In five previous professional seasons, Josh Dobbs has been on three playoff teams.
But the former University of Tennessee quarterback has never led a squad to the NFL postseason.
Following his performance Thursday night, that opportunity appears to be in sight.
Signed by the Tennessee Titans just before their Christmas Eve contest against Houston, Dobbs made his first career start in an eventual 27-13 loss to visiting Dallas – but seemed to give the offense a spark that had been lacking since veteran Ryan Tannehill re-injured his right ankle.
Dobbs threw for 232 yards and a touchdown, the first of his career, and put himself in position to get his second start in Week 18 when the Titans go to AFC South rival Jacksonville with the division title at stake.
“We control our own destiny. Every single person in the locker room understands that,” Dobbs said following Tennessee’s sixth consecutive loss. “We go out and play a good game, play like we know how to play football, don’t hurt ourselves, go play good, clean football in Jacksonville next Sunday – whenever the game is – and we come out with a win, then we’re in the playoffs and we’re rolling from there.”
Prior to joining the Titans, Dobbs had been on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad, continuing an NFL odyssey that began as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fourth-round selection in the 2017 draft. Dobbs spent two stints with the Steelers, and also logged time with the Jaguars. He was waived earlier this season by Cleveland before his signing with the Lions.
“Something we’ve always said, as long as I’ve been here – it doesn’t matter how you end up here or how you get here,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “The only thing that matters is what you do when you’re here.”
What Dobbs did Thursday night was operate the offense at a more advanced level than previously seen from rookie Malik Willis, thrust into the starting role twice this year following Tannehill’s ankle issues.
“He was in command. He was in control,” rookie running back Hassan Haskins said. “He knew everything that was going on. And … you only had, like, a week.
“He did real good.”
After spotting Dallas a 10-point cushion, Dobbs led a couple of second-quarter drives that resulted in field goals. Midway through the third period, after the Cowboys extended the margin to 17-6, Dobbs took the Titans 71 yards on 14 plays and threw to Robert Woods for a 7-yard score – his first – to keep things close.
Following the TD, Dobbs had to scramble to get the game ball.
“There’s no way (Woods) could have known,” he said. “Everyone was obviously extremely excited. I’m like ‘yo, can I keep that, it’s my first one’. Then we just celebrated from there.”
Dobbs is hopeful of more chances to celebrate.
“This was a great opportunity to evaluate Josh,” Vrabel said. “We’ll make a decision going forward. I thought he did some good things. I’m sure he’d like to have a couple of throws back.
“We’ll digest this over the weekend and make a decision.”