Colts-Jets trade proves the value of tanking

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There’s no evidence that either the Colts or Jets deliberately tried to lose games last year, but there’s plenty of evidence of the value of the Colts having lost more games than the Jets did.

Indianapolis finished the year at 4-12. The Jets ended the season at 5-11. The one-game difference resulted in a three-spot gap at the top of the draft, which resulted in the Jets giving up three second-round picks for the privilege for trading places with the Colts.

Three second-r0und picks to the Colts, for simply being one game worse than the Jets. Would you have even known the Colts’ final record last year without looking it up? (I didn’t.) 3-13, 4-12, 5-11, 6-10, who cares? A non-playoff year is a non-playoff year, and no one hangs a banner after almost qualifying for the postseason. (Well, maybe the Colts would.)

So, again, once it’s clear that a team isn’t going to make it to the playoffs, the smart business move is to lose, lose, and lose some more. It’s also smart to never admit it — and to strenuously object to any suggestion that, for example, a decision to bench a franchise quarterback who won two Super Bowl for an underachieving backup is aimed in whole or in part at losing as many games as possible and, in turn, getting the highest possible spot in all seven rounds of the draft.

For as long as there’s a draft with a final order based solely on how poorly a team did the prior year, there’s an incentive to do as poorly as possible, once the playoffs aren’t a possibility. The added haul that the Colts will receive over the next two years makes that clear, and they got there simply by being 4-12 as opposed to 5-11 or 6-10 or whatever their best record could have been without qualifying for the postseason.

40 responses to “Colts-Jets trade proves the value of tanking

  1. Objection need not be strenuous when unnamed team can demonstrate the firing of unnamed head coach and unnamed general manager for unnamed team right after the benching of unnamed quarterback who won two unnamed Super Bowls…

  2. For as long as there’s a draft with a final order based solely on how poorly a team did the prior year, there’s an incentive to do as poorly as possible, once the playoffs aren’t a possibility
    Then why do NBA teams do it all the time even with a draft lottery?

  3. What if they reversed the order of the teams that don’t make the playoffs? The team that comes closest to getting into the playoffs, but just misses gets the #1 pick and so on.

  4. It would be extremely disrespectful to a team’s season ticket holders and fans to not try to win every game. As a fan, it makes me feel better about my team and the league when my team is eliminated from the playoffs but plays hard and wins anyway. Those are some nice wins, especially when they beat a superior team. Also, players have no incentive to play badly on purpose. Thirdly, it is easy to blow a draft pick at every spot in the draft order. There is so much more that goes into the success of an NFL team than where they pick in the draft. How much have the Patriots or Browns been hurt or helped by their place in the draft order?

  5. How do you convince players and coaches to throw games in exchange for the team’s potentially higher draft slot, and with it, a thorough housecleaning replacing the losing players and coaches?

  6. .
    You’ve got to admire the way that the Colts and Jets battled down the home stretch with each going 2-9.

  7. The system works. The Colts were worse than the Jets and ended up with the more valuable draft position. They can now use that draft position to better their team.

  8. If I recall both teams were screwed by the refs during a few games ( Jets pats best example ). “Tanking” implies the whole organization is in on it and if that’s the case why is the head coach as well as his entire staff usually fired immediately after the season. You’d be a fool to believe guys are gonna deliberately throw games knowing their future salaries are gonna go bye bye

  9. The Colts are clearly tanking. Ridding their roster of all talent while stacking draft picks. Sashi Brown style.

    Andrew Luck deserves better.

  10. The NBA draft lottery is flawed. Since 1985 only six teams with the worst record has been awarded the #1 pick. It opens the door to conspiracy theories. I like that the NFL keeps it simple. If a team tanks to get a better pick good on them. The majority of season ticket holders would prefer to see this especially if it means landing a franchise QB.

  11. How’s “tanking” working out for the Browns? Or for most of their existence the Lions? A winning culture which is not developed by tanking is far more valuable than a higher draft pick.

  12. For whatever value a team might get in tanking, it takes years to rid the locker room of the cancer losing brings..
    Good teams don’t need to tank to win, and then there is the Cleveland example of a culture of losing, no matter how many good picks you have..

  13. Drafting high has its costs too, as the number 1 pick overall automatically get paid more. They are also going to have a more expensive 5th year option.

  14. I think they were just a bad team. What were you watching that makes you think they were trying to throw those games? Roster has been Swiss cheese past their franchise QBs for going on 10 years now.

  15. I’m betting Colts would gladly give up those 3 draft choices for assurance that Luck would be healthy again.

  16. The chronic gaming of the system and tanking over there is appalling. Josh McDaniels probably peeled back a few layers of that onion and decided it was a bad idea to go there. Staying with a winning culture and smart owner doesn’t hurt either.

  17. You can’t compare the NBA to the NFL. They only need 2 Superstars to be a winning team. Have 3 with at least a decent bench and right to the Playoffs. In Football having a great Defense only gets you close. Having a great QB with no one else gets you no where.

