battles for starting jobs.
Before we get too deep into the swing of training camp, here is a quick series that provides a preview of some of the most significant battles that will have to be determined over the course of training camp and the preseason, though the regular season can always decide to change the results.
So let’s talk about the backup quarterback position. Now that we have actually gotten the majority of a game’s worth of study from rookie fourth-round quarterback Joshua Dobbs, we at least have a pretty important data point to work with.
As I argued yesterday, I felt that Dobbs’ NFL debut gave strong indications of why the Steelers are likely going to be content with Landry Jones’ continued tenure as their backup quarterback, a role that he has held for about a season and a half now.
As we took a look at late yesterday, the former Tennessee quarterback really had some significant struggles with his ball placement. Seemingly the majority of his passes were off-target, suffering only one drop on his 15 passes, eight completed, and several of those completions were on throws that were hauled in due to the efforts of the receivers.
It goes without saying that that aspect of the rookie’s game is going to be a work in progress, but there were also several positives to take away from the game as well. He hit some very nice throws, and that included an off-balance throw following a scramble that was dropped. His 16-yard scramble was a good look as well.
With Jones sidelined by an abdominal injury, Dobbs has been afforded a golden opportunity to get some high quality reps, even if during the preseason opener he was without the majority of the team’s best skill position players and two of their starting offensive linemen.
But when Jones does return, I don’t think there is really going to be any dispute about the fifth-year pro returning to his second-string reps. After all, he is going to need them. I know there are very few who are fans of his game, but Dobbs doesn’t look as though he will be prepared to take over the backup role as a rookie.
Of course, he has three more games to try to change the minds of those who matter. And I wouldn’t complain if he showed himself to be the better answer.