|Dates: 7 September 2023 – 7 January 2024|
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If studying an NFL playbook is like rocket science, then it’s simply as effectively Joshua Dobbs has a level in aerospace engineering.
Over an eventful 12 months, the journeyman quarterback has needed to swot up on offensive performs for 5 completely different groups.
Throughout that point, he has made his first NFL begin on the age of 27 and performed for 2 completely different groups on consecutive Sundays.
That whirlwind week culminated in Dobbs, 28, coming off the bench to lead the Minnesota Vikings to a last-gasp victory.
Now the aerospace engineer has the prospect to lastly set up himself as an NFL participant and defy those that mentioned “you may’t do each”.
‘Maximising my time on and off the sector’
Dobbs began enjoying soccer when he was 5 and has been fascinated by aviation and area simply as lengthy, so when he went to the College of Tennessee in 2013 he selected to check aerospace engineering, with a minor in enterprise.
Regardless of being advised beginning quarterbacks seldom research majors that demanding, Dobbs managed to earn an ideal 4.0 grade-point common whereas setting a number of data on the soccer workforce. He additionally made time for an internship with an aerospace producer.
Dobbs entered the NFL draft in 2017 and was chosen with the one hundred and thirty fifth decide, however in his first 5 years within the league, he got here on briefly in simply 5 video games for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Keen to not let his research go to waste, Dobbs hung out with the US Air Drive, even flying a fighter jet. He additionally joined an externship programme run by the NFL Gamers Affiliation (NFLPA), working with Nasa on the Kennedy Area Middle and Glenn Analysis Middle.
“I have been deliberate,” Dobbs told the NFLPA. “I am maximizing my time on the sector and within the weight room. Then off the sector, I am maximizing my time to get pleasure from these different pursuits whereas additionally establishing alternatives to construct myself as greater than an athlete.”
For Dobbs, these pursuits embrace a grant-making basis he established final 12 months and a clothes line he began to “encourage folks like me”, who attempt to attain feats “past what others assume is feasible”.
Life as a journeyman quarterback
This time final 12 months, Dobbs was a back-up with the Cleveland Browns and a nomadic 12 months started when he was launched on Deshaun Watson’s return from suspension.
He then hung out on the Detroit Lions observe squad earlier than becoming a member of the Tennessee Titans, beginning their final two video games of the 2022 season, and Cleveland re-signed him in March.
Dobbs desires to realize a pilot’s licence, and just some days after taking his first coaching flight in Cleveland in August, he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, who wanted cowl whereas Kyler Murray accomplished his restoration from a knee harm.
Dobbs earned the starter’s job – for the primary time in his profession he was given a run of NFL video games. Days earlier than the Cardinals’ defeat by Baltimore, his furnishings lastly arrived in Arizona. Two days after the sport he was traded to Minnesota.
Murray was set to return for the Cardinals and the Vikings had misplaced Kirk Cousins to a season-ending harm. Though Arizona had a 1-7 file with Dobbs, he had impressed.
He met his new team-mates and employees on the Wednesday earlier than Minnesota performed the Atlanta Falcons, however with rookie Jaren Corridor making ready to start out that Sunday, Dobbs didn’t take a single rep in observe. But Corridor suffered a concussion within the recreation and Dobbs was thrust into the motion within the second quarter.
‘The Passtronaut’ lands in Minnesota
Understandably, Dobbs made a shaky begin. He nonetheless didn’t know most of his team-mates’ full names. However they and the teaching employees helped him bounce again with a surprising efficiency.
Dobbs later described the sport as “study as you go, hair on hearth, maintain on to your seat”. He completed with two landing passes and a speeding landing, turning into the primary participant in NFL historical past to mix for 3 passing and speeding touchdowns in consecutive weeks with completely different groups.
Atlanta snatched the lead with two minutes left, however Dobbs responded by turning into the primary participant in Vikings historical past to guide a game-winning drive on their debut. They gained 31-28, he turned a right away followers’ favorite and earned a brand new nickname – ‘the Passtronaut’.
He led them to one other win final Sunday – 27-19 towards the New Orleans Saints – and Dobbs feels his research have helped.
“We’re not on the market doing engineering equations on the sector, however I needed to cram for lots of engineering checks and procrastinated a bit of bit in school,” he mentioned.
“That is similar to that. Having to course of loads of info undoubtedly ready me for conditions like this.”
Former Vikings receiver Jake Reed advised BBC Sport: “The teaching employees did not throw the entire playbook at him, they only used performs that he is snug with. Now they’ll develop the playbook.”
‘Only a ball participant having enjoyable’
Dobbs’ sudden success in Minnesota has warmed the hearts of NFL followers, not simply due to his backstory however as a result of “he simply seems to be like a ball participant having enjoyable”, says Reed.
“He is enjoying with no stress, with nothing to lose – simply get in there, be your self and make performs,” he added.
“I am fairly certain they advised him that if [a pass] shouldn’t be there then take off and run, simply do not flip the ball over. He is completed an awesome job of utilizing his legs, and that is introduced a complete new dimension to our offence.
“Quarterbacks need to be good, and it may be tough if the blokes do not rally spherical you. However the Vikings need to win and so they’ve obtained some large expertise.”
Minnesota had a 1-4 file when star receiver Justin Jefferson sustained a hamstring harm, but they’ve gained all 5 video games since, regardless of shedding their franchise quarterback too.
“They’re successful with out their predominant man so that they’re assured. Think about what they’ll really feel when Justin Jefferson comes again,” Reed mentioned.
“It is all the time nice to get sizzling later within the season – you can also make a push for the play-offs and roll into the post-season. I see nice issues for the Vikings happening the stretch.”