It’s been more than two weeks since Dobbs was traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Cardinals. He packed what he could and hopped on a flight to Arizona, and he’s starting to run out of clothes.
That’s how much of a whirlwind it’s been for the seventh-year quarterback since he was traded on Aug. 24. Life got a bit easier this week for Dobbs, who is competing with rookie Clayton Tune to be the Cardinals’ starting quarterback Sunday against the Washington Commanders (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
Dobbs spent last week getting introduced to, well, everything and everyone.
He had to digest a new, yet somewhat familiar playbook. He had to learn the names of his teammates. He had to figure out how to get around the team's facility. And then he had to find places to eat.
“Now with the week under my belt, a little bit more relaxed and comfortable,” Dobbs said last week. “So, I've been enjoying my time here.”
“Opportunities don't come around often in your career.”
The football aspect of the last two weeks may have been the easiest part of Dobbs’ transition.
His familiarity with the Cardinals’ offense comes from having worked with both Drew Petzing, the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator, and Israel Woolfork, their quarterbacks coach, in Cleveland last season. So he has mostly had learn nuances and tweaks Petzing made throughout the offseason and training camp.
Dobbs’ understanding of what the Cardinals run was evident in his first days with the team.
“You can tell he already knows the offense ...” left tackle D.J. Humphries said. “We're not coaching him up on anything.
“He's telling me what I should [do], so, I think that's the first thing I noticed about him. He's, like, very poised, he's very chill and you could tell he knows this isn't his first time being in this offense, and it shows.”
That’s not an easy task, said wide receiver Marquise Brown, who described the offense as “not the easiest” to learn. But it helps, Dobbs said, being an actual rocket scientist. He majored in aerospace engineering at Tennessee and has done two externships with NASA during his NFL career. He thinks the physics of engineering may not help with the on-field aspect of football but it does with the thought processes behind playing quarterback.
“I figured I was gonna get [the offense] down pretty quick,” Dobbs said. “Just being able to keep a good relationship with Drew and then get here and dive into the playbook, having last week right out there on the field with the guys, but also in the film [room] with the coaches to pore through kind of, ‘Hey, what are the differences from here?’ And in the last playbook I was in with them, ‘How do you guys change stuff? Why are you calling these plays?’
“Having that week helped a lot and now being able to vocalize those nuances and stuff that I know or stuff that changes has changed.”
Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon had a good feeling Dobbs could handle the load last week, but that didn’t take away from it being “very impressive.”
While Dobbs has been soaking up the playbook, he’s also been acclimating himself to a new locker room.
He’s had to learn a lot of names on the fly.
After one of Dobbs’ first practices, offensive lineman Hayden Howerton approached the quarterback to introduce himself.
“I know we worked together today, you took some snaps from me, but my name's Hayden,” Dobbs remembered Howerton saying. “So, there'll be some of that, but we'll have fun with it.”
Dobbs has made it a point to spend time trying to get to know teammates as people. His goal has been one new player a day, whether it’s sitting down and having lunch or breakfast with them, or chopping it up on the field, in the weight room or in the training room.
Dobbs has gone around the locker room dapping players up and getting them ready for practices, Brown said.
“We welcomed him with open arms,” Conner said. “Just being a good teammate for him, that's the most important thing.”
The goal, Dobbs said, is to know everyone’s name by Sunday -- but he also knows he’ll have a cheat sheet on game day: their jerseys.
“Luckily, it’s on everyone’s back plate,” Dobbs said.
Center Hjalte Froholdt, who played with Dobbs in Cleveland last season, called the last couple of weeks a “fairly smooth transition” for Dobbs. Froholdt would know what that looks like. From his experience being in four different locker rooms in five NFL seasons, Froholdt estimates players typically know about 50 percent of players on their new teams.
One of the most important challenges for Dobbs, Froholdt said, was learning how new teammates respond to Dobbs, how they communicate best, how they like to be talked to.
“I think he's come in and done a tremendous job at it,” Froholdt said. “And just being open, being willing to listen, being willing to learn because I think the best thing is whenever you get into a new team, sometimes it's easy to get stuck in your own ways, but you come in and there's a lot of really, really good players in this locker room to learn from, and I think he's willing to do that.”
Dobbs has done this before.
Four days before Christmas last season, he was signed by the Tennessee Titans off the Detroit Lions’ practice squad. He didn’t play that first game with the Titans but in Week 17 -- eight days after he arrived in Nashville -- he was the starting quarterback. Dobbs started two games f
Dobbs has been able to lean on that experience to help him through the last two weeks.
“It's a unique process every time it happens ...” Dobbs said. “We all play professional football. We all spend a lot of time on our craft here in the complex, and what I've learned the most is guys respect guys that are authentic in themselves, and so that's who I am.”