Tomlin: ‘The Door Has Never Been Closed’ For Joshua Dobbs

It is all but inevitable at this point that the Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a period of transition at the quarterback position. It’s quite possible that within two years, the only quarterback currently remaining on the roster who will still be here is the one that is listed as third on the depth chart.

While starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still has three years remaining on his current contract, he has already hammered home a number of times that he is not committing himself to any more than one season at a time, so it certainly cannot be counted upon that he will still be playing in 2019.

As for his backup, Landry Jones, it seems apparent that the Steelers do not necessarily view him as the long-term answer there, re-signing him this offseason to a two-year contract, presumably to serve as a bridge before their rookie, Joshua Dobbs, is able to assume that role.

Could that transition come as early as this year? I would not be one to put my money on that happening. But with training camp breaking yesterday, Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked to address that question, and he said that “the door has never been closed” for Dobbs, and anybody else, to move up and take somebody else’s job.

While that is somewhat of a rote response, I think it should go without saying that it doesn’t really matter to Dobbs what Tomlin says. His goal will inevitably be to play as well as he possibly can and ascend up the depth chart as far and as quickly as his abilities take him.

To that end, he does have some current advantages, some of which were counted upon when he was drafted, some of which were gifted to him during training camp.

Given Roethlisberger’s age, and the wear and tear that comes with it, he has naturally been given his fair share of time off, either sitting out entire practices or not partaking in specific drills on a given afternoon. That has benefitted all of the younger quarterbacks to take more or higher-quality reps.

But one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity, and Jones’ abdominal injury has provided Dobbs with just that. The fifth-year quarterback has missed quite a bit of training camp and will most likely miss his second straight preseason game.

It has already been announced that he will start tomorrow against the Falcons, as he did last week against the Giants. While he struggled, particularly against New York’s first-team defense, there were some signs of progress.

With the first-game jitters out of the way, he could have a real opportunity to present himself tomorrow as a legitimate option as the number two this year. As I said earlier, this is not something that I personally expect to happen, but, as Tomlin said, “the door has never been closed”. Many are hoping that he trots right through it.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • John Pennington

    Hope Dobbs can see the field better reading defenses and his thriws in the flat needs a ton of work and high passes.He has time to work on that as he learns thus season but thus off season he needs to get to a qb camp to work on these things.

  • VaDave

    I think that sums it up pretty well John. Brains can only take you so far. I remember back in the 80’s in the Joe Walton (OC) era with Bubby Brister the starter. Complaints were rampant about the complexity of Walton’s system. One of the beat writers wrote that the Steelers should re-insert Mark Malone as starter as he would have that system down pat in 15 minutes and know exactly which receiver to underthrow….. Seriously, eventually you need to master the physical part of the game to be successful. You can always “Dumb” down a game plan or system, but you can’t systemize a system for a lack of finesse, touch , and the sense of timing needed and expect to get away with it. I’m sure rooting for this kid and from the looks of it, he has improved a great deal from what I saw on his college highlight film. But as Tomlin often says “Still, Miles to go.”

  • Steeler Nation!

    I’d hate to see him forced into any real game duty. He’s got a long way to go. I don’t believe he’ll ever be “the guy”. I just hope he can become a decent backup by 2019.

  • francesco

    I wish to give this rookie a chance but something tells me that his throwing mechanics are off and not natural.

  • Michael Conrad

    I have no idea of what Dobbs upside is. I know LJ has none. I still say at the end of preseason if there is anyone better then LJ a move should be made.

    looking in on preseason games. Teams are getting quicker D lineman and sending more players its a drain on any QB to stay healthy getting hit every game. I don’t want the team in LJ’s hands for four or five games.

    The receiving weapons are to good to let them fester for four or five games under Jones. There are a few QB’s with better accuracy and ability who will come loose at the end of preseason.

    My hope is Jones plays next week. I want to give him one last chance.

  • hdogg48

    He really has had less than a month to practice with his new teammates.
    I would like to see how he has developed his pocket presence tomorrow.
    Unlike against the Giants he should have most of the starters of
    an elite OLIne to protect him this time.

    As far as timing and accuracy, MB has only been back a week
    so let’s see how the reps he was lucky enough to get
    this week with him translates into at least one big play.

    I would like to see him add 10-15 pounds of muscle.
    I can’t remember ANY QB that skinny that reached Pro Bowl
    status let alone Canton enshrinement.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I’ll go a step further and suggest that, should Dobbs be able to effectively run the offense – the way the Steelers bring along QBs – he likely will be the starting QB for the Steelers for a year or two, until he becomes the guy, or they find the guy.

  • Spencer Krick

    Bet he stays #3 this year, if Landry leaves it’s because the Steelers draft another QB high.

  • RickM

    Something is definitely off in the ‘eyes to arm to feet’ combo on some of those short throws. Hopefully the ability to devote himself to football and practice more will get everything sorted out.

  • Steeler Nation!

    We are not unlike almost every other team in the league. We don’t want to see our backup QBs in any regular season action. Right now Jones would give us a far better chance to win a game or 2. Dobbs mechanics are really poor right now. He has to learn a different way of doing things. And that’s difficult when you’ve gotten away with doing things one way for so long, and you have to retrain everything in your body and mind. He may learn and improve, but most do not. I’m rooting for him, but I’m not optimistic

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Haha well said Dave. Have you ever seen the clip of Bret Favre on the sideline asking Ty Detmer, “who’s the nickel?” It was only a couple years later that he’d win back to back MVP’s. Not sure what we can hope for long term with Dobbs. Accuracy is often times a problem that cannot be fixed. If he can improve some, he could be a good backup. I have serious doubts, however, about him as the eventual starter.

