Not being able to score an offensive touchdown and close out a game, in which Arizona held the lead until 11:48 left in the fourth quarter, led to a frustrating cross-country flight for Dobbs, who finished the game 21-of-30 for 132 yards and two lost fumbles. But by 2 p.m. Monday, Dobbs, as has become his standard, had flushed the emotion of the loss and was able to watch the film with a more critical, objective eye. He observed an offense that struggled on third down -- going 4-for-14 -- and to sustain drives.
The process of cleaning up their mistakes, both as an offense and as a quarterback, began Wednesday. Dobbs said a “huge jump” is in store, and he already noticed improvements during the first practice of the week.
“I feel like from where we were last Wednesday, that this Wednesday, it's like night and day just understanding each other, understanding the flow and the rhythm of the offense,” Dobbs said. “It'll just continue to grow as we get more time on task on the field.”
To first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon, improvement looks like a cleaner operation: getting the ball to the right receivers, cutting down on penalties (the offense had five of the team's nine penalties for 122 yards), finding the checkdown and getting the offense lined up correctly.
“I’m excited about seeing what he does this week,” said Gannon, who ended any potential quarterback controversy by naming Dobbs on Monday as his quarterback against the New York Giants this coming Sunday.
The key to doing all of that, Dobbs said, comes down to concentration.
“It's focus, discipline, just little things,” Dobbs said. “And it starts with me at quarterback, but also sharing that with the guys that you never know which play it might be, you never know which third down it might be, you never know what first-and-10 it might be, which run, which pass, which catch.
“So, you have to stay locked in and focused throughout a 70-, 80-play game to maximize each and every play. Every play's extremely valuable and, so, as an offense, we gotta take advantage of each of them.”
Improvement to offensive coordinator Drew Petzing this week will be Dobbs having more familiarity with receivers coming out of breaks, knowing where they’ll be downfield. He also wants the operation of the huddle to be cleaner, crisper and more concise. That means better communication in the huddle, Dobbs said. When he’s relaying a play, the call can get longer, Dobbs said, as he keeps adding options to counter what the defense may show.
“It starts with me making sure that we are being seamless and have very efficient communication,” Dobbs said. “And once that gets started, then we're able to get to the line of scrimmage and get into the right play and play good, fast, efficient football.”
Each day with Dobbs under center has been another step forward for the Cardinals offense. Gannon understands there’ll be weekly improvement but it might not be at a lightning-fast pace.
“We’ll operate a little bit better,” he said.
Dobbs’ comfort with everyone around him “increases a lot” with more time spent with his offensive teammates. Some hiccups were to be expected after Dobbs had just six practices and two weeks to prepare to be Arizona’s Week 1 starter -- a feat that Petzing agreed was remarkable.
“I think anytime there's a limited amount of time on task in any aspect of the game, you're gonna have a little bit of nuance or novelty to … it's not gonna be perfect in a lot of ways,” Petzing said.
There were times Sunday where Dobbs was throwing a specific route to a player for the first time. Dobbs asked what the offense was seeing, took that feedback and made changes when needed.
The changes Arizona has been attempting to make this week are not big, tight end Trey McBride said.
“Just dialed in,” he said. “We should’ve won that game. We made a lot of mistakes. We beat ourselves on offense and I think if we can clean that up on offense, defense keeps playing well, I think we’re gonna be a good team.”
Wide receiver Rondale Moore stood by his locker Wednesday afternoon and, in an even tone, said the Cardinals are in a better position than they think.
“Truthfully, I don't think you're ever as bad as you think you are and you're definitely not as good as you think you are,” he said. “So, obviously with reps and just tons of time on task, I think we, can only continue to go up from here and get better.”