Why is David Blough Starting For the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving?

The late afternoon game between the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Thursday pits two young quarterbacks against one another in Josh Allen and Dak Prescott. The evening game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons features two of the NFL’s best veterans in Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. The early game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions? Mitchell Trubisky vs. David Blough; not exactly a marquee matchup at the quarterback position.

The struggles of Mitchell Trubisky this season are well documented. But not many people have even heard of David Blough, the undrafted rookie who will be making his NFL debut under center for the Lions today. Here’s a look at how we got to this point

Injuries have thrust David Blough into the starting role

Matthew Stafford is one of the league’s most durable quarterbacks. The Lions’ franchise quarterback had started in 136 consecutive games before being ruled out for Detroit’s Week 10 matchup against the Chicago Bears with hip and back injuries. This was Stafford’s first missed start since 2010, and with the Lions entering Thursday with a 3-7-1 record, the team isn’t in a hurry to rush the 31-year-old back into action.

Stafford’s primary backup, Jeff Driskel, has started each of Detroit’s last three games with mixed results. The Lions are 0-3 in his three starts, with Driskel recording 685 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Driskel has been sidelined in practice this week with an injured hamstring. While he will remain on the active roster as the team’s backup on Thanksgiving, the 26-year-old is not healthy enough to start the game. This sequence of events leads to third-stringer David Blough getting the start.

David Blough’s path to the NFL

David Blough warming up ahead of his first career start on Thanksgiving Day
David Blough warming up ahead of his first career start on Thanksgiving Day | Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

David Blough was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. Blough committed to the University of Purdue, and after redshirting his first season with the program in 2014, he took over the starting job for the Boilermakers in 2015 as a redshirt freshman.

Blough had a fairly underwhelming run as the team’s starting quarterback from 2015 through 2017, even losing the starting job to his backup in 2017. When he was benched, David Blough had a 7-18 record as a starter with 6,029 passing yards, 44 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions.

David Blough returned to the starting role in 2018 and had the best season of his college career. Blough led the Boilermakers to a 6-5 record in his 11 starts and had 3,521 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions.

After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, Blough was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns. He was later traded to the Detroit Lions in a swap of conditional draft picks. He has been on the Lions’ roster as a backup until now.

A tough first start

At least one fan in Detroit will be sporting a David Blough jersey on Thursday
At least one fan in Detroit will be sporting a David Blough jersey on Thursday | Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They rank fourth in the league in both total yards against with 315.6 per game and in scoring defense allowing only 17.1 points per game.

This isn’t exactly the ideal opponent to be making a first NFL start against. But despite the odds being stacked against him, David Blough will etch his name into the league’s history books on Thursday as he makes the first start of his career on Thanksgiving Day for the Detroit Lions.