When the Arizona Cardinals traded a 5th round pick to the Cleveland Browns a mere two weeks before the regular NFL season began, I immediately reached out to my good friend, Barry Shuck, the highly regarded, veteran writer for SB Nation’s Dawgs by Nature.
I asked Barry for his insights regarding the Josh Dobbs trade. Here is what Barry sent me:
Josh Dobbs to Cardinals
Josh Dobbs had a very good preseason and it was suggested by more than one media outlet that perhaps he should start until Watson’s return. In the end, it was Jacoby Brissett. And when Watson did return, it was Dobbs who was begrudgingly released to make room for him.
Dobbs (age 28) was originally a fourth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017. With Cleveland, he was on a one-year deal worth $1.035 million while Brissett was making $4.65 million. The Browns had worked out Watson’s big money deal to where he was only paid $1.035million during his suspension year and then jumped to $46 million a year beginning in 2023.
Cleveland only wanted to keep two signal-callers and cutting Dobbs helped their salary cap.
Going into the 2023 season, the Cleveland Browns knew that their $230 million man Deshaun Watson was going to be their obvious starting quarterback. The question was: who would become his backup?
The Browns would have loved for Jacoby Brissett to remain on the roster, but he wanted what every player desires and that is a chance to become the starter. So, he signed with the Washington Commanders.
Cleveland re-signed QB Kellen Mond during the off-season, drafted Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) out of UCLA in the NFL draft, and then signed Josh Dobbs who was Brissett’s backup while Watson was on suspension.
After starting two games for the Tennessee Titans plus the excellent preseason Josh Dobbs had with the Browns, GM Andrew Berry re-signed Dobbs to compete for the backup job in training camp.
This time around, Dobbs was inked to a $2 million deal fully guaranteed. As camp progressed, Dobbs was given more reps with the first team and solidified his standing as Watson’s backup.
The new guy impresses
At the same time, the rookie DTR was tearing it up in preseason games. But keep in mind, when DTR was in the game, he was with the second team offensive unit playing against the other team’s backup defense. While the Browns were happy that their rookie was making a statement,
Dobbs had NFL experience and had been in the league since 2017. Nobody wants to insert a fifth-round rookie into a live game that counts, and Dobbs had clearly won the backup position.
So why did the Browns trade Dobbs?
Many media sources are asking the same question.
Arizona initiated the trade. And offering a fifth-round pick was certainly enticing for Berry for a backup player. The fact that DTR has surprised every one of his play during all four preseason games is certainly the reason. Stefanski had already announced that Dobbs was the Browns backup QB for this season.
However, the Browns are counting on Watson to remain healthy and so far he has been very durable. If DTR is suddenly thrust into an actual game that counts, it could be problematic - or he could become this rookie sensation. DTR has yet to face any worthwhile competition other than backups.
DTR did arrive in Cleveland with a lot of experience. He was a fifth-year senior due to COVID and started 10 games as a freshman. In all, he had 48 college starts. But of course, playing Cal and San Diego State is not like suiting up against NFL clubs. The thought process with Cleveland is that DTR is more NFL-ready than the average rookie quarterback.
The trade of Dobbs to Arizona just might bite the Browns in the ass. Notre Dame QB Deshone Kizer played extremely well during 2017 preseason games as a rookie, then was horrible in live regular season games. Rookies are a tough call using only preseason games.
Dobbs in Arizona
What is a bonus for the Cardinals is that former Browns QB coach Drew Petzing is now employed by Arizona as the OC. And Petzing’s offensive scheme is very similar to what the Browns were running. This means Dobbs is not saddled with having to learn a new playbook, strategies, signals, or newfangled terminology.
All Dobbs has to do is switch jerseys.
So, what are the Cardinals getting in Dobbs? For one, he is very intelligent. At the University of Tennessee, he did his academic work literally as a rocket scientist. In his senior year, he was taking astronautics, and propulsion plus an aerodynamics class.
He is also a great all-around athlete in that he has a strong arm, is a good scrambler, has 4.63 speed, and is known for his quick release.
The knock on him is he does possess small hands which will cause fumbling issues on occasion. This came into play in the final Titans game with a playoff berth on the line and he fumbled late in the game that eliminated any chance of pulling out a win.
The more times I read the insights on Josh Dobbs and the backup QB situation in Cleveland, the more impressed I am with Barry Shuck’s prescient, and highly accurate assessments.
Even a couple of weeks before Deshaun Watson’s injury, Barry emailed me this comment:
“Dobbs looks good. Please send him back because he was sent to Phoenix by mistake. We meant to ship Deshaun but the dog ate our shipping labels.”
