Over the years, it has been no secret that no matter how proven your team’s starting quarterback is, you must always have a reliable backup who can win you some games if the starter goes down.
Take, for instance, the Washington Redskins in 2012. In a crucial game against the Baltimore Ravens, Robert Griffin III went down with a knee injury and was taken off the field. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was drafted that same year, came into the game and led the team to victory. He even started the next game against the Cleveland Browns when Griffin was unable to go and won a pivotal game for the Redskins.
For the Detroit Lions, it’s a different story. They have had a history of bad backup quarterbacks, and their most reliable backup quarterback in recent memory, Shaun Hill, recently left the team to sign with his hometown St. Louis Rams on a one-year deal.
This leaves Kellen Moore as the only other quarterback on the Lions’ roster. Moore was more than successful as a college QB, but he is unproven in the NFL, having appeared in zero regular season games and looking shaky when given the chance to play in the preseason.
Speculation has it that the Lions may sign former backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who started seven games for the team during their historical 0-16 season, throwing eight TDs and eight INTs. Orlovsky is mainly remembered around Detroit as the guy who ran out of the back of the end zone against the Minnesota Vikings, resulting in a safety that would eventually end up being the difference in a loss. He played under current head coach Jim Caldwell in 2011 when Caldwell was coaching the Indianapolis Colts. Orlovsky has a measly 2-10 record as a starter in his career.
While it seems Orlovsky is the front-runner for the Lions’ backup spot, there are much better options that they could go for. Josh Freeman, Colt McCoy and Matt Flynn are all still available via free agency, and all would be valuable backup options. Flynn filled in nicely for Aaron Rodgers during his injury last season, helping the Green Bay Packers win the NFC North.
If the Lions choose not to sign a free agent quarterback, they could also look to the draft to groom a young quarterback under Matthew Stafford. Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray are both names that come to mind who will most likely be available in Rounds 3-5 because of the ACL injuries that they suffered last season.
Murray and Mettenberger had successful collegiate careers and could be valuable backups to Stafford if he ever were to go down. Murray was also Stafford’s replacement in college, and was one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in his four years at that level. Both would probably be first or second-round prospects if they hadn’t suffered injuries last season.