Football is not rocket science, except for new Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs, it is

Apr 29, 2017 | by Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Many of the early citations for the popular phrase “It’s not rocket science”’ were written about the game of football. It was and remains a way of saying the game is not that complicated.

In reality, it can be quite complicated, especially for quarterbacks. Playing the position in the NFL requires a certain amount of brainpower, and new Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs is smarter than most.

Dobbs has a degree from the University of Tennessee in aerospace engineering, and someday after his football career is over, really could be a rocket scientist.

Dobbs did internships while at Tennessee with Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer with global service operations. Just read this response from a session Saturday with local reporters he was asked about his time with Pratt & Whitney:

“I was in Florida working on the F-135 engine in the fighter jets,” said Dobbs, who was drafted with the No. 135 overall selection in the fourth round. “This was a couple of months before the aircraft actually went into action, but there was flight testing. It was a really great opportunity to branch out and learn about the aerospace industry and the most technologically advanced engine ever created, to this day. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Dobbs would have hit it off quite well with Ambassador Dan Rooney, former team president and chairman who also had a lifelong interest in flying planes.

Of course, all Steelers fans want to know is if he can throw a spiral 50 yards in the air. It turns out he can do that quite well, too.

Dobbs might not be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, but he does possess many strong traits that impressed the Steelers, including his ability to throw the deep ball.

“You see him make those plays,” quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said. “You see a couple of the highlighted ones late in games when he made game-winning throws. We’re blessed because Ben is one of those deep-ball throwers — that’s unique. He’s really good at it. And I think if you’re asking about one trait that you would love to have when you’re looking at our wide receiver group, you better be able to throw the deep ball.”

At Tennessee, after beating out former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman, Dobbs threw for more than 7,000 yards and 53 touchdown passes in 37 career games. He also set the Tennessee record for most career rushing yards for a quarterback (2,160) and had 12 rushing touchdowns as a senior last season.

Dobbs has drawn comparisons with another former Southeastern Conference quarterback because of his dual-threat abilities. Bucky Brooks of compared him to former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick by Dallas a year ago who led the Cowboys to the NFC’s best record as a rookie.

“I know that statement will be met with a few raised eyebrows and snickers, but skeptics also overlooked the former Mississippi State star when he was available on draft day,” Brooks wrote. “He’s a dynamic playmaker at the position, capable of creating big plays with his arm or legs on the perimeter or inside the pocket.”

Fichtner said it’s a natural comparison because of their similar playing styles.

“I think you get comparisons because you’re talking about guys that can throw for X-amount of touchdowns in the SEC and rush for X-amount of touchdowns in the SEC, and he’s one of those guys,” Fichtner said. “I was at Dak’s workout a year ago and you’re talking about an athletic guy. We’re talking about guys that extend, that create and make plays and Joshua is in that category. He’s capable of doing that.”

If you’re into omens, Dobbs was the No. 135 overall pick, the same as Prescott in 2016.

Dobbs’ arrival likely means the departure of Zach Mettenberger, last year’s third-string quarterback. Dobbs will learn behind Roethlisberger, who has three years remaining on his contract, and backup Landry Jones, who is signed through the 2018 season.

Fichtner said he hit it off with Dobbs right away when he took a top-30 visit to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier this month. In addition to his smarts, Fichtner said it was readily apparent Dobbs is in no hurry to leave football for the world of aerospace engineering.

“One of the things that happen when you get to meet the guy and you spend time throughout this process is you get a chance to feel their love for the game,” Fichtner said. “I think this a very sharp young man who loves football. That is unique. To be as sharp as he is, to be as accomplished as he is, and this is what he chose to do. I am excited about that as we move forward.”