Training camp preview: Quarterbacks

Posted Jul 15, 2014

With training camp rapidly approaching, Tim Twentyman takes a look at where the roster stands position-by-position.

On the roster: Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky, Kellen Moore, James Franklin

Key loss: Shaun Hill

Making the cut: Stafford and Orlovsky

On the bubble: Moore and Franklin

Best competition: Moore vs. Franklin

Training camp practices and the four preseason games will help determine if the Lions plan on keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster or not. Moore or Franklin will have to prove they’re one of the best 53 players on this roster for that to happen.

Kellen MooreQB Kellen Moore (Photo: Gavin Smith)

When it comes to the competition between them, you couldn't ask for two more different quarterbacks.

Moore is the savvy veteran with football smarts and great instincts, which help him overcome some of his physical limitations.

Franklin is athletic and has a strong arm and can create plays outside of the pocket, but he’s not yet a polished passer inside of it.

This should be a good competition throughout camp.

One thing to note here is that Franklin is practice-squad eligible, which could potentially play a factor in the final decision. The Lions could decide to keep Moore and also decide to develop Franklin on the practice squad.

If the Lions are having a tough time getting to 53 and they want to squeeze an extra body at another position, they could keep Stafford and Orlovsky and put Franklin on the practice squad. He would have to clear waivers for that to happen, however.

2013 Stats
Matthew Stafford 16 371 634 58.5 4,650 29 19 23 84.2
Dan Orlovsky 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
+Kellen Moore 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*James Franklin 11 198 319 62.1 2,429 19 6 27 97.5
+inactive all 16 games         *college statistics

Twentyman’s take: The Lions made improvements this offseason to the coaching staff and added talent on both sides of the football, but lets be honest, this team is only going to go as far as Stafford can take them.

Stafford got off to a hot start last season. He had 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a quarterback rating of 94.8 following the 21-19 victory in Chicago that bumped the Lions record to 6-3.

Stafford’s numbers plummeted to 10 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions with a 69.9 rating the last seven games of the year, however, and the Lions lost six of those games to let the NFC North title slip through their grasp. Injuries, weather and drops didn’t do Stafford any favors down the stretch, but he knows he has to be better if the Lions are going to compete with the Packers and Bears – both of whom got better this offseason – in the division.

The team signed receiver Golden Tate in free agency and drafted tight end Eric Ebron, two pieces of the offense Stafford never had – a playmaking No. 2 receiver and a big-play tight end.  

He also gets a fresh start with a new scheme and a new coaching philosophy. Sometimes that’s all a player needs to really take off.

Drew Brees was entering his sixth season in the league when he signed with the Saints as a free agent after five years in San Diego. He found the right coach and the right scheme and went from a good player to being one of the best players in the NFL.

Stafford has already accomplished a lot in this league from a personal standpoint, but the Lions are hoping he can take off the same way Brees did and the personal achievement matches up with team success.

Stafford’s proven he can do it. In 2011, he completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 5,038 yards with 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Lions made the playoffs that year.

The key in 2011 was the touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Lions are going to score points with the weapons they have on offense. They simply need to limit the mistakes.

The team lost a reliable backup in Shaun Hill to free agency, and the jury is still out Orlovsky. Some fans are having a tough time getting past 2008, when Orlovsky had a hand in a 0-16 record with the Lions, but he’s a better quarterback now entering his 10th NFL season than he was then. Experience will do that.

By the numbers:

33: Completions of 25-plus yards for Stafford last year, the sixth most in the league.

47.5: Stafford’s passer rating on attempts of 21-plus yards in the air.

4-2: Lions record last year in games Stafford threw for at least 300 yards.


“You never want to see coaches go, or people you’ve been with five-plus years, Shaun Hill included,” Stafford told “But sometimes change can be a great thing. That’s the mindset I’ve taken into this.”