  18. No one tanked last year, and it is tiresome to keep hearing about it. First off, players are playing for contracts. Tanking requires bad play. If you play bad, you are not getting a good contract. And since loyalty to players is all but zero, you can’t count on “doing the (wrong) thing” and staying with your club.

    The Colts were just bad. They have been bad for a while, with or without Luck, and their play last year proves that narrative. But teams that tank aren’t competitive. They lost a lot of games by 1-4 points last year, telling me they were trying to win.

    Same with the Jets. They were supposed to go 0-16 if you believe the pundits. They didn’t, and they also had a lot of competitive games – including the Patriots and the Falcons. Doesn’t sound like tanking to me.

    I know conspiracies are popular, but that doesn’t make them right.

  19. I don’t quite understand how the Jets and Colts were tanking at 5-11 and being relatively competitive(my eye test)each week and the 0-16 Browns are not in the conversation about tanking. I think there is some confusion in this article between moving on from underperforming and overpaid veterans to younger,cheaper and more athletic younger players to rebuild your team and a conspiratorial plan to lose as many games as possible for the nefarious purpose of building draft picks. The reason the lose,lose and lose on purpose argument doesn’t hold is that players on the field have to play full out or they will certainly be injured by opponents going full speed. Plus add on the hard facts that players need to play well to keep their jobs and earn a pay raise in free agency while coaches want to keep their jobs and not have to move across the country.

  20. I do think the Colts have a history of deliberately tanking. But not last year, that I think was just more that they stunk.

  21. You keep insisting there’s an incentive for losing games, but for whom? Take a look at the worst teams in the league every year and what happens to the GMS and HCs of those teams.

  22. “There’s no evidence that either the Colts or Jets deliberately tried to lose games last year…”
    Absolutely not. To them it comes naturally… and for a long time. Just ask teripet.

  23. As so many people above point out that there wasn’t any tanking last year, I might point out the story basically says that. The story is a pondering of the benefits of tanking and the suggestion that teams should tank.
    A couple years before the SB year the Falcons were just dreadful. They played the Redskins and won the game on a two point conversion. The smart move would have been to pass the ball to a guy in section 213, as that successful conversion cost them about spots.
    So it is a benefit to the team, a coach and GM far from the hot seat, and a franchise QB with his future ahead of him. But for most other players it is not.

    But McCown wouldn’t want to tank so the Jets could draft Rosen (or any QB). Powell wouldn’t want to tank so they could draft Sony Michel. Each loss brings an earlier draft pick in every round. Each loss makes it easier for the tanking to team to draft each players replacement, and not just at the top of the draft, its just a matter of which 6-7 they target to replace in the draft.
    Also, Each bad play makes it harder for a player to be a top choice in free agency after they are released (after their replacement is drafted). Why’d you give it up and pack it in last season, have you no pride? That would be the question asked as the player visited each team, looking for a new place to play.

    That’s why they don’t tank. It doesn’t benefit the players.

  24. The players are playing as well as they can. The players arent tanking. The problem is that the Colts management is purposely getting sub-par players. They let the good players with high salaries go.

    Remember the movie Major League? Remember what their owner tried to do? Thats the Colts.

  25. This implies the games are foxed for draft picks when the reality would be more in with being fixed for the Vegas lines than draft picks.

  26. Teams don’t tank because it would only reward the new head coach and coaching staff due to the tanking coach would get fired. Hue Jackson is an outlier. It would also kill the free agency for players from the tanking team trying to get a new contract. Tanking wouldn’t make any sense for any parties involved on the team.

  27. Colts are professional tankers. I think the draft should be based on the team’s record on the average of the last 3 years. No coach is going to tank for 3 years for fear of loosing his job.

  28. As far as I’m concerned if you’re in the top 10 of the draft you shouldn’t be able to trade the pick. You were given this welfare pick because you sucked in an effort to try and make you better. It’s like letting people trade food stamps.

    That being said, while I’m on my soapbox they need to change the welfare draft so that if you have the first overall pick you have the last overall second round pick, then the first in the third, last in the forth, first in the fifth, last in the 6th. You shouldn’t get the first pick in every single round of the draft. Same would apply to the last pick of the of the 1st round. You should get the first of the second, last of the third, first in forth, first in 5th, etc.

  29. Hiring the guy who got Andy Reids coffee for a few seasons in Kansas City and promoting him to GM is professional grade tanking for the Colts. It only took Ballard one season to whiff hard on the 2017 draft, then botch the QB situation giving his coach 1 week to teach another teams 3rd stringer his playbook, then botching picking the new head coach.

    Now he gets 2 extra chances this year to pick more second round busts like he did last season.

    Trust the process.

  30. Ha! If the Colts are that good at tanking, blame the patriots giving us a rotten QB to help us tank for Phillip Dorsett, a classic Grigson pick who may have been worse for the pats than the Colts. New England started their tanking in the super bowl loss when tommy handed that fumble away rather than getting hit. How many has he lost now? 3? 4? 5? too many to keep track of…

    P.S. Please delete my anti-Patriots comments like you do all the others I submit. I appreciate the impartiality.

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