ALLEN PARK — There’s a long way to go before next season. But the starting quarterback for the 2009 season should be Daunte Culpepper, not Dan Orlovsky.
Orlovsky, who was named Sunday’s starter against the New Orleans Saints by coach Rod Marinelli on Monday, played OK in the Lions’ 31-21 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday. He was 23-for-34 for 233 yards and one touchdown.
Because of his play, some have gotten on the Orlovsky for mayor, er, starting quarterback, bandwagon. Please.
For sure, the 25-year-old Orlovsky, who will be a free agent after the season, has done more than most expected.
But, unless the team commits to him as its quarterback of the future, Culpepper offers the best chance for some immediate success.
Culpepper, a three-time All-Pro, has a proven track record, winning consistently with the Vikings. He also has a bigger arm than Orlovsky and has shown that he can make magic with a star receiver. In Minnesota, Culpepper and Randy Moss were an unstoppable combination.
And we’ve seen there’s that same potential with Calvin Johnson. Against the Vikings, Culpepper hooked up with Johnson on a 70-yard TD pass.
Potential not enough
Culpepper, just 31, is the finished product, while no one is sure if Orlovsky will ever be that good. When you’re as bad as the Lions and need to get better immediately, you have to take production over potential.
“He’s extremely bright,” Marinelli said of Orlovsky. “He’s got good feet, in terms of movement. He’s got range and height.
“He’s got a nice touch to him in terms of the ball. What gives him an opportunity to be really good is his work habits.”
Another thing you have to like about Orlovsky is that he isn’t afraid to do the obvious. When you have a stud like Johnson, you get him the ball. Orlovsky went into Sunday’s game with that idea and Johnson wound up with nine receptions, 110 yards and a TD.
“It’s pretty plain and simple,” said Orlovsky, who came back after missing five weeks with a broken right thumb. “What do the Texans do? They get the ball to Andre Johnson.
“I had a plan in my head, depending on the play-calling and the defense, working one to two. Calvin was one often.”
If he re-signs with Detroit, Orlovsky believes he’s done enough to at least force the Lions to open the quarterback job in training camp.
“I would think so,” he said about there being an honest competition for the gig. “But there are a lot of things that go on in this league that sometimes don’t make sense.
“That’s not something that I’m focused on.”
Orlovsky’s confidence has grown with his chance to play and show his talents. Coming out of UConn, a basketball school, Orlovsky was basically dismissed as anything other than a third-string clipboard-holder.
“I think I can be really good,” he said. “And I’m confident in that. I’m just going to continue to go out and prepare.”
Culpepper knows pressure
You can bet that if Culpepper gets offseason training to get in shape, has a full training camp and gets enough time to truly learn the offense, he will be better than what we’ve seen.
Plus, the Lions, on the verge of a history-making 0-16 season, have to get respectability back next season. The last thing you want is a young quarterback to go through growing pains when the games matter.
Truthfully, Orlovsky has gotten a chance to play with no pressure. The season has been over since Week 6.
Orlovsky, who had played in just two games in the previous three seasons before this one, said his ability is now in full view.
“I’m a firm believer that you’re either good or not,” he said. “You can do it or you can’t. The play on Sunday speaks for itself.”
But not for next season.
I think Dante Culpepper is an interesting specimen of raw natural talent and at times, he looks like a good quarterback but as someone interested in his team winning I don’t enjoy waiting for the stars to align and the planets to reach the right moon. Also, big plays in between big turnovers. Also hurt a lot. And has bionic legs.
Culpepper’s best years were augmented by a playoff caliber offensive line that created a 1000 yard rusher in whomever happened to be carrying the ball that year. Oh and this guy named Randy Moss. I hear he’s a decent receiver. OH! and that guy… what’s his name? Chris Carter! One of the best possession receivers in the history of the game (and a lil’ dirty lol).
In Orlovsky you have youthful potential at the very least. He looks like a decent passer. He protects possession which is a double edged sword… playing conservative QB will get you low turnovers but it also yields few big plays. Dan looks like he has an excellent rythm with our burgeoning super star Calvin Johnson and I went from “meh cannon fodder” to ‘Hey I like this guy” watching that Indy game. And I liked his internal game plan. Dan asked himself “What do the Texans do? Get the ball to Andre.” And so he got the ball to Calvin. Let the special player make special plays. It will put you in the position to win.
I would sign him for a year or two, and even if he is a place holder for a future draft pick years down the line, fine there are much bigger, nastier, LARGE-BY-HUuuuGE problems that need to be addressed on this team in the coming year. At this point, give me a QB that can cleanly get the ball to Calvin and Kevin without dropping it, goofing it or tossing it to the wrong color jersey. QB is gravy, it’s something (someone really) that becomes successful AFTER you’ve put effective young talent in key positions that will allow to get the close ones, to fight for yardage and make the big stops on D… filling role positions that allow you to stay under the salary cap and WIN GAMES. Like the Pats. Like the Colts. Like THE ATLANTA FALCONS FOR THE LOVE OF PETE. Even if the Lions go winless this year, you could argue that Atlanta’s season last year was not only an unmitigated disaster, it was a public freakshow with the one of the NFL’s highest profile players going to prison and a head coach just walking away in the middle of the season.
31 other teams didn’t feel Culpepper would benefit their efforts, how on Earth could he help the 31st and a half Lions? So Rob, yes Culpepper is the finished product. I don’t feel he protects the ball. I don’t think he puts you in a position to win and he hasn’t thus far. Orlovsky isn’t uber-special or some amazing unrealized talent, but he will give you a low turnover effort which is more important to the team at this point.
Photos shamelessly taken from detnews.com because I don’t have a Press Pass to take my own