Sometimes, what’s right is not always popular, and what’s popular is not always right.
With this adage in mind, in the end, expect the Detroit Lions and head coach Jim Caldwell to keep veteran backup Dan Orlovsky as Matthew Stafford’s main replacement option should tragedy strike the quarterback position in 2014.
However, even though that move hasn’t been made official as of yet, the basis behind it might already be looking incorrect.
Thursday night, it was Kellen Moore and not Orlovsky doing all the impressing as the Lions dusted the Buffalo Bills 23-0 in the preseason finale. After looking lost early behind Orlovsky’s leadership, Moore confidently led scoring drives. He fired a touchdown pass to Jeremy Ross to get Detroit in the end zone, and then made a beautiful throw to hit Corey Fuller for a score. All told, Moore was 17/28 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Early on, Orlovsky had his share of low passes, throws not near receivers and all around mistakes. He hung in the pocket too long, not showing escapability and taking what would have been a sack. At times, Orlovsky’s mere presence appeared to be the element making the offense function worse and slow down. It wasn’t a good look for the expected backup.
On the other hand, Moore was confident, showing nice touch and excellent pocket presence. All told, things simply looked more organized with a better flow when he was calling shots under center. Moore has passed the eye test throughout the preseason, while Orlovsky has flunked badly.
Many will discredit Thursday’s game as meaningless, considering starters didn’t see much action if any, but would Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush have made Orlovsky that much better? That’s the question Caldwell and staff should be asking. All the first team starters in the world won’t help an inaccurate arm or suspect pocket presence.
Orlovsky’s likely main advantage in the mind of the staff—experience—looks overrated. All quarterbacks have to start somewhere, and Moore will be entering his third full season in the league. Detroit should keep Moore, try him out as the backup in practice, and let him get time with the first team offense just in case. It’s time for his chance.
If Orlovsky is handed the keys to Detroit’s offense, the team might become significantly worse with him in the game. It’s a backup’s main job to hold the fort and keep things as seamless as possible until the starter can return.
As of August 29, Moore looks to be the quarterback best capable of doing that for the Lions in Stafford’s potential absence, which should be what gives him the leg up and keeps him on the roster through cut season.