Because I know it will be discussed at length when Kellen Moore is or is not still on the Detroit Lions by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, I figured I may as well address the pseudo-deity in the room. Moore finished his preseason with another impressive performance on Thursday night, throwing for two touchdowns and generally looking capable of running an offense. He still remains a long shot to become the Lions' backup quarterback, but has his play earned him consideration for backing up Matthew Stafford, or, at the very least, a roster spot as the third quarterback?
Let's compare Moore's performance to that of Dan Orlovsky in the preseason. Does the hype around Kellen match the statistics?
Kellen Moore: 35-51, 361 yards, 68.6 completion percentage, 7.08 yards per attempt, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Dan Orlovsky: 36-57, 355 yards, 63.2 completion percentage, 6.23 yards per attempt, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
The numbers aren't wildly different, but Moore clearly had the better performance. You have to take under consideration that Moore was playing against worse competition in each game, but that may be offset by the fact the he was playing with worse teammates.
Perhaps most surprising about this stat line is that Moore threw for more yards per attempt. The biggest knock on Kellen is his "noodle arm," yet he averaged more yards per pass than Orlovsky. Moore looked pretty comfortable throwing downfield, connecting on deep touchdown passes of 25 and 21 yards. Those passes were missing a fair amount of velocity, but they reached their target and were fairly accurate.
But these statistics only tell part of the story. Success as a quarterback relies on an ability to command the offense and drive the team down the field. So I collected all of the drive information and averaged out how effective the offense was with each quarterback under center.
The Dan Orlovsky-led offense averaged 5.3 plays per drive, 22.8 yards and 0.94 points.
The Kellen Moore-led offense averaged 6.3 plays per drive, 30.3 yards and 1.88 points. Again, Moore came out the slight, but clear victor.
Where I thought Moore thrived the most was when he was under duress. Moore displayed a good ability to escape pressure and throw on the run.
Overall, it is undeniable that Moore had the better preseason performance. However, we must be weary of the sample size. We have essentially 1.5 games worth of data to work with here, and it was against backup players, no less. That is hardly enough to truly evaluate a player. The coaches have much more data to work with, having seen these players day in and day out for the past month.
So while it may seem cut-and-dry that Moore is the better quarterback, I remain skeptical. The statistics are clearly in his favor, but I don't think they're overwhelmingly so. And preseason games are only part of the evaluation. We cannot know who outplayed who in training camp, but based on how the quarterbacks were played in the preseason, it is pretty obvious that the Lions like Orlovsky better.
That being said, Moore has done everything he possibly could to make the Lions reconsider, and they absolutely should think hard about this. Moore has certainly made me reevaluate my opinion on him. But if (or when) Moore fails to make the final 53-man roster, I won't be surprised. The two are very close in talent. In the end, I think Moore's weak arm and Orlovsky's familiarity with Jim Caldwell will be the deciding factors in choosing the Lions' backup quarterback.
One option for Moore is to put him on the practice squad. With this year's new rules, Moore is eligible for the practice squad. However, he would have to clear waivers first. Given his impressive performance this month, he may get snatched up by another team. However, NFL teams tend to be reluctant to sign weaker-armed quarterbacks, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Moore on the Lions' practice squad this season.