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Tennessee football: Titans set up former Vol Josh Dobbs to fail in start

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Six years into his professional career, former Tennessee football quarterback Joshua Dobbs was finally in a meaningful situation Saturday night. He managed to captivate Vol fans and the whole state in the process.

Dobbs earned his second start with the chance to carry the Tennessee Titans to the NFL Playoffs in a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Early on, he looked great, completing 10 of his first 12 passes for a touchdown.

In the process, the Titans took a 13-7 lead into halftime. However, what plagued Dobbs his entire career with Tennessee football plagued him Saturday night too: poor coaching.

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Dobbs is not Ryan Tannehill. With Tannehill and Henry, you can use a lot more play-action under center. When it comes to Dobbs, you need to line him up in shotgun and keep the threat of him running in play.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing did indeed line Dobbs up in shotgun a good bit. However, it was almost never on first down, so every first down play by the Titans was predictable.

Beyond that, he called four first down passes to 24 first down runs, only one of which was a designed run for Dobbs. When the dust settled, Dobbs completed 20 of 29 passes for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

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Meanwhile, he only had five carries. Those carries went for 32 yards. Dobbs should’ve run it at least 15 times to make his game effective, and Downing almost rarely used him.

It was even more important to use Dobbs legs because of the Titans injuries on the offensive line. Basically, that entire unit for the Titans was out, so Dobbs had no protection.

The only way to offset that issue is if you run RPOs with a mobile quarterback to keep defenses honest. Downing didn’t do that, injecting no creativity into the offense. As a result, Jacksonville figured him out in the second half.

Obviously, Dobbs had two bad sequences at the end of the game. He had a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to give Jacksonville the lead. Then he threw it underneath on 4th and long despite Treylon Burks being open over the middle.

However, that fumble was due to poor o-line play, and as was his interception. He had no protection all night in his first meaningful start, and Downing didn’t do what was necessary to make him effective.

This isn’t new. Dobbs did his best to carry Tennessee football in 2016. He had the second most productive season in history for a UT quarterback at the time only to Peyton Manning in 1997.

Poor coaching by Butch Jones, a lack of commitment to strength and conditioning with no strength coach the previous offseason and forcing a defensive coordinator hire on a staff that didn’t mesh cost him. The Vols went 9-4 but should’ve won the East.

Now, Dobbs may have blown his shot as a starter in the NFL. However, it’s not his fault. He was set up to fail by poor coaching and horrendous offensive line play.

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