Jared Goff will return as Detroit Lions starting QB once healthy

Detroit Free Press

CLEVELAND — The first quarter was kind of a blur, and the end result was definitely not what he had in mind. But Detroit Lions quarterback Tim Boyle said his first career start was “an incredible experience” overall.

“Great learning experiences today,” Boyle said after the Lions’ 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns. “It’s frustrating, but looking back, all you can do now is just reflect on what you did. Watch the film. Be critical and grow. I don’t want to sit here in self-pity and feel bad for myself. What I can do now is recover, learn from my mistakes and be a better player for it.”

Boyle, playing in place of an injured Jared Goff, completed 15 of 23 passes for 77 yards and two interceptions in his first start since his senior season at Eastern Kentucky in 2017.

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He threw one interception in the first quarter on a miscommunication with running back D’Andre Swift, and a second just after halftime when he overthrew Josh Reynolds.

But Lions coach Dan Campbell said he was pleased with how Boyle operated within the confines of a conservative gameplan overall.

The Lions took only a handful of shots downfield — one of which was Boyle’s interception to Reynolds — and Boyle was a modest 7-for-13 passing for 39 yards in the first half.

“He was solid,” Campbell said. “I mean, he ran the offense well. We had no communication errors. He was efficient. Look, he was a little rusty, a couple of those throws. He and Swift weren’t on the same page on that first interception and that’s not all him. That’s both of them. The long pick that he had, that was a hell of a throw. Now, you’d like to just pull it inside just a little bit but he pulled the trigger on it and he gave us a chance and it’s either got to be our ball or nobody’s but you’ve got to throw some of those. And look, I wanted to be smart, too. I didn’t want to throw this kid to the wolves. That’s not fair to him, either. I thought for what we asked him to do, he was solid.”

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Boyle said he felt comfortable in his first appearance since breaking his right thumb in an August preseason game.

He praised Campbell’s play calling, saying, “I don’t feel like he was too reserved or too demanding of me.” And he said he needs to be better for a Lions offense that has failed to score a passing touchdown in five of the past six games.

“At the end of the day, didn’t play well enough to win and that’ll ultimately falls on me,” he said. “A lot of room to grow in that department.”

With Goff battling a strained oblique, Boyle could be in line for a second straight start Thursday when the Lions host the Chicago Bears in their annual Thanksgiving game.

Campbell, though, said Goff will return as starting quarterback once he’s healthy enough to play.

“If he can go, he’s going,” Campbell said.

Hard counts

Boyle drew three defensive offsides penalties with hard counts Sunday, something he attributed to the three seasons he spent as an understudy to Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers.

Rodgers is knowm as one of the best in the NFL at hard counts, and Boyle said he put Rodgers’ teachings to work Sunday.

“I tried to mix it up just to help our tackles out,” he said. “When you have two edge rushers like that, it’s tough. So I knew going into the game I had to switch up my cadence. But I do want to credit Aaron Rodgers for that one. Being around him, truly. I mean, it’s really where I learned my cadence from and understanding voice inflections and understanding what defensive guys are trying to hear. He’s one of the best to do it and I credit that to him. But it was good to see it work in a game and we were able to get a couple free ones.”

Injury update

Right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai suffered a brain injury in Sunday’s first half and did not return. Tommy Kraemer replaced Vaitai and could be in line to start on Thanksgiving against the Chicago Bears.

Slot cornerback A.J. Parker also left Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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