Detroit Lions re-haunted by one of Matt Millen's mistakes at quarterback


Every time I think we could maybe go a week without rehashing the nightmare days of Matt Millen’s tenure in Detroit, something brings those painful memories back. The most recent addition to the Detroit Lions roster left me speechless, hurt and in denial; had Millen possessed the soul of general manager Martin Mayhew and brought one of his classic mistakes back while laughing maniacally? It’s like he snuck into the office to drive one more stake into the hearts of Lions fans before riding off into the sunset.

The Lions went 0-16 in 2008. No team had done that before in the NFL and no team has done it since either. It is very likely that Detroit will hold this dubious honor forever because some time in the next few years, as much as the players union fights it, there will eventually be an 18 game schedule. Millen was the architect of that 2008 team, the worst team in NFL history. The Lions did have a shot at one game that season. Whether it was that they played well enough to compete or that the Minnesota Vikings played down to their competition, the Lions had a chance during week six. The odd score of 12-0 instantly brings the fateful play to mind, a fourth quarter safety that was officially recorded as a sack for Lions nemesis Jared Allen, but in reality quarterback Dan Orlovsky, in his first NFL start, ran out of the back of the end zone. It was the bottom falling out of one of the worst seasons and honestly one of the worst professional sports franchises ever.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome back to your Detroit Lions the one and only Dan Orlovsky. I’ll pause a moment for you to spit out your coffee, I did.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Yet, here we are reliving the Lions worst days, and while maybe not their worst quarterback in franchise history (though for a lot of other teams he might be), Orlovsky is the symbol of one of their most moments. I can’t understand, justify or even stomach this move.

Mayhew and coach Jim Caldwell are both familiar with Orlovsky as he was the backup quarterback in Indianapolis during Caldwell’s worst and last season as the Colts coach. Why would these guys choose to relive their worst moments and hope for a different result?

Losing backup quarterback Shaun Hill was something the Lions anticipated going into this offseason. Hill is regarded as a steady backup that can be counted on to perform in a time of need throughout the league and Mayhew knew he likely would not be able to retain him. Just because they are familiar with him doesn’t make Orlovsky a good option, in fact that they are familiar with him is exactly why he isn’t.

I couldn’t help but picture Jared Allen smiling when I sat down to write this morning. The thought of Matthew Stafford being injured was cringe worthy before, now it’s down right terrifying. I can’t imagine how bad Kellen Moore must be as their third string quarterback that bringing back a proven failure in Orlovsky is a better option. Drafting a late round project that might be able to steal a game in a time of need seems infinitely more appealing. I’ll probably continue watching a game if Orlovsky walks on the field because as Lions fans, it’s sometimes hard to take our eyes off of a trainwreck, we’re conditioned to it. My sincere hope is that the only way Orlovsky sees any action is in a mop up situation where the Lions had long since put the game into the victory column.

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  • Don

    No confidence in the new coaching staff? Have you reviewed his TD/int ratio? What about his won loss record AS A BACKUP and that is what he is. This is the third poor article in a row that you have written that shows no substance.

  • Jeremy Mackinder

    Thank you for your opinion Don. I actually did check Orlovsky’s stats, his touchdown to interception career totals are 14-12. Combined with his 7 fumbles in 2011 as Caldwell’s quarterback in Indy, I’d say his numbers definitely sway towards the negative side. He inspires no confidence.
    The numbers are easy to look up, but this piece was just my opinion on what a mistake I believe this signing to be. As a lifelong Lions fan and consistent watcher of all their games, the only lasting image that Orlovsky’s name conjures up is that fateful safety.
    Thank you for reading the last three articles and I hope you continue to read my opinions here at and please send me your feedback when you feel the need.

  • George Johnson

    I think Kellen Moore will easily beat out Orlovsky for 2nd string. I also think the management should have brought in some competition for Moore. Where they are screwing up in my opinion is implying Orlovsky will likely be the 2nd string QB and that they don’t have a lot of confidence in Moore. All they needed to say is they were bringing in someone to compete with Moore for 2nd string. Period. Had they done that you would probably would not be writing this article the way you did.

    • Jeremy Mackinder

      You might be right, but, my problem with Orlovsky is that he has already proven what he can’t do, win. When he’s had the opportunity he has failed. So why not try something you’re unsure of instead of something that you’re sure won’t work.

