The Cowboys figured to be squaring off against a relatively inexperienced quarterback when they visit Nashville. But it turns out they’ll face someone with even less of an NFL body of work than the rookie they were expecting.
Tennessee will reportedly start newly-signed Joshua Dobbs at quarterback over third-round draft pick Malik Willis. That news comes from Justin Melo of The Draft Network just hours before the two teams’ Week 17 kickoff.
Dobbs was a fourth-round pick by the Steelers in 2017. He was with Pittsburgh for two full seasons, seeing action in five games before being traded to Jacksonville early in the 2019 campaign. After a year on the sideline, he was waived by the Jaguars and re-claimed by the Steelers. He got into the 2021 season finale for some limited snaps, his most recent paying time in the league. Dobbs started the 2022 season with Cleveland but was waived in late November upon Deshaun Watson’s return from suspension, then spent a few weeks on Detroit’s practice squad, and finally signed on to the Titans’ practice squad on Dec. 21.
Eight days later, it appears the ex-Tennessee Volunteer will be making his first-pro start for the Titans in a primetime matchup against Dallas and their top-10 pass defense.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has been complimentary of the 27-year-old’s work in getting a quick grasp on the playbook; offensive coordinator Todd Downing said just this week that “he’d be confident in using Dobbs if necessary … albeit with a pared-down scheme.”
Willis, the highly-touted rookie out of Liberty University, had been expected to make his fourth NFL start, filling in for veteran Ryan Tannehill, who is out with an ankle injury.
But if Willis is the Titans’ long-term plan at quarterback, he hasn’t done much to stake a strong claim on the job beyond this year. He is currently 31-of-61 passing for just 276 yards in eight game appearances. He has yet to throw an NFL touchdown, but has dealt three interceptions to opponents. Willis’s calling card is his dual-threat nature as a runner; he has 123 yards and one score on the ground on 27 attempts.
The career statline on Dobbs: 10-for-17, 45 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 39.1 passer rating, 6 rushing attempts, 31 rushing yards.