Could new Cardinals QB Josh Dobbs make a case to start in 2023?

Aug 24, 2023, 5:52 PM

Under Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort, the franchise had been focused on adding draft capital when it came to making trades.

For most of Thursday, the Cardinals followed that trend, sending out safety Isaiah Simmons and offensive lineman Josh Jones (and a 2024 seventh-rounder) for draft picks.

That was until Arizona’s third deal of the day, acquiring quarterback Josh Dobbs from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a fifth-round pick. The Cardinals also regained a seventh-rounder in the trade.

To recap: The Cardinals gained a seventh-rounder in the Simmons trade, flipped a seventh-round pick in the Jones move for a fifth-rounder and then used a fifth-round selection to land Dobbs. When the dust settled, the Cardinals walked away with Dobbs and a seventh-rounder from the Browns.

Not only is the change of philosophy odd, but so is the timing. With two and-a-half weeks until the first game of the regular season, could Dobbs actually get the starting nod at some point or another in 2023?

Per Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, Dobbs is likely to command the No. 2 role. With Colt McCoy the expected Week 1 starter in place of the injured Kyler Murray, that would put Dobbs ahead of rookie and training camp standout Clayton Tune in addition to veterans David Blough and Jeff Driskel.

That’s not to say, however, that Dobbs couldn’t make a case to start at some point in 2023. And there is reason to believe that.

A look at three big factors that could help his cause in the desert:

Could newly acquired QB Josh Dobbs start for the Cardinals in 2023?

Fresh Competition

The Cardinals adding Dobbs says something about not only what they think about the QB, but what they feel about the current situation with their incumbent signal callers.

While McCoy has commanded most of the first-team looks, rookie Clayton Tune continues to be a name many believe should get the starting nod come Week 1 based on how the veteran has looked in limited action and what the rookie can bring from a running standpoint.

Tune has definitely been given the chance to make his case, getting extended looks in two preseason showings and even taking some first-team reps as recent as Thursday’s joint practice with the Minnesota Vikings.

Sure, the rookie has flashed at times, but you don’t add another arm to compete in the room this close to cutdown day unless you want to see something more out of the position.


Aside from Arizona’s trend of adding draft capital, there’s another one the team likes to follow in bringing in players familiar with the coaching staff and/or teammates.

Dobbs fits that mold in more ways than one.

Before heading to the desert in 2023, Dobbs served under Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork during their time together with the Cleveland Browns. Petzing served as a QBs coach while Woolfork joined on through the Bill Willis Coaching Fellowship and worked closely with Browns signal callers.

Despite Dobbs never taking a regular season snap for the Browns — he sat third on the depth chart behind Jacoby Brissett and Deshaun Watson — the QB spent seven months under their tutelage.

Arizona’s offense will likely mirror a lot of the offensive philosophies Cleveland incorporates, including a heavy running attack which Dobbs has an idea about.

After his first stint in Cleveland ended in him being waived upon the return of Watson from suspension, he signed on with the Detroit Lions practice squad before finding his way to the Titans and Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort, who worked as Tennessee’s director of player personnel from 2020-22.

And unlike the Browns, Dobbs actually got a look late into the season, completing 58.8% of his passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions. The starts weren’t fruitful in the record book behind a pair of losses, but they still provided an opportunity for Dobbs to put something on the tape.

Ossenfort must not have thought it was that bad of a showing if he was willing to pull the trigger on Dobbs.

Added ability

Lastly, Dobbs brings with him a running ability that McCoy just doesn’t have. And while Tune has shown off his wheels, he’s still getting his feet wet in the NFL world. Dobbs was drafted in 2017.

Now, Dobbs hasn’t really turned on the afterburners at the league level, recording 14 carries for 75 yards for a 5.4-yard average. But peel back the curtain to his college days at Tennessee and it’s clear Dobbs can run the rock.

Originally an Arizona State commit out of high school, Dobbs instead went to Tennessee, where he racked up 2,160 yards and 32 rushing touchdowns.

It was his senior season that was the most eye-opening in terms of his run game, amassing 831 yards and 12 scores on 150 carries. He averaged a career high 5.5 yards per attempt.

And while James Conner is expected to lead the way in terms of carries, rushing yards and touchdowns, Dobbs should get more than a few chances to move the chain with his legs.

Just look at the offense Petzing is coming from in Cleveland, where Watson (six starts) and Brissett (11 starts) combined for 418 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 2022.

At the very least, Dobbs gives the Cardinals another option in the QBs room.

As they say, let the games begin.

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