There was no drama about the race to be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback, but Josh Dobbs knocking off Landry Jones for the backup spot was a surprise.
When the Steelers made the decision to spend a third round pick on Mason Rudolph, most people though Josh Dobbs was done in Pittsburgh. Instead, Landry Jones is the signal caller who is losing his job to the former Oklahoma State star.
Jones was certainly the most prominent name among the Steelers’ list of final cuts. Most observers thought he was safely ensconced as the team’s backup behind Ben Roethlisberger. It’s very possible that Dobbs swung his franchise’s way of thinking with an excellent preseason outing against the Panthers.
The former Tennessee star was excellent against Carolina. He finished the game with a stellar QB rating of 137.5 on the back of an 8 for 12, 151 yard game through the air. Dobbs added a touchdown on the ground to go with his one passing touchdown to key the Steelers to a comfortable victory.
Dobbs’ advantage in terms of athleticism also figured into the Steelers’ thinking. Jones is probably a better pure passer, but he’s not a quarterback who will threaten defenses with his feet. In sharp contrast, Dobbs is someone who opposing defenses have to account for on every play. He’s a big play threat on the edge anytime he’s given the opportunity to carry the football.
The long-term plan in Pittsburgh is still to have Rudolph take over when age takes his toll on Big Ben. It is at least possible now that Dobbs can get into the mix to take over for Roethlisberger too. He’s a much different type of signal caller, but he might be more representative of where NFL offenses are headed. Rudolph is a much more conventional option under center.
For Jones, this is a disappointing turn of events, but it shouldn’t end his career. He should attract interest from any team with unproven options at backup quarterback. He’s not good enough to grow into a starter, but he’s more than capable of keeping your team afloat for a few games when a starter is forced to miss meaningful games.
It’s still a surprising move for the Steelers. Keeping Jones was the safe, predictable move. Credit Mike Tomlin and company for going with the guy with more upside.