Welcome back to our 2021 Detroit Lions roster review series. So far we’ve talked about linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive lineman Charles Harris. Today we’re going to talk about Lions backup quarterback Tim Boyle, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
Expectations heading into 2021
What were the expectations for Tim Boyle coming into 2021? Well, that depends on who you ask. For most, it was not much. For Packers beat writers—who were the only who had seen him up close outside of a few preseason games—the expectation was that something called the Tim Boyle Laser Show was going to run wild all over Detroit. There were some that even thought Boyle would challenge for the starting role from Jared Goff at camp.
Boyle is interesting case of a quarterback having a really bad college career but getting a chance at the next level simply because of his physical tools, specifically having top-tier arm strength. He throws the ball like he’s really mad at it and sometimes he throws it so well that you can’t believe it’s true. So the expectation for Boyle was that he would be a serviceable backup to Jared Goff.
Actual role in 2021
5 games (3 starts): 61-for-94 for 526 yards, 3 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. 64.9 completion percentage and 63.5 rating.
PFF grade: 54.0
It did not go well at any point for Tim Boyle. In the preseason, Boyle showed that rocket arm that he’s known for, but then he also showed that he can’t control it. Boyle’s inaccuracy led to the belief that David Blough would jump him and make the team as the Lions QB2. Then Boyle suffered a thumb injury spent much of the season on the Lions injured reserve. Nobody expected to see Boyle play at all until Jared Goff got COVID-19 and hurt his knee.
In Boyle’s three starts, he struggled early and often, and the Lions offense sputtered because of it. Boyle threw six interceptions in three starts. The worst one of them all was his red zone interception against the Falcons that cost the Lions a chance to win the game.
Boyle’s crowning moment of the season was either his game sealing kneel down against the Packers in Week 18 or his first career touchdown pass.
Outlook for 2022
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
While Boyle was able to hold off David Blough from taking his spot in the lineup, he didn’t do enough to make sure the Lions bring him back in 2022. Right now it seems as though the Lions will be moving on from Boyle and he’ll be looking for a new gig. Perhaps the Packers will have him back. They're going to need someone to back up Jordan Love in 2022.
Then again, we all thought David Blough wouldn’t last, and he spent three years in Detroit. Head coach Dan Campbell did show a lot of support for Boyle while he went through some struggles.
“I’m not discouraged, I’m not,” Campbell said after Boyle’s three-interception performance against the Seahawks. “He knows better than anybody, he’s got to learn from this and he’s got to cut those things out. But there is some stuff in there that I’m pretty encouraged by.”
And we have to remember that despite the fact that Boyle has been in the NFL since 2019, his opportunities this year were the first of his professional career. It was very much a symbolic rookie year for Boyle, and he undoubtedly learned a lot this season.
“There is something about this guy, and I think he’s going to get better,” Campbell said. “I think these reps are invaluable for him.”
Perhaps Boyle will get himself another deal with the Lions in 2022. As of now, the Lions have only have Jared Goff and Steven Montez under contract at the quarterback position. I have to tell you, though, I don’t see it happening.
Should the Lions re-sign Tim Boyle?
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