Tanking In The NFL Does Not Exist

by Peter Bobrinskoy

The Chicago Bears are currently 2-8 and one of the worst teams in the NFL. This team has so many injuries that their IR is one of the highest in the league. The Bears are going nowhere this season and every game is tough to watch. This team isn’t getting blown out as much as it would seem but are losing close games where they can not get over the hump.
During this losing season, it seems that there is a somewhat common thinking among Bears fans. A lot of fans want this team to lose in order to get a high draft pick. During the Giants game this past Sunday when the Bears had a 10-point lead, my friend who I was watching the game with thought out loud, “Why are they winning right now? What good is this doing?” His thinking was that if this team isn’t competing for a playoff spot, that fans should want them to lose every single game. Win two games a year and the draft the golden boy quarterback with the #1 pick who is going to change the franchise.
This thinking is wrong. It’s just wrong. Tanking in the NFL does not exist. One player does not change a franchise. The people who think, “If only we had a good quarterback, we would be so much better” do not know the NFL well. Good teams in the NFL do not “just get a good quarterback”. Most teams in the NFL who are at the bottom and draft with top 5 picks more often stay bad than get better. In the NBA it is very different. One player can change a franchise in the NBA because it’s only five people playing. In a game where one has 22 different starters, one player can not.
For a team to be good in the NFL, they must have a stable and competent front office and a great coaching staff. And if they have one of the highest picks in the NFL draft, then it shows that they do not have that. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns have had top 10 draft picks every year for the last decade and they have both been terrible despite those high picks. Having a high draft pick does not turn your NFL team around. A great general manager and head coach do.
Now the rebuttal to his argument is the Indianapolis Colts. The Indianapolis Colts had the Number 1 pick in the 1998 draft and the 2012 draft where they picked Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Those are two great quarterbacks who transformed the Colts franchise. However, look at the most consistent teams in the NFL today. The New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers, and the Seattle Seahawks. None of them drafted at the high end of the draft to become the juggernauts that they are. And all of those teams have franchise quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Ben Rothlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson. People need to understand that if the Bears, or the Jets, or the Jaguars drafted Tom Brady in 2000 or Aaron Rodgers in 2005, those players would have been just another guy. That hypothetically, if Jay Cutler was drafted by the Packers, a stable and efficient franchise, while Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Bears, a terrible drafting franchise that does not do well at developing players, it is completely conceivable that their careers would have switched. It’s possible that Jay Cutler would have gone on to be successful while Aaron Rodgers would have been the bust.
One pick does not make or break a team. Years of good drafting in rounds 1 through 7 do. The New York Jets have had for the most part a top 10 draft pick every year for the past 15 years while their rival the New England Patriots pick at the end of every round. And if one compares the draft history of the Patriots to the Jets for the last 15 years, the Patriots blow the Jets out of the water despite drafting later. Good front offices and good coaching staffs are what leads successful NFL teams. Not high draft picks.