Skip to content

Titans expected to start Josh Dobbs over Malik Willis at quarterback vs. Cowboys on Thursday night


The Tennessee Titans face the Dallas Cowboys to open Week 17 of the NFL season, so you’ll see a lot of familiar faces. With Ryan Tannehill absent, the general assumption was that rookie quarterback Malik Willis would be the starting pitcher under center for the entire season Tannehill was absent. However, this is not the case on Thursday nights. The club is now expected to start Joshua Dobbs as quarterback against Dallas, he confirmed to CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones.

This is a rather surprising event for many reasons. First, Tennessee pulled Dobbs off the Lions’ practice squad just eight days before him, making him not only his first start with the Titans, but the first start of his career in the NFL. Second, we’ll see what the franchise has in store for the 2022 third round picks, so ideally this would have been a good opportunity to keep Willis in-game rep.

That said, what the club has seen from Willis so far hasn’t exactly been prolific. He has his 1-2 record as a Tennessee starter this season, completing 50.8% of his passes for 276 yards and his three interceptions, especially as a passer. It looks lively. He was the most impactful runner, running for a total of 123 yards with one touchdown.

player headshot

On the other hand, Dobbs entered the NFL in 2017 with the Steelers out of the University of Tennessee as a fourth round draft pick. Since then, he’s flitted around the league as a backup, playing for the Jaguars, Browns, and Lions, before finding his way to Tennessee for his second stint in Pittsburgh.

During his career, Dobbs has completed 10 passes for 45 yards and one interception. The last time he saw a game in action was in 2020, when he completed four of his five passes with the Steelers.

Thursday’s matchup against the Cowboys is of little importance for Tennessee as it relates to their playoff hopes this season. The most realistic way for the Titans to find themselves in the postseason would be to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18, and the Week 17 result doesn’t affect the playoff impact of that contest.So we’ve seen head coach Mike Vrabel go into save mode in relation to this matchup, ruling out Tannehill, Jeffrey Simmons, and other key contributions. But star running back Derrick Henry Also not expected to play.