If Tim Boyle has to start in place of Jared Goff on Sunday, head coach Dan Campbell has faith the Lions offense can keep rolling.
The Detroit Lions have won two of their last three games, and Jared Goff has legitimately been one of the best-rated quarterbacks in the NFL over the past month. So his placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday was less than ideal, and opened the door for Tim Boyle or David Blough to start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Despite head coach Dan Campbell not quite saying he would start if Goff isn’t cleared to play Sunday, Boyle took practice reps and spoke to the media Wednesday in a routine befitting a starting quarterback.
With Goff out of the lineup due to an oblique injury, Boyle started in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns. He had only recently returned to practice after a preseason thumb injury, and the results weren’t very good in his first NFL start (15-for-23 for 77 yards, two interceptions).
Dan Campbell doesn’t see Lions offense being limited by Tim Boyle
If Boyle has to start Sunday, Campbell sees things going better than they did against Cleveland.
"Here is what kind of fires us up is Tim’s been in it now four weeks,” Campbell said. “He’s been practicing and he was kind of fresh right back from the injury, really a week off the injury (against Cleveland). Now, he’s had another four weeks of being in there and he’s taking most of the scout team reps.… So he’s got his feet back under him,” Campbell said. “He’s got his rhythm back to him. He’s throwing it well. And now, he’s got a game under his belt. I think this will be good and I don’t feel like we’re going to be hindered.”"
If he has to start Sunday, Boyle will be aided by facing a bad Falcons’ defense. Atlanta is 24th against the pass entering Week 16’s action (246.6 yards per game). They have the worst pressure (16.8 percent) and sack (3.1 percent) rates in the league, with the second-worst number of total quarterback hits (54) and bottom-tier numbers in almost every other metric related to pass defense or putting heat on quarterbacks.
The Lions have scored 29 and 30 points in their two recent wins. Boyle would be stepping into a better overall situation than he did in Week 11, leaving aside his own better health and comfort level. But until proven otherwise, his limited resume means he’s a limited quarterback–even if Campbell doesn’t want to say it publicly.