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 Post subject: Tanking in the NFL
PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:40 am 
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http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/1965 ... rowns-2017

an interesting article on tanking in the NFL. They give the pros and cons of tanking in the NFl vs the other major sports.

Quote:
As the NBA draft approaches, the word that repeatedly comes into play for the teams at the top of the draft is "tanking." NBA organizations with little hope of competing for a playoff spot (let alone a championship) have made an art form of paring down their rosters in an attempt to amass draft picks and shots at true franchise-changing players over the past few years, with the Philadelphia 76ers serving as the highest-profile culprits. Baseball teams like the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs have bottomed out before rebuilding, with the latter organization riding their tank all the way to a World Series.

It's not a surprise, then, that the Cleveland Browns hired a quantitatively inclined executive away from another sport -- former Dodgers general manager and "Moneyball" character Paul DePodesta -- and subsequently followed the blueprint of how an NFL team might tank to a tee. Along the way, they emulated the philosophies exhibited by some of the best organizations in football past and present, but the Browns still incurred some criticism after an ugly 1-15 campaign in 2016. They still seem closer to the Sixers than they do the Astros or Cubs, albeit after only one season of calculated losses.


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The goal with tanking is to be bad on purpose; so bad, in fact, that you ensure you end up with the worst possible record and the best odds of nabbing the top overall pick in the draft. Just as it's easier for a mediocre team to look good over a 16-game season, the same is true for a decent team to struggle and look terrible in a small sample, a scenario that might get in the way of all that tanking you were doing as a truly bad team.


Quote:
How to tank

Move on from unnecessary veterans but try to retain enough of an infrastructure to evaluate the young talent on your roster. Tanking teams have no need for luxury. They don't need shutdown cornerbacks, flashy wide receivers or running backs who keep opposing defensive coordinators awake at night. If anything, defensive coordinators should be thanking tanking teams for giving them hours of blessed sleep during a long, bleary-eyed season.

At the same time, though, it's naive and short-sighted for organizations to dump all of their talent in a way that makes it impossible to evaluate players at key positions. It's easy for even a talented quarterback prospect to develop bad pass rush-related habits if he doesn't have a competent offensive line protecting him. It's no surprise that teams like the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns have rebuilt their respective rosters while investing heavily along their front five, although Cleveland did make the misstep of allowing Mitchell Schwartz to leave for Kansas City in free agency last offseason.

Acquire additional draft picks by trading down and amassing compensatory selections. As tempting as it can be for subpar teams to move up to grab a player they feel extremely confident about, we know those trades have a pretty low batting average. Teams like the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots have rebuilt and repeatedly restocked their roster by trading down. Those are good organizations from which to steal ideas.

Likewise, losing organizations should generally avoid the temptation of free agency given how far they are from contention. If they do have veteran free agents who other teams will want to steal, they're probably better off recouping compensatory picks and targeting players released by other teams (or waiting until the compensatory formula freezes in the spring). If they don't have many veterans likely to attract serious free-agent attention, the team should be more aggressive in free agency. It's no surprise the Browns mostly stayed out of free agency after the 2015 season before investing more heavily this spring.

Take a shot (or don't) on a quarterback. Rebuilds hinge on identifying and acquiring a franchise passer, a move which may not (and perhaps should not) be the first decision a team makes. It doesn't do a team going nowhere much good to go after a decent quarterback like Jay Cutler, given Cutler won't be enough to push them toward the two poles at the top and bottom of the standings that NFL teams want to target.

Instead, bottoming-out teams should think about their quarterback situation differently. They can look for a veteran who they can pretend will develop the hopeless quarterback prospects on the back of their roster, as the Jets have done with Josh McCown. Smarter teams will target options with higher ceilings and lower floors, as the Browns did with Robert Griffin III last year. RG III didn't work out, as he was alternately injured and ineffective, but the Browns ended up with the first overall pick in part as a result.

Quote:
Should teams tank?

There's another concern with football that seems worth mentioning, and it's moral. The incredibly high attrition and injury rates of football, relative to other sports, raise reasonable concerns about whether teams should be willing to field a deliberately uncompetitive roster. It's one thing for a baseball team to throw a bunch of replacement-level pitchers onto the mound when the only people in line to get hurt are the beer vendors in the bleachers with their backs to line drives; it's another to run a quarterback out behind an unqualified offensive line. On the flip side, I suspect that the replacement-level players who might get an opportunity for meaningful reps from a tanking team would be delighted to get their NFL shot.

My suspicion is that tanking, as a general philosophy in football, isn't a great idea. The number of truly transformative players in the NFL is so few -- and the single-season variance is sufficiently high -- for it to be a low-reward philosophy. The exception would be in a year in which there's at least one and preferably two or more true franchise quarterbacks available in the draft, but those opportunities are few and far between. While teams like the pre-Reggie McKenzie Raiders might bottom out after years of bad draft picks and useless free-agent spending, deliberate tanking seems ill-advised.

At the same time, though, some of the methodologies that come with tanking could be considered savvy practices for teams trying to be competitive, too. Trading down for additional picks and grabbing compensatory selections while mostly avoiding free agency is exactly what the league's smartest teams do, even after they've become perennial playoff contenders.

Tanking as a philosophy exists because the upside is obvious: Teams need superstars to compete, and the best way for teams like the 76ers, Astros and Cubs to acquire those stars was via the draft. It's not a foolproof philosophy, but the traditional method is hardly foolproof and less likely to deliver stars in the process. In that sense, NFL organizations bucking the norm and trying something out of the box to achieve long-term success would be doing the right thing. Being realistic about your roster and its path to contention isn't as engaging of a term as tanking, but it's a better descriptor of how teams like the Browns and Jets might rebuild their way to the playoffs.

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 Post subject: Re: Tanking in the NFL
PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:58 pm 
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The one problem with this theory is the new CBA requires teams to spend at least 90% of their cap. So you have to pay someone.

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 Post subject: Re: Tanking in the NFL
PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:49 pm 
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I thought the floor was slightly lower but perhaps it has gone up.

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 Post subject: Re: Tanking in the NFL
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:04 pm 
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Kodiak wrote:
The one problem with this theory is the new CBA requires teams to spend at least 90% of their cap. So you have to pay someone.


Like trading for a horrible QB with a ridiculous salary to make the numbers (Osweiler)?

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 Post subject: Re: Tanking in the NFL
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:48 am 
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Kodiak wrote:
The one problem with this theory is the new CBA requires teams to spend at least 90% of their cap. So you have to pay someone.

Didn't this just happen int the NBA offseason where they were paying average guys a ton of money?


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