Bill Polian presided over the worst team in the NFL as the G.M. of the Colts in 2011. That didn’t work out well for him, as he got fired at the end of the season. But it worked out well for the Colts, as it got them Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 draft. And Polian thinks some teams may actively try to be the worst team in the league, if it means drafting another franchise player.
Polian said on Mike & Mike that the Browns tanked in 2016 and may have started a trend.
“The thing that worries me is that the Browns essentially tanked the season last year and no one said — except a few of us — said anything about it. And it may well be that this is something that can spread around the league, and I don’t think that’s good for the sport in the long run. Because in the end it robs the customers of the chance to see a competitive team,” Polian said.
Polian wasn’t saying the Browns’ players were playing to lose, but he was saying that the Browns’ front office wasn’t playing to win. As evidence, Polian cited the controversy that erupted in September, when the Browns lost kicker Patrick Murray to a knee injury and signed replacement kicker Cody Parkey over Robbie Gould, whom their special teams coach reportedly wanted but who would have cost more money. Parkey promptly missed three field goals in an overtime loss.
“They lost their placekicker to injury. Robbie Gould was out there. They signed a player with no track record at all,” Polian said.
Polian said that in a discussion of whether the Jets are tanking, although he didn’t accuse the Jets of that. Instead, Polian simply said that the Browns did it last year, and more teams may do it in the future, and that won’t be a positive development for the NFL.