Dan Orlovsky helped put UConn's football program on the map earlier this century. He ended his career with 9,237 passing yards over three years, including 75 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. Orlovsky was eventually selected in the fifth round of the 2005 draft by the Detroit Lions.
He spent most of his first three NFL seasons on the bench, attempting just 17 passes until he was forced into the starting lineup in 2008.
To call those seven games under center an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement. Detroit was in the midst of losing every single game they played that season, and on seven occasions, Orlovsky was their starting quarterback. The lowlight had to be when he ran unprovoked out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Mercifully, the Lions and Orlovsky parted ways after that season and he spent 2009 and 2010 with the Houston Texans where he resumed his role as backup to the backup, which meant that the most excitement he got in a typical week was running the scout team.
Orlovsky was in the Colts training in August, back when Peyton Manning's future was more certain and Kerry Collins would be the interim starter in Manning's absence. The No. 3 QB job came down to Orlovsky and Painter and the organization decided to go with Painter, who had experience in Indy's offense.
By the end of the month, after Collins had landed on injured reserve, the Colts had re-signed Orlovsky and he served as Painter's backup until Week 13. Indy was 0-12 at the time and it was clear that Painter probably didn't give them a legit chance at a single win. For some perspective: the coaches decided that Orlovsky, who had a career 0-7 record, was a better alternative.
And it turns out, he was. He started 0-2 before back-to-back wins over the Titans and Texans. But in Week 17, he returned to his previous form, throwing two interceptions and seeming lost in the pocket.
There are worse fates, of course. Orlovsky got the "never won a game" monkey off his back, and his comeback victory over the Texans in Week 16 was a nice respite from all the losing Colts fans have had to endure this season. But Sunday's loss to Jacksonville guarantees that Indy has the first overall pick in April's draft, which means that Andrew Luck is in their future.
Assuming Luck, Manning or both are back with the Colts in 2012, Orlovsky has shown that he's a capable backup. It's certainly not as glamorous or lucrative as "NFL starter," but if we've learned anything this season it's that you need contingency plans in case your No. 1 QB goes down.