  • Steve Johnson

    The kid has played one preseason game. His command of the offense is far ahead of Landry Jones. He also drops back and gets rid of the football quicker than Jones and Big Ben. Jones is entering his 5th season, I think this kid will be better and eventually be the #2 by next year.

  • Steve Johnson

    Tom Brady.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Howbout the guy we’re gonna see Sunday… Matt Ryan

  • hdogg48

    Good point, but Ryan is a pure pocket passer
    and never has or will win a game with his legs,
    whereas Dobbs can and will…as did Big Ben
    when he as younger.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Jones is far from a great backup. I think this kid does offer more potential. But it’s extremely rare that a QB becomes more accurate in the pros than he was in college. In fact, they usually get less accurate. What do you call a 60% passer with arm talent and good mobility? Answer: A damn good backup. Also, he doesn’t get rid of the ball faster than Ben.

  • hdogg48

    Brady, though an inch taller ouweighs Dobbs
    by 10 lbs.

    Also, I can envision Dobbs as an elite scrambler
    especially in the Red Zone with experience.
    He’s going to need to get bigger to do that.

    I’m excited to see how MBs new body of
    10 extra pounds is going to translate to
    play making ability.

  • VaDave

    I don’t think Marcel and I came off as being hypercritical. My comment was just my observation as to where he was to where he is, and certainly didn’t try to imply he has reached his ceiling in any way. But I think it was obvious watching him that his physical attributes have not quite caught up with his mental command of this offense. Under the circumstances I agree, opening night jitters against a first team defense, he did a commendable job. Unfortunately, that level of play will keep you on the bench or unemployed. So in summation, he’s got some more work to do and apply a little more polish to be considered a NFL QB. JMO.

  • VaDave

    Or Terry Bradshaw@ .6′ 3″ 215 lbs… which is exactly Dobbs dimensions. In case you weren’t around during Brad’s rookie year, there are some similarities… just saying. I will say, Bradshaw was a better runner, and definitely had a much stronger arm, but didn’t show a lot of understanding the game. Dobbs understands the game real well, but no where’s near as athletic. Stat wise however, looking a lot alike.

  • hdogg48

    No doubt, but when Bradshaw came into the league
    almost 50 years ago, he was a big guy for that era.

    I like what I see from Dobbs and his ability to throw
    off his back foot on the run.

    Montana did that,as did Elway. So does Russell
    Wilson, and even did John Elway, and Rogers throwing
    on the run is as good as it gets.

    I just think Dobbs needs to bulk up, if he can even
    TRY to hone his skills in order to be a QB of
    the above mentioned mold and skill set.

  • VaDave

    Very true about the size era comment.

  • Alan Tman

    I think Dobbs is going to be better than LJ03 but also agree he is too small right now to play everyday. (Couldn’t take the pounding at this point.) He’s going to have an opportunity to learn a lot by playing so much in the preseason. Let’s see where that takes him.

  • J Jones

    We need to get him some designed runs in early. Helps his confidence, shows the d a new dimension and it keeps the chains moving. 3 and outs dont help anybody needing reps on offense.

  • Rocksolid20

    Well H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS , let’s get rid of Ben . Dodds is the
    second coming !

  • SilverSteel

    But he looks much more accurate on the longer throws. And better on those rollouts. He’s comfortable moving around back there.

  • Steeler Nation!

    If he needs designed runs, he’s not going to be an NFL QB for more than a year or 2.

  • suge man

    Never had a QB coach in college, already has learned the playbook is impressive.

  • suge man

    First game, been to practices since then and he’s looking a lot better, hell we forgot how limited Ben was as a rookie? What 10-15 passes a game.

  • suge man

    Plus having Bell to hand the ball to would help Dobbs more, just like having Bettis there for Ben when he first started, remember Ben throwing 10-15 times a game when he first started

  • suge man

    It’s always harder on a qb when you mix and match starters in the preseason and life changes when you have a Bell in the backfield.

  • suge man

    No Brown, No Bell, and no MB10. With teams focused on on them and with his legs could be a dangerous combo. I think we saw Dak in Dallas, but Dak played his first game with full-time starters unlike Dobbs who had Hamilton and DHB as his WR not Brown and MB10 makes a difference

  • J Jones

    Hyperbole much? There are plenty of qbs who use/used designed runs. Including Ben early in his career. Not saying switch to the wishbone…

  • RickM

    I likely have not seen enough to be sure if he’s more accurate on longer passes. You definitely may be right. I agree that there’s a seeming comfort/confidence level that’s impressive.

    The whole exhibition season drives me nuts lol. I read this morning on another site that Trubisky again outperformed Glennon last night, albeit marginally statistically. No he didn’t. Glennon faced the tougher D most of the time and his performance was actually better. Why writers ignore that it’s easier to perform against back-ups is beyond me.

    It’s the same with the Steelers. I’ll be interested in all of Dobbs’ performance today, but I’ll be most interested in how he competes against the 1st-stringers as opposed to how he competes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters against 2nd stringers and 3rd stringers. Hope he does decently throughout…understanding he’s a rookie that is and will naturally make some mistakes. Enjoy the game.

  • Terrible Towlie

    he was unnecessarily held back

  • Terrible Towlie

    its not like he’s Kordell…..he ‘s a rocket scientist

  • Terrible Towlie

    that skinny….you ever heard of Joe Montana?

  • Terrible Towlie

    Randall Cunningham

  • Terrible Towlie

    our starter is pretty good throwing on the run