Rewind'10: Shaun Hill among top backups

A week before the regular season began, Brett of Lima, Ohio, requested a ranking of the NFC North's backup quarterbacks. My list went this way:

  1. Shaun Hill (Detroit Lions)

  2. Todd Collins (Chicago Bears)

  3. Matt Flynn (Green Bay Packers)

  4. Tarvaris Jackson (Minnesota Vikings)

Collins didn't help me out much in his one start of the season, throwing four interceptions and completing only six passes in Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers. Otherwise, I feel pretty good about how things went. More than anything else, the 2010 season reaffirmed my belief that the Lions hit a home run when they acquired Hill from the San Francisco 49ers for a seventh-round draft pick.

Hill was forced into action far more often than the Lions had planned for, but as the chart illustrates, his performance compared favorably with other backups who were either pushed or promoted into extended duty. He gamely fought back from two significant injuries, including fractures to his left arm and a finger on his right hand, and his experience in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's system proved valuable.

Even so, perhaps the best part about the Lions' situation is there is no question about who will take the first snap of training camp next summer. (Or next fall, depending on the impending NFL lockout.) Hill performed admirably but knows and understands his role. Matthew Stafford, who finished one of his three starts last season, is the future of the franchise.

It might sound odd, but after the kind of turnover the Lions had at quarterback in 2010, it's rare to have such clarity moving forward. It's a testament to Hill and a byproduct of the Lions' choice last March.