Heading into their final preseason game of the offseason, the Detroit Lions have a handful of position battles up for grabs, including at the backup quarterback position, where Tim Boyle and David Blough are competing for the role.
All camp Boyle and Blough have rotated reps behind starter Jared Goff, but neither has been able to separate themselves from the other. In Game 1 of the preseason, Boyle was the first off the bench, though Blough looked to be the better of the pair, even with the late game fumble that soured his day a bit. In Game 2, Blough got the start, but another turnover blemished an otherwise decent performance. Meanwhile, Boyle looked to be the better quarterback in that game, orchestrating a late-game, 20-play drive that eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown. Unfortunately, he still displayed inconsistent accuracy earlier in the contest.
“Yeah, I mean I think what we need is we need somebody to really take the reins here,” coach Dan Campbell said on Thursday. “I mean, somebody needs to step up out of the two and I thought they both progressed last week. Now, somebody needs to step up and run this offense, play efficient, play smart, take care of the football, get us the first downs, and when we get down to the red zone score touchdowns for us.”
Heading into the preseason finale, the Lions plan on playing all their starters, except for Goff, indicating a significant opportunity for the reserve quarterbacks.
“Number one we’ve got our first o-line out there,” Campbell talked about the opportunity. “We’ll have our receivers, so they’re going to have – they’re going to have all the bullets at their disposal for the most part. And so, let’s see what they do with that. I think that’s the best way to say it.”
When asked to clarify if just one reserve quarterback would get that opportunity, or if both Boyle and Blough would get a chance to work with the starters, Campbell said it was still being discussed by the coaching staff.
“We’ll talk about that tonight,” Campbell explained. “I would see Boyle starting us out here.”
Each quarterback brings a different set of intangibles to the roster, but it’s still unclear which skills the coaching staff prioritizes. Boyle appears to have better arm talent, but he is far more erratic. Blough lacks arm talent, but he has better accuracy and leadership. There is also an element of what each player does behind closed doors in the locker room and film room, which frankly, we just don’t have access to.
But how the Lions allow the quarterbacks to play against the Steelers could be very telling. If Boyle starts (which has been the expectation all week) and plays every snap with the other offensive starters, then he’s probably the front-runner. Then again, if he is not successful with a better group of talent around him, that could be a massive red flag.
This appears to be a tight competition and one that could truly be decided by their performance this Sunday.