Over the last four seasons the Detroit Lions were a bit spoiled by the fact that Shaun Hill was as steady as they come as a backup quarterback.
Hill was 10-6 as a starter before signing on to be
Over that span, he was widely considered one of the best backups in the NFL because of his experience and steady demeanor.
Hill is no longer a Lion, however, deciding to sign with the St. Louis Rams in free agency this offseason.
Dan Orlovsky, who made his NFL debut the same year as Hill in 2005, has replaced him. Orlovsky has a similar calming demeanor as Hill and a quiet confidence about his abilities.
It’s Orlovsky’s second stint with the Lions though, and some people are having a hard time getting past 2008.
On the 2008 Lions, Orlovsky started seven games for a team that made history by posting the only 0-16 record in NFL history.
In a loss to Minnesota, Orlovsky inadvertently ran out of the back of the end zone to avoid the pass rush, giving the Vikings a safety and two points that proved to be the difference in a 12-10 loss.
“A bonehead play,” Orlovsky told detroitlions.com this offseason reflecting back on the play.
Orlovsky learned from that experience in 2008 and went on to have backup roles with the Texans (2009-10), Colts (2011) and Buccaneers (2012-13), all stops that contributed to his learning process along the way.
In 2011, the Colts got off to a 0-13 start but won two games late in the season with Orlovsky as a starter.
They’re the only two wins of Orlovsky’s career as a starter. Those wins, coupled with his familiarity with Jim Caldwell, who was the Colts’ head coach in 2011, is why he signed a one-year deal with Detroit.
“I don’t think you can underestimate the value of it,” Orlovsky said of knowing his role and doing whatever he can to help. “There is an enormous value in being a good teammate. It’s important for me to understand my role.
“I talk to the younger guys. I talk to the defense and offer them a nugget here and there. Over 16 games, if one or two players can make a play here and there, that’s the difference between going on and going home.”
The Lions hope that’s the impact Orlovsky has in 2014. They’d like nothing more than for Stafford to have his fourth consecutive season of starting all 16 regular-season games and for Orlovsky to have his biggest impact behind the scenes.
But if Orlovsky’s name is called upon this season, Lions fans should expect to see a different quarterback than the one they witnessed in 2008. Experience does wonders for the quarterback position, and Orlovsky has now proven he can win in this league.