There is no quarterback controversy in Detroit as the Lions will continue to rely on their former first overall pick Matthew Stafford to be their starter and leader of their offense. Stafford was plagued by injuries during his first two seasons, but has not missed a game during the last three years while compiling stats at a record pace.
Shaun Hill had been the backup for years and was considered one of the most reliable reserves in the NFL. After only throwing 16 passes in the role for the Lions over the last three years though, Hill moved on to St Louis to serve as the backup for the Rams. The Lions signed Dan Orlovsky to take his spot. For most Lions fans, Orlovsky only conjures up bad memories as he was part of the infamous 0-16 team of 2008. Orlovsky was 0-7 in his starts that season, including the regrettable game against the Minnesota Vikings that featured the deciding points being scored when Orlovsky stepped out of the back of the endzone. He also was part of the Indianapolis Colts team that lost Jim Caldwell his last head coaching job. After Peyton Manning had his season ending neck surgery, that Colts team had a miserable 2-14 record, but Orlovsky did manage to start the two wins they managed that season. Basically, the Lions had better hope that the offensive line is able to keep Stafford upright and healthy this year or it’s likely to be yet another miserable season in Detroit.
The third string job is a bit more up in the air. The last few seasons the Lions have carried former Boise State star Kellen Moore as their third string quarterback. While Moore looked good enough during the preseason to keep the job each year, neither the former coaching staff nor the current one seemed pleased with his overall arm strength and abilities. The buzz out of the early camp sessions is about undrafted free agent James Franklin out of Missouri. Moore is a straight pocket passer, while Franklin showed himself as a more mobile athlete. Franklin’s 40 time was an undazzling 4.94, but his performance showed his elusive ability in college and the Lions may choose him if only for the ability to use him as a scout team quarterback when they have to prepare for fleet footed opponents. The Lions also have Jonathon Jennings from Saginaw Valley in to compete, but he’s not likely to make waves. Both Franklin and Jennings performed primarily from the shotgun position during college and would have a big learning curve to complete to take the job from Moore, but it appears that Franklin has been impressive and has a very good shot at taking over the position, however irrelevant it is when it comes to actual game time probability.
The cold hard fact is that if Stafford is injured or falters, this Lions team is going nowhere. Stafford has put up the numbers and been healthy enough for the Lions to rely on him this heavily. Now he just has to take them to the playoffs, and win there.