Joshua Dobbs already solidifying case for extended Arizona Cardinals tenure

Oct 5, 2023, 1:04 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2023, 3:58 pm

Joshua Dobbs in Week 3...

Joshua Dobbs #9 of the Arizona Cardinals directs his team during the first half in the game against the Dallas Cowboys at State Farm Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Despite being held scoreless in a season-opening loss to the Washington Commanders, the Arizona Cardinals offense has seen steady growth on a weekly basis.

And with it, so has quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

The signal caller, who hadn’t taken a training camp or preseason snap for the team before getting the starting nod, continues to reach new heights in the offense.

Taking out Week 1’s showing, Dobbs has completed nearly 71% of his passes for 682 yards and four touchdowns to zero interceptions. He chipped in another 144 yards and a score behind 21 carries.

But for all the good the current Cardinals starter has and should continue to put on tape in 2023, the return of quarterback Kyler Murray — whenever that might be — will mean an eventual backseat for the seven-year vet.

“I’m not looking ahead at all,” Dobbs said in Week 4. “I’ve learned staying focused in the moment and maximizing the moment, you enjoy your day a little bit more, you enjoy the little things of the day. For me, I just stay locked in on the moment, trust my preparation.

“I know things can play out however they’re going to play out down the road. Some things I can control and some things I can’t. The things I can control I will and those I can’t, I won’t. I won’t lose sleep over them and I’ll keep playing good football and keep moving forward.”

That doesn’t mean his time in the desert will be over, though, with Dobbs already cementing himself as someone on and off the field Arizona should want to keep around beyond 2023.

Some reasoning behind that thinking in addition to a closer look into his body of work as a Cardinal four games into 2023:

Just feels right

The Cardinals organization led by general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon is built on the foundation of high football character and a team-over-me mentality.

Dobbs may still be unpacking his space gear and other essentials having been traded to the desert in late August, but it’s clear he carries the kind of makeup the Cardinals want across the board.

“Nothing surprises me about his improvement over the last few weeks and the success he’s been able to accumulate for himself because he operates at an extremely high level in all areas of his life in terms of his punctuality, he’s very articulate, he’s one of the first guys in, one of the last guys to leave, he’s disciplined,” rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson said last week.

“If you give him 100 things to do to get better, he’s taking advantage of all 100 and probably asking for more. … I love playing for a quarterback that’s accountable and he’s very emotionally mature and that’s great to play for a leader of the team when they’re able to be accountable and not always point the finger at somebody else.”

That early connection and trust Wilson has in his QB is already paying off, too.

Through four games, Dobbs has completed 14 of his 16 passes to Wilson for 237 yards and four touchdowns. The QB has a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

And Dobbs’ familiarity with offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork cannot be understated.

They were confident Dobbs could add to the culture from their time together in Cleveland. So far, the signal caller hit that mark and then some.

Accuracy where it counts

Among the bright spots of Dobbs’ game as a Cardinal has been his work in the red zone.

The signal caller has completed 70.6% of his passes for 62 yards and all four of his touchdowns for a 115.7 quarterback rating. Of the quarterbacks with at least 10 pass attempts in the red zone, Dobbs ranks second in completion percentage behind only Lamar Jackson (83.3%).

He’s also ran the rock twice for seven yards and another score.

But with Arizona posting a 6-10 mark in red zone trips that includes some missed opportunities for pay dirt, Dobbs knows there’s still work to be done amid the recent success.

“We put a lot of focus on that,” Dobbs said Wednesday. “As I say every week, games come down to touchdowns in the red zone. … I take pride in it, As an offense we take pride in when we get down there wanting to score and when we’re throwing it, 1) protecting the football but also the window’s a little smaller, everything happens a little faster down there.

“The receivers have done a great job at being where they’re supposed to be on time and that helps as well to being efficient in the red zone, scoring touchdowns down there and being accurate in the red zone. … We’ll continue to build on that.”

Good on the ground

A lot of the talk this past offseason centered around who would be the No. 2 rushing option behind starter James Conner.

Of Keaontay Ingram, Corey Clement, Emari Demercado and Marlon Mack (until he went down with a torn Achilles), one was bound to separate themselves from the pack.

Or so we thought.

Four games into 2023 and Dobbs is second on the team in carries (24), rushing yards (141), first downs (11) and touchdowns (one) when he tucks and runs. His legs have also allowed him to extend passing plays.

“It’s been good. I like to do it obviously when the defense gives me those right looks and everything,” Dobbs said. “It keeps the defense on its heels, it’s a part of my skillset and something I’ve been good at since high school. … We’re not running (quarterback counter) until the cows come home but we’re able to be a triple threat back there.

As for collective of backup running backs, Ingram paces the group with 12 carries for 15 yards. Demercado is next in line with four rushes for three yards and Clement hasn’t logged a carry in 2023.

Not only is Dobbs finding success on the ground, he’s also giving offensive coordinator Drew Petzing valuable information on what works and what doesn’t.

That could go a long way in not only continuing to push the offensive envelope with Dobbs under center, but also when it comes to dropping franchise QB Kyler Murray back into the mix upon his return from a torn ACL suffered last year.

“Josh can make plays with his legs in the passing game and in the run game,” Gannon said Monday. “We know Kyler can do those things. … You’ve got to be aware of their skill sets and how they like to use certain guys. That’s a challenge offensively, defensively and on special teams every week, and that kind of changes every week.

“I think the added element of Josh being able to make plays with his legs, typically in the quarterback run game (defenses are) one short. … That’s been a huge bonus for us.”

The price

Ossenfort seems like someone who understands the importance of draft capital and how to use it.

Take a look at the way he maneuvered the 2023 NFL Draft and the stockpile he has built up next year if you need a reminder.

So why on earth would he burn a future fifth-round pick for a potential less-than-a-year rental of Dobbs?

The QB is an easy re-signing prospect next offseason for Ossenfort to consider.

That is if Dobbs doesn’t find a better opportunity elsewhere, though he did say Wednesday he found “a more permanent” housing situation in the desert.

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