The Titans weren’t expected to put up much of a fight in their Week 17 game against the Cowboys.
Dallas is one of the best teams in the league, after all. Even without Pro Bowl running back Tony Pollard, the odds seemed stacked in its favor.
On top of that, Joshua Dobbs was under center for Tennessee. Dobbs had been with the team for barely more than a week.
And yet, the Titans held firm. It wasn’t a perfect display by the former Volunteers star, but he was decisive in the pocket and made a handful of impressive throws. Some of them resulted in big gains, while others could have been fruitful had his wideouts not dropped them.
MORE: Cowboys top Titans, draw closer to Eagles in NFC East race
Still, this was a far more promising display than the ones rookie Malik Willis has put up this season. With 232 passing yards, Dobbs nearly eclipsed Willis’ yardage total over the past three weeks.
“It’s a unique situation and it’s a wonderful opportunity that I really embraced and had a lot of fun with,” Dobbs said after the Titans’ 27-13 loss.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported prior to Thursday’s game that Willis would likely take the reins in Week 18 vs. the Jaguars, barring an unreal Dobbs display vs. Dallas. After going 20 for 39 with one touchdown, one interception and one lost fumble, Dobbs’ showing was far from spotless.
“There’s obviously things that I know that I can do better and be better, especially situationally, looking back through the game,” Dobbs said. “We’ll dive into that because I know we have a big one coming up.”
But he also provided a flicker of optimism. And it seems as if that’s giving Titans coach Mike Vrabel a headache ahead of Tennessee’s win-and-you’re-in game vs. the Jaguars in Week 18:
Mike Vrabel said once he decided on Josh Dobbs he would have considered going back to Malik Willis if there were issues. They’ll weigh out the QB position heading to Jaguars next week. #Titans pic.twitter.com/S0OefP7x6R
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) December 30, 2022
“We have to see where we’re at with the quarterback position here going down into the last week of the season,” Vrabel said.
How did Joshua Dobbs play against the Cowboys?
Dobbs’ night started shakily. Tennessee failed to mount much of an attack in its opening two drives. But then he showed a glimpse of what he’s got early in the second quarter, beating Dallas’ defense with an inch-perfect laser to Racey McMath.
Joshua. Dobbs. 👀 pic.twitter.com/R94Gf5huFA
— Tennessee Vols News (@Vols_Report) December 30, 2022
The drive ended with a Dobbs fumble.
Things soon improved. Dobbs found Hassan Haskins with a screen pass, and Haskins proceeded to rumble for a 33-yard gain to set up a Titans field goal.
Julius Chestnut >>>>>> Hassan Haskins
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) December 30, 2022
Dobbs added another 30-plus-yard gain on his next drive, firing a dot to Treylon Burks. Burks tiptoed the sideline and grabbed more yardage to set up another Randy Bullock field goal at the end of the half.
Titans rookie Treylon Burks with a great grab before showing some absurd contact balance to stay in bounds and pickup another 20 yards.
The first-round pick was known for his YAC ability at Arkansas. pic.twitter.com/JZ7kdTw2OE
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) December 30, 2022
Dobbs saved his best for the opening drive of the third quarter. He led Tennessee on a 14 play, 71-yard march that ended with the first touchdown pass of his NFL career.
MORE: Why Josh Dobbs started for Titans on ‘Thursday Night Football’
He made several impressive throws on the drive, namely a 21-yard bullet to Burks. He hit Robert Woods in the numbers for an 8-yard score.
— SportsBattle (@sportsbattleapp) December 30, 2022
The Titans’ offense sputtered after that, with Dobbs struggling to find time and space in the pocket. He tried to do too much in the fourth quarter as he threw an interception that effectively put the game away.
Joshua Dobbs INTERCEPTION & That Should Do It 👀 pic.twitter.com/M1O645XM8X
— NFL Daily (@SportsContent23) December 30, 2022
MORE: Why Titans’ playoff chances rest solely on Week 18 game vs. Jaguars