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Kellen Moore stakes a claim for the Lions’ backup QB job

kellenmoore AP

Kellen Moore has always seemed like the classic case of a great college player who couldn’t cut it in the NFL: Although he was a two-time All-American at Boise State, he’s small and he doesn’t have a great arm and he isn’t a great athlete, and he went undrafted in 2012. He signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent but has been buried at No. 3 on the depth chart for two years and has never played in a regular-season game.

But Moore has managed to stick around in Detroit, and this preseason he’s making a strong case that he at least deserves to move up to No. 2 on the depth chart. In Thursday night’s preseason finale, Moore completed 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Overall, Moore completed 68.6 percent of his passes in the preseason, never threw an interception and finished with a passer rating of 108.4. Coach Jim Caldwell liked what he saw.

He’s been pretty consistent the entire time,” Caldwell said of Moore. “He has composure, he has moxie, he’s got a good touch on the ball, he’s got a good feel for things and I thought he performed well.”

Moore and another young Lion, receiver Corey Fuller, connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass — and disagreed afterward about who deserved credit for it, with both saying it was the other’s big play.

That’s all on Corey,” Moore said. “Awesome route, a really good job. I threw a crappy ball, and he made a good catch.”

Fuller disagreed: “Kellen needled the ball right through the defense, and all I had to do was get right underneath. I give it all to Kellen.”

All that humility is nice, but what are Moore’s chances of showing that he deserves the Lions’ No. 2 quarterback job? Probably not great. Throughout the offseason, training camp and the preseason, Dan Orlovsky has been ahead of Moore on the depth chart. Moore has been better than Orlovsky in the preseason, but Caldwell has always liked Orlovsky, going back to their time together in Indianapolis, when Orlovsky saved Caldwell from the ignominy of having an 0-16 season on his record by playing well in two-late season victories after the Colts’ other two quarterbacks, Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins, had lost all the games they started.

The question for Moore is probably less whether he can earn the No. 2 job in Detroit than whether he played well enough to force the Lions to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. And it would seem that he did: It would be tough to justify cutting Moore at this point.

And it’s worth revisiting whether Moore may have better pro potential than it appeared when he was at Boise State. Moore went an amazing 50-3 as a college starter, with two of the losses coming by one point and the third coming on a field goal in overtime. At the time, however, Moore was viewed more as the perfect fit for Boise’s offense than a great quarterback in his own right. Boise has steadily declined since Moore’s departure and has lost six of its last 14 games, including a 35-13 beatdown at the hands of Ole Miss last night. Moore’s qualities as a quarterback are demonstrated by Boise’s struggles in his absence. And by his play on the field over the last four weeks, even if it’s only the preseason.

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27 Responses to “Kellen Moore stakes a claim for the Lions’ backup QB job”
  1. blowpackblow says: Aug 29, 2014 9:57 AM

    1. Lions

    2. Packers

    3. Bears

    4. Minnesota

    Book the parade!

  2. zingo1978 says: Aug 29, 2014 9:57 AM

    Criminal if they drop Moore and keep Orlovsky. I get they like having a vet that can help Stafford prep for defenses, but Moore is just a better player.

  3. lionhunter909 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:01 AM

    Practice squad if he’s eligible. Even as a 3rd QB his chances of seeing the field this year are slim to none.
    Like the way he’s developed however

  4. radiofriendly420 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:05 AM

    I gotta give it to the kid.

    Going into the season I didn’t even want Moore in training camp.

    Coming out of the preseason I think he should be the Lion’s #2 QB.

    Dear Martin Mayhew,

    Please don’t bring back the face of the 0-16 season to Detroit. We’ll never forget Dan Orlovsky running out of the back of our own endzone. We forgive him, but we haven’t forgotten it. Please do all of your fans a favor and move on from this guy. Go sign Kyle Orton or Josh Freeman or Jeff George for all we care. We sincerely don’t want that guy on our sidelines. Maybe he’s a good guy and he’s decent at QB. Doesn’t matter – We don’t want him there.

    PS – I’m one of Orlovsky’s biggest defenders and I am still saying this.

    Thank you

    All Lions Fans

  5. The Steelers are Marching and the world cowers. The three rivers were made from your tears and we build boats. We build lots of boats. We walk beside pristine trophy cases and engraved gold. They say it's lonely at the top, but we sure like the view. says: Aug 29, 2014 10:07 AM

    You could argue he should be starting. Maybe they’d be more effective in December.

  6. John Roc 65 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:09 AM

    I’m sold.

    Keep Kellen Moore!

  7. lionzftw says: Aug 29, 2014 10:12 AM

    I didn’t see Moore run out of the back of the end zone once!

  8. darealsmiley4284 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:15 AM

    He’s like Colt Brennan, minus the entitlement, dbag attitude, wet noodle arm, and horrible work ethic. Hope he sticks!

  9. buzzardpointlookout says: Aug 29, 2014 10:15 AM

    1) Boise State has struggled since losing Chris Petersen to Washington. Moore leaving surely had a hand in their decline, but losing a high quality coach like Petersen is huge for a college team.

    2) Kellen Moore, to my knowledge, has never run out the back of the end zone for a safety, so that gives him a leg up on Dan Orlovsky.

    That is all.

  10. johnnycash19 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:20 AM

    Coming out of college, all you heard was that Kellen Moore had a weak arm and was to short to play in the NFL.

    No one wanted to talk about how he always made the right play, never a bad one. I think the game/ series that defines Kellen Moore as a player was the game winning drive against Virginia Tech.