  • Mark

    I’m surprised at people who know almost nothing about football act surprised that Kellen struggled his rookie season. Almost every rookie from the beginning of time has. It’s one thing if you’re a Russell Wilson and you get all the reps and with the 1st teamers. It was reported that Kellen didn’t throw a pass to Megatron in his first year. Look what he did in his second year with almost no reps in the pre-season. He looked near perfect against New England and Buffalo. He has yet to throw a completion to Megatron and everyone acts like they know what he’s capable of? Everyone dismisses his 2nd season success because it was against second team defenses. Isn’t that the same thing when he’s passing to second team receivers, tight ends and running backs? Instead of talking trash about his weak arm (that’s been widely referenced as greatly improved) because that is what you’ve read, go on YouTube and watch him beat Oregon twice, Georgia, TCU and especially the Virginia Tech game with far less talent on his side and decide for yourself. Look and see if you see mental mistakes? Look and see for yourself how many passes didn’t give the receivers a chance? The new coaching staff would be making a huge mistake not to be open minded with Kellen Moore. He holds almost every college QB record or is top 3 in a sport that has been played for over 100 years. Wake up people!!!

    • Jeremy Mackinder

      I have little to no opinion about Kellen Moore, but the coaching staff and management obviously do. I do believe the talent level between a first string quarterback and a third string quarterback in the NFL is not that huge, and experience may be the biggest factor. That being said, the basic skill set that Matthew Stafford has is what draws so much attention to him and when he’s been good, he’s been very, very good. The past three years, Shaun Hill has held a clipboard. If anything besides that happens with whoever ends up being the backup, the Lions season will be a disaster.

    • George Johnson

      Mark: I have followed K Moore as a fan since high school. I call him a master at being a QB probably because of his dad being a football coach and Kellen being immersed into football and being a QB since he was a little kid. He evidently relentlessly studies and practices being a QB all the time from the time he was a little kid. His college coach Peterson said he was the best pocket passer he had ever seen. The current California head coach as a coach at a rival college said he liked to study K Moore on film as he played QB like it was meant to be played. However, he was not even drafted to the dismay of many. I have read everything about this and it is because of his small size, lack of athleticism, and lack of a real strong arm. Many questioned whether he can play in the NFL because you have to be able to make all the throws in order to keep the defensive backs from giving you certain throws and moving up closer on other throws. The former Detroit coaches were evidently very pleased with K Moore and his development. He also looked pretty good last preseason. Linehan said he compensates for his lack of cannon for an arm by his other strengths such as accuracy and anticipation. I also read one article where the writer thought K Moore had proved he can play in the NFL based on his body of work in practice and preseason last year. If he gets a fair chance to compete, I think he will win the 2nd string QB position. The new coaches will gain confidence in him as 2014 practice season progresses. He should be even better in his third year and hopefully has continued to increase his arm strength which is his greatest weakness to be an NFL QB.

  • George Johnson

    Mark: One more thing about K Moore. Even though I think he could be a solid starter in the NFL, especially in an offense built around his strengths, he may never get a chance. He seems to be greatly judged by his small size, lack of athleticism, lack of cannon for an arm and somewhat awkward looking throwing/body motion. Most cannot adequately see his strengths because they can’t get over his weaknesses. He may be one of the best ever at accuracy, anticipation, and decision making. He also minimizes mistakes which you would think NFL coaches would take notice of since so many NFL games are very close scores and one mistake can lose the game for you. I have personally coined him as being a master at QB. He will never get on the field in a season game if no one will let him play because he has no experience in a season game. What’s odd about this is every QB at some point had to be put into a real game with no experience in a real game.

  • Herm Nelson

    As a Boise State fan and therefore a Kellen Moore fan I admit to being biased, but the first NFL quarterback who comes to mind for me as comparable to Moore is….Bart Starr. Or Joe Montana. He is just extremely good at taking whatever a defense gives him, and rarely makes a mistake. The previous staff thought highly enough of him to keep him around and give him two years to develop, and Moore is the type of player who would not let any of that time go to waste. You could see clearly the progress he made last preseason over his rookie year, and I expect he will have made further progress this year. I think he will win the #2 spot, and if the Lions ever need him to step in they will be pleasantly surprised. He is not big enough, he is not fast enough, his arm is not strong enough, all he does is win.