Ryan Tannehill not going away as potential insurance for Lions behind Jared Goff

If the Lions aren't ready to go with Hendon Hooker if something happened to Jared Goff, Ryan Tannehill isn't going away as an option that makes sense.
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Injuries happen in the NFL, there's no getting around it. But one particular injury for the Detroit Lions this year would take a season with legit Super Bowl aspirations off the rails, as it would with most other teams. Quarterback Jared Goff has been durable throughout his career, but if he goes down the Lions are in big trouble.

The promise general manager Brad Holmes made to prioritize the No. 2 quarterback spot heading into the 2023 offseason yielded the re-signing of Nate Sudfeld and the signing of Teddy Bridgewater right before training camp after he apparently had to be coaxed out of retiring.

This year, with Bridgewater indeed retired, Hendon Hooker has been anointed my most people as Goff's primary backup. Dan Campbell's comments at OTAs last week were not an indictment of Hooker, but it another sense the head coach's words were telling.

"Yeah, really he (Hooker) just needs to take a step up," Campbell said. "We need to feel like, by the end of camp, this guy, he can run this offense. He can be somebody we know that, man, we can play the game a certain way with him. We know he’s gonna be able to process the information, he’s gonna get us in the right play and he’s gonna keep the ship afloat. That’s it. We don’t need him to come in and win a game, you just want to feel like, alright. So, obviously, he’s gonna need to take another step up. The good news, right now, is he’s getting a ton of reps."

Ryan Tannehill still makes sense as insurance behind Jared Goff

Recently, it's been easy for some national outlets to point to the Lions' experience void behind Goff. Even Sudfeld, who was drafted in 2016, has barely played in the regular season. So free agent signal caller Ryan Tannehill has been pointed to as a potential fit multiple times, including recently again by Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine. Ballentine also mentioned the division rival Packers as a fit for Tannehill.

"Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Lions would be handing the offense over to second-year player Hendon Hooker if Jared Goff were to be injured. Hooker spent most of his rookie season rehabbing a torn ACL, so it would make sense for the Lions to bring in a more experienced passer behind Goff."

Tannehill has 151 regular season starts on his resume, and he has started five playoff games (including a conference title game). His level of play has dropped off in recent years, effectively ending his days as a clear-cut starter. That, and approaching his 36th birthday (July 27), explains why he's still available as June looms.

The Lions have regularly tweaked their quarterback depth chart over the course of the summer or late in camp. Tannehill could be that pivot this year, as long as he remains available and if Hooker is not progressing as hoped.

Much to the chagrin of those who have anointed Hooker, sight basically unseen by the public, the Lions can and should keep their options open for who will back up Goff this year. Tannehill is not going away on that front just yet.


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