Detroit fans remember Dan Orlovsky very well. Unfortunately for Orlovsky, it is not for the reasons in which he wishes. He was drafted in 2005 by Detroit in the fifth round. He was expected to be a development quarterback for the team and was not expected to be rushed into action. Coming out of Connecticut, Orlovsky played very little in 2005, mostly gaining game experience in meaningless time. He played more frequently though in 2008, playing in ten games that season. Detroit Lions fans remember that season all too well. That was the NFL’s first 0-16 season in the history of the league. They were marred with terrible play, unthinkable mistakes, and a little bot of bad luck. His stats that season, fifty six percent completion percentage, 1616 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. For a fifth round pick, those statistics are not terrible, but they are not great either. Fans though will forever remember Dan Orlovsky for “the play” in which he ran out of the back of the end zone trying to avoid being sacked by Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen. For Lions fans, that play of complete unawareness summed up their season.
Orlovsky did not see the field for another team again until 2011 when he played for Indianapolis. Unfortunately for Orlovsky, that season did not go well either. The previous year, the colts were a playoff team, and Peyton Manning was expected to be out before the season begun due to neck surgery. The Colts, coached by new Lions coach Jim Caldwell, went to Orlovsky for 8 games after seeing nothing but poor play from every other quarterback on the roster. He played respectably for the Colts, posting sixty three percent completions, twelve hundred yards and six touchdowns to four interceptions. The important statistic though is that he won the Colts only two games that season. The depressing statistic for that season is that they went two and fourteen, and the Colts cleaned house.
Three years later, Orlovsky re-unites with two familiarities to him. He returns to the coach that he played for in his best statistical season. He also returns to the team that drafted him. The big thing is that he returns as the backup quarterback on a one year deal. He fills a hole vacated by Shaun Hill who left for St Lous this offseason. Hill was a great backup for the Lions, and starting quarterback Matthew Stafford noted that Hill brought a calming influence to the quarterbacks meetings and to the locker room. Stafford is hoping that Orlovsky can bring that same calming influence to the team. While it is difficult to see an unsuccessful quarterback bring that kind of influence to a team on the fence, the one thing that Orlovsky has going in his favor is that it cannot be much worse than 0-16, and he has already experienced that.
For Lions fans, they hope Orlovsky does not see the field. That would mean a healthy Matthew Stafford all season. They also hope that if he does see the field, that it is in a successful and competitive effort. Either way, the Lions will have their fifth round pick from 2005 back on the roster for the 2014 season.