First quarter report cards: Arizona Cardinals offense - 2023

The early season has provided clarity on the strengths and weaknesses in the Arizona Cardinals offense.
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages
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Joshua Dobbs
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals / Cooper Neill/GettyImages


Josh Dobbs had a poor Week 5 performance but looking at his entire body of work he has been everything one could reasonably ask for out of a backup quarterback. His game management is like that of a veteran while also being young enough to get outside of the pocket and threaten linebackers with his legs. Dobbs has done a great job limiting mistakes and until this week he threw zero interceptions.

Thus far Josh Dobbs has proven the Arizona Cardinals were right to acquire him and to move on from Colt McCoy, even with many fans initially being critical of the move. He’s given the team stability and has been good enough where the team has been able to establish an offensive identity even with an unsettled quarterback situation.

With Dobbs at the helm, 14.9% of his passes are considered bad throws according to Pro Football Reference. This is a respectable rate and places him as an above average quarterback in this category.

Josh Dobbs has been fine as a game manager, but he does not fill the void at quarterback that Kyler Murray left. The most noticeable deficiency in Josh Dobbs’ game is that he does not generate big plays.

The Arizona Cardinals have the sixth fewest passing yards in the NFL through five weeks and three of those five teams who rank lower than the Cardinals had a bye in Week 4. Dobbs struggles to push the ball down the field with consistency, ranking below average in yards per attempt and completed air yards.

Some of this is by design, since the Arizona Cardinals are not trying to win via Dobbs' arm. Nevertheless, due to the talent level of the NFL it still is a limitation if a team cannot rely on their quarterback to make an explosive play happen every once in a while. This is especially so when a quarterback is equipped with players like Marquise Brown and Michael Wilson who are big plays waiting to happen.    

Against the Bengals Josh Dobbs had his worst week as the starter, and that did a lot to bring expectations down to a more reasonable level. According to The Athletic, his expected points added (EPA) is now just a shade above zero, which means he is only a little bit better than a replacement level quarterback.

Holistic measurements certainly have their limitations, but that feels about right. Although he has done a good job as a game manager, he has to remain consistent if that is what the Arizona Cardinals want him to be. Dobbs is the type of quarterback that really cannot afford to make mistakes, so it is important to monitor if he can return to what he looked like in Weeks 2-4.

  • Grade: C+