Last week, the Jets announced that they had signed former Lions quarterback Tim Boyle. Today, we break down Boyle in detail.
The 28-year old Boyle is listed at 6’4” and 234 pounds and was undrafted out of Eastern Kentucky in 2018. He has started three NFL games, losing all three. He has passed for 574 yards and three touchdowns in his career.
Boyles was a three-star recruit out of high school and earned a scholarship at UConn. Originally, the plan was for him to redshirt his rookie year but then he was thrown into the fire and was immediately overwhelmed.
After losing early starts to the likes of Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater, Boyle was benched. He had 310 yards in his second start against Cincinnati but also threw three interceptions. This was the only time he went over 160 in three years at UConn.
In 2014, he started three more times but continued to struggle. His best moment was arguably in 2015 as he came off the bench in the first quarter and led the Huskies to an upset win over Houston. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 110 yards in the game.
At the end of three disappointing seasons, Boyle had completed just 48 percent of his passes with 13 interceptions and just one touchdown pass. He opted to transfer to Eastern Kentucky and sat out the 2016 season.
In his first game with the Colonels in 2017, he passed for 320 yards and two scores in a win over Western Kentucky. In 11 starts, he completed 62 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and led the Ohio Valley Conference with 2,134 yards, albeit at an average of less than 200 per start.
Despite a less than impressive body of work at the collegiate level, Boyle turned heads at Yale’s pro day and earned a roster spot with the Packers as an undrafted free agent. He spent time as the number two and as the number three quarterback over the next three seasons, but threw just four passes in garbage time. He was sacked on his only dropback in 2020.
Boyle signed for the Lions in 2021 but began the year on injured reserve. When he returned, he was quickly called into action for his first NFL start due to a Jared Goff injury but the Lions lost 13-10 to the Browns as Boyle was held to just 77 passing yards and threw two interceptions. The Browns ran out the last eight minutes to secure the win and deny Boyle a chance to be a hero.
At the end of the season, Boyle got two more chances to start due to Goff being placed on Covid-19 reserve. He passed for over 200 yards and a touchdown as his second start against the Falcons was tied in the fourth quarter. The Lions eventually lost 20-16 as Boyle threw a late interception in the red zone.
Boyle’s third start was his most productive as he had 262 yards and two scores, but the Seahawks won in a 51-29 blowout. He also threw three interceptions.
In 2022, Boyle was back with the Lions and spent most of the season on their practice squad. He was poached by the Bears at the end of November. He completed two of eight passes with two interceptions in late season garbage time.
The Jets signed Boyle to a free agent deal last week.
Now let’s take a look at what Boyle brings to the table, divided into categories.
Boyle, who has good size, is not a dynamic player but surprisingly put up excellent workout numbers at Yale’s pro day ahead of the 2018 draft. He ran a sub-4.8 in the 40-yard dash, managed a 35.5-inch vertical jump and posted solid agility numbers.
Boyle has decent arm strength but he’s had limited success throwing downfield at every level. Based on some of his highlights, it’s surprising his numbers on downfield throws are so poor.
Here’s a deep throw that probably never should have been thrown because the receiver never looked like he was going to get behind the defense.
He has shown that he can step into a throw to get zip on shorter passes and fit the ball into tight windows
Boyle’s accuracy has been somewhat inconsistent over the course of his career, especially at UConn where he completed less than 50 percent of his throws.
His timing is generally good and he will often put the ball in a spot where the receiver can make a play on the ball, but he’ll also sometimes fail to hit the receiver in stride or throw behind them.
When he has room to step into a throw, Boyle is capable of delivering a pinpoint throw down the field.
Boyle can sometimes be too hesitant in the pocket, holding the ball too long instead of getting rid of it quickly. He also showed poor awareness on a couple of fumbles.
He will step into the pocket and isn’t afraid to stand in and take a hit, although he will bail out of throws or throw off the back foot at times.
He rushed this throw with the pressure bearing down on him in a clutch situation where the Lions had a chance to win.
Boyle’s footwork usually looks good and he is balanced with a quick release. However, there are times when pressure moves him off his spot and he doesn’t reset his feet before attempting a throw.
He executes play fakes well and can adjust his arm angle to create throwing angles. He is also comfortable executing gadget type plays.
Boyle’s main issue in games where he has struggled has been that he doesn’t show enough patience and won’t take the easy option when it’s available. However, he does show an ability to come off his primary read and find the open man.
Here’s a play where he made a bad read and didn’t anticipate the outside cornerback dropping back.
On this play, Boyle fumbled the snap and made a bad decision to try and force the throw into traffic when he should probably have cut his losses. This may be a by-product of trying to do too much because he’s in a situation where he doesn’t get many opportunities.
From watching his film, a lot of his worst mistakes came not from a bad decision or an inaccurate throw but from not being on the same page with a receiver. Whether that’s something that could improve with more time working with the starters is up for debate.
As noted, Boyle has some good workout numbers, but he has never shown much as a runner and seems pretty slow and not very elusive. In college, he had one rushing touchdown, on a quarterback sneak.
At the NFL level, the Lions in particular ran a lot of read-option with him in the game but he basically handed it to the back every time. He did rush for this first down.
When under pressure, Boyle is capable of stepping up or avoiding one rusher but not someone you’d expect to extend a play and create something out of nothing.
Boyle served as the holder on the placekicking unit for the Huskies in 2015 but otherwise hasn’t played on special teams and wouldn’t be expected to.
Boyle should be at home in Nathaniel Hackett’s system, having seen action in it with the Packers earlier on in his career. The Lions and Bears also ran west coast style offenses.
He will also be reuniting with Allen Lazard, Adam Pankey and Malik Taylor from his time with the Packers. He’ll also expect to reunite with Rodgers and any other ex-Packers he might bring with him.
Boyle missed the start of the 2021 season as he spent time on injured reserve with a broken thumb. In college, he displayed some toughness by staying in the line-up despite taking some big hits.
Boyle’s intangibles are obviously what have him still in the league despite some poor statistical outputs over the years. He’s regarded as a class act, a good locker room presence and intelligent with a good work ethic.
He’s always been someone who will strive to get better and has become more confident since being in the league.
Boyle obviously hasn’t been brought in to play quarterback for the Jets, but he’s someone who can help them install Hackett’s offense during the offseason program and who could be retained on the practice squad to run the scout team or be an emergency back-up.
He perhaps has a bigger future as a coach than as a player, but he could bring something positive to the locker room and is someone the coaching staff is obviously familiar with and feel it will be useful to have him on board.