    I would take Kellen Moore as my #2 QB any day of the week.

  11. 90lions81 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:21 AM

    Moore stays but as the # 3 qb.

    Did Chris Greenwood even play??

  12. ahs2 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:27 AM

    As long as we can make pinky promises with all of our regular season opponents to promise to play their 3rd string defense, I’m all in for keeping him on the roster.

    It’s preseason…

  13. timmmah10 says: Aug 29, 2014 10:40 AM

    Greenwood had a pretty brutal penalty, but besides that didn’t do much else.

    Probably on the chopping block…

  14. liongator says: Aug 29, 2014 10:43 AM

    Orlousy has become Captain Checkdown, averaging about 2 yards a completion so Moore’s lack of arm strength isn’t a factor. Orlousy has proven he’s a loser, QB’ing an 0-16 Lions team and 2-14 Colts team. Caldwell admits he brought him in to mentor Stafford…UM, that’s the coaches job, not the backup QB. Make him a coach then, but he’s not a suitable backup QB for any viable NFL team. Or the Lions. Or Browns.

  15. idahonick says: Aug 29, 2014 10:48 AM

    Actually, buzzard…, Boise State has struggled since Moore left, even with Petersen as coach. Petersen hasn’t even coached his first game with UW at this point. Just a detail, but it does tend to support the idea that Moore was a better QB than believed at the time. Coach Pete’s greatest success came with Moore. We’ll have to see how he does at UW before drawing conclusions.

  16. suhcity says: Aug 29, 2014 11:01 AM

    Mayhew- make Moore #2….trade Orlovsky for a redpop and corner square of Buschemi’s

  17. rl7911 says: Aug 29, 2014 11:06 AM

    Moore’s second TD pass was on point. Hopefully the Lions keep him, because if Stafford goes down, he’s really the only option to takeover.

  18. pappageorgio says: Aug 29, 2014 11:19 AM

    Kid makes great decisions……but his lack of arm strength is glaring.

  19. seadawgs72 says: Aug 29, 2014 11:20 AM

    Huge Boise St fan here. I haven’t missed a game since Ryan Dinwiddie was the qb. Kellen Moore may not have the strongest arm but his anticipation about where his receivers are gonna be is impeccable; unmatched in my long years as a football fan. If Chad Pennington could start in this league than so can Moore. The difference is Pennington had horrible luck with injuries but anyone that knows the game of football knows that Pennington could play. He took a 1-15 dolphin team & won their division his first season there. I’m not saying Kellen should take Stafford’s job by a longshot but there are many NFL teams that wish they had a qb like Moore they’re just too stubborn & worried about combine numbers to give the kid a shot.

    Whoever compared him to Colt Brennan is delusional. Boise’s won 2 fiesta bowls. One with Moore, one with Zabransky. Now go back & look at Brennan’s performance against Georgia in their fiesta bowl. What a joke. Kellen Moore had never looked over his head or like he didn’t belong. There is no situation too big for Moore. I guarantee you hens better than E.J Manuel.

  20. purpleguy says: Aug 29, 2014 11:33 AM

    Has Orlovsky changed his name to “Dan I stepped out of the end-zone Orlovsky” yet?

  21. hacksaw44 says: Aug 29, 2014 11:41 AM

    There’s no real debate in my mind.
    Orlovsky only played for Caldwell because Curtis Painter got hurt … that should tell you all you need to know.
    I know that Moore is not the prototypical NFL quarterback but he has proven that he can step in and run the offense ( and score ).
    He’s a smart kid, he’s an efficient passer, a good game manager and most of all a winner.
    Hoping we don’t have to find out but if Stafford did go down I think the Lions would be in better hands with Kellen Moore.

  22. metrocritical says: Aug 29, 2014 12:25 PM

    Simple Analysis: Moore has all the traits one wants in a backup QB except experience. Orlovsky has none of the traits one wants in a backup QB except experience and his experience is not very impressive. If they keep 3, it’s a no brainer. If they keep 2, it’s still a no brainer in favor of Moore. If Moore is cut, another team will grab him. If Orlovsky is cut, he will still be an unsigned FA if the Lions need another QB.

  23. gjdodger2 says: Aug 29, 2014 12:57 PM

    Moore 6’0″ (maybe)

    Orlovsky 6’5″

    Height doesn’t matter if you can move like Wilson or RGIII. Moore can’t.

    I see a great future for Kellen Moore. In the CFL.

    I also see, in coach Caldwell, a guy who has preconceived notions that are not easily dispelled. It doesn’t matter what an objective observer sees. Coach sees what he wants to see.

  24. doe22us says: Aug 29, 2014 1:44 PM

    blowpackblow says:
    Aug 29, 2014 9:57 AM
    1. Lions

    2. Packers

    3. Bears

    4. Minnesota

    I think i laughed a little when i saw that.. Come on now did you actually believe what you just typed?6-2 first 8 games, Rogers out and still couldnt make it. Fact, if Rogers is there all 16, GB takes this division easily.

  25. lionsdraftguy says: Aug 29, 2014 2:33 PM

    Biggest Lions fan in the world right here.

  26. punkyqb says: Aug 29, 2014 2:40 PM

    Didn’t Tebow win the Heisman Trophy in “college”. Look how that turned out.

  27. stevepostrel says: Aug 31, 2014 8:33 PM

    At worst, Moore is the second coming of Ty Detmer, who was a decent journeyman player.

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