Josh Dobbs’ name has popped up quite frequently this week in Cleveland, because after Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw 3 interceptions last week in relief of the injured Watson during the Brown’s 27-3 loss to the Ravens—- and in light of Watson having to miss this week’s game at home versus the 49ers —- it appears that the Browns are turning the QB reins over to P.J. Walker, formerly the QB2 in Carolina.
This is the Browns’ QB2 scenario that Barry Shuck had strong reservations about when Josh Dobbs was traded.
Dobbs on the Job:
After 5 games, here is where Josh Dobbs stands on the QB rankings:
- QBR: Adjusted Total Quarterback Rating, which values the quarterback on all play types on a 0-100 scale adjusted for the strength of opposing defenses faced.
- PAA: Number of points contributed by a quarterback, accounting for QBR and how much he plays, above the level of an average quarterback.
- PLAYS: Plays on which the QB has a non-zero expected points contribution. Includes most plays that are not handoffs.
- EPA: Total expected points added with low leverage plays, according to ESPN Win Probability model, down-weighted.
- PASS: Expected points added on pass attempts with low leverage plays down-weighted.
- RUN: Clutch-weighted expected points added through rushes
- SACK: Expected points added on sacks with low leverage plays down-weighted.
- PEN: Expected points added on penalties with low leverage plays down-weighted.
- RAW: Raw Total Quarterback Rating, which values quarterback on all play types on a 0-100 scale (not adjusted for opposing defenses faced)
- QBR —- 55.5 —- 16th
- PAA —- 3.2 —- 14th
- PLAYS —- 210 —- 13th
- EPA —- 19.4 —- 15th
- PASS —- 12.6 —- 18th
- RUN —- 5.7 —- 5th
- SACK — (-3.4) —- 11th
- PEN —- 1.1 —- 10th
- RAW —- 55.4 —- 13th
- In all of the categories but one, Josh Dobbs’ rankings are in the top half of the league. And what makes Dobbs’ top half rankings even more impressive is the strength of the defenses he’s competed against, in particular, the defenses in SF and DAL. And those were two of Dobbs’ best games. QBR vs. DAL: 99.9; QBR vs. SF: 102.2.
Note: Josh Dobbs’ RAW grade after 5 games is higher than the following QBs:
- Trevor Lawrence
- C.J. Stroud
- Lamar Jackson
- Sam Howell
- Anthony Richardson
- Justin Fields
- Derek Carr
- Deshaun Watson
- Desmond Ridder
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- Jordan Love
- Mac Jones
- Russell Wilson
- Daniel Jones
- Joe Burrow
- Zach Wilson
- Bryce Young
- Ryan Tannehill
- Kenny Pickett
Coming off his roughest performance this season versus the Bengals (57.6 QBR), will Josh Dobbs get back on track versus the Rams?
Dobbs’ Future in Arizona?
Based on JG’s recent comments regarding Kyler Murray, it appears that Kyler, barring any unforeseen setbacks, will be taken off the PUP list likely sometime over the next 2 weeks. Some of the Arizona pundits are projecting Kyler’s return to be Week 10 at home versus ATL.
If that turns out to be the case, Josh Dobbs’ remaining games as the starter would be:
- @ LAR
- @ SEA
- vs BAL
- @ CLE
These four games are huge for Josh Dobbs. This is the first time in his 7-year NFL career he has had the opportunity to start more than a half season’s stretch of games. Obviously, this is unchartered territory for him. He’s only 28 —- he turns 29 in January.
Will the Cardinals sign Josh Dobbs to a new contract?
This poll is closed
Yes, 1-year deal with incentives
Yes, 2-year deal with incentives
Yes, 3-year deal with incentives
No, he’ll get higher offers elsewhere.
No, he won’t be in team’s future plans.
Previous ROTB Poll
Through 4 games against three top NFL defenses, does Josh Dobbs look to you like a bona fide starting QB?
- 81% —-Yes —- (423 votes)
- 19% —- No —- (101 votes)
524 votes total
If Josh Dobbs can retain the “yes he looks like a bona fide starting QB” over the next 4 weeks, the trajectory of his NFL career could skyrocket. Would you agree?
If in Cards-speak, Josh Dobbs “shoots the moon” he can start winning the Game of Hearts in Arizona or with some GMs around the league.
Special thanks to you, Barry Shuck.
Red Rain Podcast —- last week of October —- I have invited Barry to join Kyle and me for a preview of the Cardinals/Browns game on November 5th and our annual “Trading Deadline” trade predictions. We never quite pulled off the TE David Nijoku for a 3rd round pick that we agreed to and predicted a couple of years ago —- but hey —- one of these days we might get one right, who knows?