2017 Training Camp Battle Preview: Backup Quarterback


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.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Ken

    so really the drafting of Dobbs means for the current, one more player that can’t be on the practice squad because the can’t cut him.

  • Lambert58

    I wasn’t a big fan of the pick. But it does strengthen the position. Let’s give Dobbs a couple of years to see what he can do.

  • Steeler Nation!

    It seems for some fans this is truly personal. I wish either or both of them were a helluva lot better than they are! Maybe Dobbs will be in the future, but it was ugly Friday night. It’ll most likely take years, not weeks. Jones is what he is. I’m betting on a 1st round draft pick in 2018.

  • dany

    It’s simple, if this was a team with no franchise QB just searching for its starter, Dobbs would probably be ahead of Landry, because you know what you have in Landry already, he’s simply your backup and Dobbs you’ d want to see what he’s got. In the steelers case, the backup is about who can help them survive a couple of games in case Ben goes down, and that’s Landry without a shadow of a doubt. Develop him and next year hopefully he’s in that #2 conversation

  • Steve Johnson

    It has taken four years for Landry Jones to look as fluent in the pocket as Joshua Dobbs looked Friday night. After the kid settled down, I liked the way he dropped back and got rid of the football. Landry Jones? The only game he has every looked that good was back in January, 2017 when they played Cleveland, wk #17. The ceiling is set for Jones, give as many reps as they can to Dobbs. I’m curious to see how he does Sunday night.

  • Michael Conrad

    I don’t see a need to play LJ a lot in the preseason .
    He is the backup and a very bad one at that but its his job and he could play for 100 years and never improve what he is a poor backup. We all hope he never sees the filed other then mop up for Ben.

    I think they should play Dobbs as much as they can in the preseason for a couple reasons. See if Dobbs improves and give him experience if Ben goes down long term.

    LJ could come in for a couple games and maybe get a win but sooner or later he will just suck because he does . We all know that.
    Steelers know a QB should be their number one pick next year.

  • Matthew Marczi

    This would be true no matter who is on the roster because it’s their philosophy to carry three quarterbacks. Under normal circumstances the number three is going to be inactive for the entire season.

  • J Jones

    While i like dobbs i cant say i expected him to beat out Landry just yet. Landry has some positives in his game. Always been ok with him in his current role. Cant express how valuable the start vs the Gmen was to #5s growth tho. NYs defense is the truth and they roughed him up a lil bit, forced him to play in a real football game for most of the night as opposed to just going thru the motions to impress the coaches and putting up good “film”