The summer battle between Tim Boyle and David Blough to be the backup quarterback in Detroit did not end well. That’s almost as scary as some of the passes the duo threw in the Lions’ 19-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday afternoon’s preseason finale.
Bough was spirited but underwhelming, showing the ability to make some fun improvised plays but a marked inability to make enough routine throws from the pocket or in the red zone. Still, he was miles better in Pittsburgh than Boyle, who started the game after outscoring Blau in the exhibition win in Indianapolis a week earlier.
After the game, Lions head coach Dan Campbell refrained from saying anything directly about either backup QB – both of whom the Lions re-signed this offseason as free agents.
“Here’s what I would say,” Campbell said when asked about the QB2 battle in Detroit. “It became very clear. I think we got answers. And I would leave it at that.”
He repeated the same basic point a few more times.
“I feel like we have a lot of clarity.”
Watching the game, I also felt clarity on the backup QB position. Neither Boyle nor Blough deserve to be Jared Goff’s backup. Neither showed enough all summer to deserve the right to carry the clipboard and be an injury Jared Goff away from controlling the Lions offense. That has become abundantly clear over the past month, as well as through training camp and three preseason games.
An unorthodox solution that I would strongly suggest GM Brad Holmes and the Lions consider:
Cut them both.
Now, this cannot be done without a clear succession plan. And right now the alternatives aren’t very attractive on their own. But players better than Bough and Boyle will be available by Tuesday at the latest.
It could be a trade for a great wide receiver (Tom Kennedy?) or an offensive lineman (Logan Stenberg?) who will have more value to other teams than to Detroit. Guys like Sam Ehlinger in Indianapolis, Josh Rosen in Cleveland, Kellen Mond in Minnesota, Mike White with the Jets face uphill roster battles to make their respective teams. All are young enough to offer some potential to remain in Detroit beyond 2022. Over Bough or Boyle in that regard, anyway.
Cutting the roster down to 53 players on Tuesday and only having one QB on the roster is unconventional. It’s a dangerous admission by the Lions organization that their backup plan at QB has failed, literally.
But it certainly doesn’t seem any more risky than trusting the team to Bough or Boyle. Not after the summer we’ve seen from both. They were given the best way to prove otherwise, but instead they just confirmed that it’s just not going to work. Keeping Bough – who is indeed the better option of the duo – means a better player at a different position (RB Justin Jackson; Stenberg; rookie CB Chase Lucas?) won’t make the 53-man roster because of it.
It’s a radical approach, different from the odd but ultimately correct choice last year to cut both kickers at the end of the preseason. While any Lions fan can tell you that a kicker is important, finding a passable outside linebacker is much easier than finding a capable backup QB. But the fundamental principle behind that decision is the same, and it’s a well Holmes, Campbell and the Lions will have to dip into once again.
This story originally appeared on Lions Wire