After Signing Dan Orlovsky, Detroit Lions Should Focus On Developing a Third Quarterback


Nov 3, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) greets Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Dan Orlovsky (6) following a 27-24 overtime victory by Seattle at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Willie Mays’ over-the-shoulder catch in the World Series. Dwight Clark from Joe Montana in the NFC Championship game. Bobby Orr flying in mid-air to score in overtime during the Stanley Cup finals.

For some players, one single play on a highlight reel will define their entire careers forever. Most of the time, this is a good thing for those players.

Detroit Lions’ new (old) backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky knows that feeling, but for the opposite reason. Orlovsky re-signed with the team that drafted him back in 2005 on Wednesday, and also ushered back in one painful, old memory for plenty of Lions’ fans in the process.

Back in 2008, it was Orlovsky who was starting an October game against the Minnesota Vikings for the winless Lions. Detroit was in position to escape the Metrodome, their personal house of horrors, until Orlovsky was rushed, drifted backwards in the end zone, lost track of where he was and cost his team a safety. The Lions went on to lose the game 12-10 and the season 0-16, thus helping the mistake gain infamy in the annals of Detroit sports history.

Thus, when Orlovsky signed a one-year deal on Wednesday, there was a bit of palpable outrage from fans who hadn’t forgotten his gaffe. This time around, Orlovsky’s inclusion shouldn’t be a major concern, given he’s not likely to start much considering the stability of the situation in Detroit. When he’s started in the past—see the chaos of Detroit and Indianapolis in 2008 and 2011 respectfully–it’s been due in large part to horrible quarterbacking calamities on the roster. His addition was likely due to familiarity with the city, Jim Caldwell and his offense.

The signing does prove, however, that it’s probably time for the Lions to look into grooming a more consistent, long term backup for Matthew Stafford. Kellen Moore could be around another year, but hasn’t grabbed the job in the past. Without Shaun Hill, who could bridge the gap effectively, the Lions have nobody who’s won consistently to turn things over to in the event of a catastrophic long-term injury to Stafford, or worse yet, his backup.

In the last three rounds of the draft, SEC talents such as Connor Shaw, Aaron Murray and James Franklin should be available. Detroit could also roll the dice on a developmental quarterback such as Tajh Boyd or Tom Savage in the middle rounds if they so choose. Either way, something should be done during this year’s draft to help Detroit’s backup situation for the future.

Without Hill and with the previously unstable Orlovsky coming back, it’s getting more imperative by the second for the Lions to develop something stable behind Stafford. Otherwise, any future injury the quarterback position sustains could prove completely devastating to the hopes of the team.