As he prepares for a training camp battle for the Steelers No. 2 quarterback spot, Joshua Dobbs can look back at what was a tale of two completely different seasons.
His rookie year in 2017 he was the team’s No. 3 quarterback, not getting a single snap in a game and rarely getting reps in practice.
In 2018 he was the team’s No. 2 quarterback, the guy behind Ben Roethlisberger who had to be ready at a moment’s notice, while at the same time knowing he would only play in case of an emergency.
They were two seasons that came with different challenges, but ones he had no problem dealing with.
“Both seasons were mentally challenging in different ways,” said Dobbs. “When you’re not dressing on Sunday you know you’re not going to go in no matter what happens throughout the game. That was what it was like my rookie year. It was tough. It’s a long season and you’re like, ‘Dang, I’m not playing.’ It’s extremely tough, especially when you’ve been the starter, been that guy since you were age five.
“But last year it was a different mental challenge because you are dressing on Sunday. But you’re not the starter and you don’t know when the opportunity is going to come, yet you have to be ready. Every play that goes on in the game, you are keeping your mind into. It can be tough because you’re removed from it, you’re standing on the sideline. It’s definitely mentally challenging to keep your head focused on every single play because you never know when you’re going to be thrust into action quickly. When you might go from standing on the sideline in a hat to running in there controlling the offense.
“My first two years were two different mental struggles. I’ve learned a lot from both of them. They’ve helped me a lot. Growing up I was never a patient guy, so it helped me learn the virtue of patience, the virtue of coming in with a consistent mindset. Every day, working towards a goal and being ready when the opportunity comes to go out and execute and jump on it.”
The other aspect that benefitted Dobbs last season was serving as an extra set of eyes for Roethlisberger on the sidelines. In that role it gave him a much more in depth understanding of the offense, always being the guy who was watching every snap, focused on every play.
“I watched for different things,” said Dobbs. “It depended on the circumstance, but I would look for defensive looks, mainly looking for what are we doing right now and what defensive looks are we getting. Also looking at what we’re doing and what could we do to make a slight tweak to make a big play. I would watch the matchups. Seeing their tendencies on third down and in the red zone. And seeing what we can call based on those tendencies and our week of preparation.
“It all went into the information I was trying to take in and be helpful to the receivers or Ben or anyone who needed an extra set of eyes.”
What it was also helpful for was Dobbs’ development. Being in a position where he couldn’t miss a play was a learning experience for him, giving him a better understanding of the offense and the game overall, something he put to work this offseason, through OTAs and minicamp to prep him for when the team returns in July to Saint Vincent College for training camp.
“I grew a lot,” said Dobbs. “Last year was an amazing year for me. Just the situation, coming in at the beginning of the season there was a lot of uncertainty and learning how to focus on the things I can control. I learned how to get in the right mindset of that. Then another year of learning under Ben, learning how grow to become a successful quarterback in this league. Last year helped me a lot.”