Joshua Dobbs will start over Malik Willis at QB for Titans vs. Jaguars with AFC South title at stake

Joshua Dobbs will start at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans in Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Head coach Mike Vrabel announced the decision on Monday. The winner of the game will secure the AFC South while the loser will miss the playoffs.

"I just think he gives us the best chance right now," Vrabel told reporters.

Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill re-injured his right ankle in a Dec. 18 game against the Los Angeles Chargers and hasn't played since. The Titans have since placed him on injured reserve, effectively ending his season.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) warms up before an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Dallas Cowboys, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Rookie Malik Willis started the following week against the Houston Texans. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 99 yards with two interceptions in the 19-14 loss to the previously 1-win Texans. Dobbs replaced Willis as starter last Thursday in a 27-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The start was the first of his career. He completed 20 of 39 passes for 232 yards with one touchdown and and one interception.

Dobbs, 27, has played sparingly since the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of Tennessee. He made brief relief appearances across two stints with the Steelers in 2018 and 2020. He's also spent time in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars and was previously on the Detroit Lions' practice squad this season. The Titans signed Dobbs off the Lions' practice squad in December after Tannehill injured his ankle. Now he'll play for the AFC South title.

The Titans drafted Willis in the third round of last year's draft out of Liberty. They did not anticipate playing him this season. The rookie was expected to learn from the bench this season, but was thrust into a starting role in Week 8 against the Texans after Tannehill injured his ankle the first time in Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Willis has started three games alongside brief appearances in five others. He's completed 50.8% of his passes for 276 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The Titans are 1-2 in his starts, with a win over the Texans in Week 8 and a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs the following week. A gifted runner, Willis has also tallied 127 yards and a touchdown on 4.6 yards per carry.

But Vrabel deemed that he's not Tennessee's best option in a high-stakes game. So Dobbs, a college star for the Volunteers, will get his second NFL start with a playoff berth at stake.