Joshua Dobbs landed in Jacksonville earlier this week after being traded to the Jaguars from Pittsburgh, pulled up to TIAA Bank Field and got a nice glow from seeing the site of one of his greatest college triumphs.
“That was fun … a good way to end the season,” the Tennessee graduate said of the 2015 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, when he led the Volunteers to a 45-28 victory over Iowa by throwing for 129 yards and running for 84, accounting for a touchdown both ways to earn game MVP honors. “It was good to have a nice, warm game in January. I enjoyed the city then, and I’m excited to embrace this opportunity.”
Dobbs becomes the first line of defense behind Gardner Minshew at quarterback, with Minshew being thrust into the starting role after Nick Foles was injured last week against Kansas City.
Minshew will make his first NFL start on Saturday at Houston (1 p.m., CBS) as the Jags and Texans (both 0-1) each play their AFC South opener.
Dobbs was acquired from the Steelers for a fifth-round draft pick in 2020. He has thrown only 12 NFL passes (completing six, for 43 yards) and has gained 11 yards on four rushing attempts.
In eight preseason games in the last two seasons, Dobbs has thrown for 840 yards and six touchdowns, completing .626 of his passes.
On Sunday night, he was on the field when the Steelers lost to New England 33-3.
On Monday morning, he was on a plane to Jacksonville.
“It was a pretty crazy week,” he said on Thursday following a Jaguars practice. “They tell you’re traded. Two hours later, you’re at the airport. You threw stuff in the pack, packed for two weeks and on your way to Jacksonville. It was a hectic turn of events, but you embrace it and continue to learn and grow.”
At 6 feet 3 and 216 pounds, Dobbs has prototypical NFL size.
With a degree in aerospace engineering and a 4.0 GPA at UT, Dobbs has more than a prototypical mind.
Minshew topped Dobbs on the NFL’s controversial Wonderlic Test, 42-29. But he said he wasn’t about to match sheepskins.
“I have a communications degree,” Minshew said when discussing the depth of gray matter in the Jaguars’ quarterback room. “I know all of you know [the media] about it. Shoot. I belong more in this room than that one.”
For the time being, Dobbs said he’s trying to learn from Minshew.
“My goal is to help the team whenever I can, getting the playbook down as quickly as possible, be able to offer input and help on Sunday,” he said. “I’ll continue to try and grow every day, build my role, whatever it takes this season. Right now, I’m trying to be around Gardner and pick his brain about the playbook. He’s helped me a lot.”
Dobbs had already seen highlights in the Jaguars game against Kansas City, when Minshew came off the bench to complete 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
“He was very decisive,” Dobbs said of Minshew. “The stat line says it. He moved the ball up and down the field and kept the team in the game.”
Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said he interviewed Dobbs during the 2017 draft process when he was the quarterback coach for the Eagles and admitted that a lot has been thrown at Dobbs in the first few days he’s been in Jacksonville.
“He’s a really nice kid, a really great kid.” DeFilippo said. “Obviously, he’s going out there and just trying to keep his head above water. We’re going to try and help him and get that process started as quickly as possible. His role right now is just try and get acclimated with the offense first and acclimated with his teammates and the coaches and the system.”
Dobbs said he was looking forward to working with the Jaguars wide receivers in practices. He watched Dede Westbrook play when Tennessee faced Oklahoma in 2015, worked out in the same facility as Chris Conley over the summer in Atlanta and also knows Marqise Lee.
“I’m excited to be around all these playmakers,” Dobbs said.
No one with the Jaguars wants to think about this possibility, but Dobbs said if he has to play, he believes DeFilippo’s system meshes with his talents.
“There are a lot of similar concepts to what I ran in college,” he said. “If there are progressions you’ve made, plays you’ve run, reads you’ve seen, throws you’ve made already, it’s comforting. It might be called something different, but the plays are the same. It’s good to see plays I’ve been successful in.”
DeFilippo said there will be a game plan in place if Dobbs has to play.
“Obviously, if a situation –- knock on wood –- happens Sunday, you go into the situation to say [to Dobbs], ‘Hey, what are you comfortable with?’” he said. “Those are the cards we are dealt.”