Friday Column: The NFL Should Benefit From Tanking Teams

Cleveland Browns NFL
Cleveland Browns Stadium. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons - Under Creative Commons License.

We’ve seen it so many times, particularly in the NBA. When teams are so bad they rely on the draft more than gaining free agents and because of that, many NBA teams tank in order to get a top draft pick in order to find their future superstars. The Philadelphia 76ers are a prime example. But now we may be seeing a change from tanking in the NBA towards tanking in the NFL, and there are plenty of teams that showcase an example of tanking.

Tanking has been a serious issue that the NBA has taken seriously, and I’ve always believed that teams need to tank in order to get better. In the movie “Sing,” the main character voiced by Matthew McCoughney said that the greatest thing about hitting rock bottom is that there’s only one way to go and that’s up.

For the NFL and its teams, that may fit perfectly into their idea to tank and hit rock bottom and then they can build their team for the future. Even other leagues like the NHL, we’ve seen that model too.

49ers Are Tanking

There are three teams I believe are in tank mode this year but there may be only one team that is admitting to said tanking, and I believe that’s the San Francisco 49ers.

Why? Well, first off, they haven’t won a game yet this year and the two quarterbacks that are manning that team are not long-term solutions for what they need. They really haven’t had a long-term solution at that position since Alex Smith was traded. But why tank for them? Because GM John Lynch has a vision for the future and that future means losing a lot of games, get high draft picks, and build the team from there.

Lynch knows there’s no short-term fix and he believes that getting draft picks, especially high ones, is the only direction for this team to go. Well, that, and Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle said in a tweet that the 49ers sent a questionnaire to fans asking how important it is for the 49ers to win this year?

That gives me another reason to say it’s a tank job. The 49ers are building for the future and not for now, and they’re willing to go 0-16 just to build that future. It worked for the Detroit Lions (to an extent) and it could work for the 49ers.

Giants Are Just Dysfunctional

An earlier Sports Al Dente post was centered around whether it was time for the New York Giants to tank and they brought up interesting points about the offensive and defensive lines, the struggles of quarterback Eli Manning the last few years, and the coaching carousel that might pop up in the offseason, and that’s all fair and such.

The problem is the New York Giants are not what I would call a team that tanks, especially in a big market with big expectations and the last thing you want to do is tell your fans that you’re tanking. The Giants are just a dysfunctional team with many problems and many changes they need to make, particularly at coaching to get this team back up and running again. Their problem is not really the players or building for the future, the problem is getting a competent and accountable coach that’s not Ben McAdoo that can bring out the best in these guys and especially in Manning, who still has some greatness left in them, though we haven’t seen it lately.

Browns Always Tank, But It’s Not Working

The Cleveland Browns have been terrible for years and every year they just seem to tank to try and figure out their future quarterback or running back or whatever. But it’s not working. It hasn’t worked in a long time. They were so close to having a bright future back in 2007 but missed the playoffs and have been in a tailspin ever since with no hope of recovery.

They always tank, but it just doesn’t seem to work out for them. Their draft picks don’t pan out the way they want them to. DeShone Kizer and Myles Garrett are not able to carry this team and their past picks that have had some success didn’t last long. The Browns may just be an embarrassment in this league because no matter what, they don’t seem to find the solutions to their problems and figure out ways to win and please their fans.

Tanking Is Beneficial

Yes, tanking may seem like a problem that all leagues have to deal with, especially when it comes to marketing and all that, but you know what: It has to happen, especially with the franchise teams that are that bad. You want them to get better and to be relevant in the league again and they need to find their future quarterbacks or defensive line or whatever their problems are. It’s good for the NFL, it’s good for their future, and it’s good for the franchises. They want to get better and they want to be a difference in the NFL again, but there’s only one way to solve that, and that’s to get good draft picks and that means having to lose in order to get them. It may not be fair and it may not be what the NFL wants, but it has to happen, and for the teams trying to get better, they’re willing to lose and disappoint fans now to get better for the future.