Dan Orlovsky, the eighth-year quarterback who is in his first season as a reserve for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, already has the faith of the team's coaching staff. Josh Freeman is the Buccaneers' unquestioned starter under center, but backups are pressed into service every week around the NFL, making Orlovsky's position on the depth chart a particularly important one.
"He is a veteran, no doubt, a true pro," said Head Coach Greg Schiano on Monday, three days after Orlovsky went eight-for-eight in his Buccaneer debut. "He prepares like that. He's great for our quarterback room. I would have confidence in him if we had to put him in the game. He's very, very sure of what he's doing, very confident running the show. I'm really glad that we have him here."
In the eyes of the coaching staff, Orlovsky has proved himself on the practice field, in the meeting room, in the everyday moments where a quarterback demonstrates his leadership. However, the former Colt, Texan and Lion knows there is only one place he can truly win the unwavering belief of his fellow players.
"Being the new guy around here, it's important for me to just go do my job, and allow my teammates and coaches to [trust me]," he said. "You can do it all in practice, and you can say it all and be smart in meetings, but until you go out and do it in games, that will be the time when guys, if something did happen, will have trust in you. So that's important for me, but I'm just going to do my job."
He certainly handled his job well in Miami. After Freeman led the Bucs to a touchdown on their opening possession, Orlovsky relieved the starter for Tampa Bay's second drive and did the same thing. Orlovsky eventually played one series into the third quarter and hit on all eight of his throws for 91 yards. His 44-yard completion to Tiquan Underwood put the Bucs at the Miami three-yard line, setting up rookie RB Doug Martin for his first NFL touchdown.
In a way, Orlovsky picked up where he left off at the end of last year, when he started the last five games in Indianapolis and led the Colts to their only two wins of the season. The former UConn star played quite well down the stretch for a struggling Indy team, and that certainly was a factor for Buccaneer scouts when they were looking for a new backup for Freeman this offseason. Since arriving in Tampa, he has discovered that Schiano's offense, which gives the quarterback a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage, matches up well with his recent experience. However, Orlovsky believes those factors are irrelevant in terms of winning over his new teammates.
"Like I said, I'm new here, so it's important for me to gain these guys' trust," he said. "No matter if I've been in the league for one year or eight years, that doesn't matter. Guys want to see you perform in front of their eyes. It's not my goal to go out and shine and be fancy – I'm just going to do my job and gain my teammate's trust."