How to Properly Throw an NFL Season(The Suck for Luck Principle)
Written by Curt Popejoy on 11/03/2011
First off let me say, as I have watched and re-watched every game Andrew Luck has played that I have recorded, I grade him out higher than recent incoming quarterbacks from the past 3 drafts, even Matt Stafford who I said was the next Aaron Rogers when he came out. It just so happens he’s going to be in a draft(assuming he declares) that is going to include some really exceptional talent at several spots. So the notion that Luck being the No. 1 overall pick is not a forgone conclusion(More on this in a future column). As I said in my previous article about Luck, there are teams while are struggling mightily this year who have huge holes at numerous spots but quarterback isn't one of them. But if you are a team like the Miami Dolphins or the Indianapolis Colts you can see the direct result of why you stink to the guy under center.
But what do you do? The drop off after Luck to guys like Matt Barkley and Landry Jones is pretty significant in my opinion, so much so that they would be a bad consolation prize if you miss on Luck. But you can’t throw a season. I know as a Steeler fan, there have been times at the end of down seasons I’ve hoped they lose so they can get a better draft choice but it was a point when the playoffs were out of reach and the difference between and meaningless win or loss was a half dozen spots in the draft.
So how do you do it? First off you can’t. Not for a whole season or even half. There’s no way it is even feasible for a team to throw multiple football games. The players would never go for it. The coaches would never go for it. And fans and media would pick up on it quickly. I guess you could try and make it look like those Buffalo Wild Wings commercials, but that might be a bit suspicious. However, I think there is a way, at the end of the year to assure the first pick without raising any(much) suspicion.
Let me weave you a scenario. Miami and Indianapolis both have tough schedules. Schedules that to me don’t have a lot of winnable games on them. Maybe 1 or 2 each. So let’s assume both teams go into the final week of the season with 2 wins each all alone at the time of the potential draft order. What do you do? Who they play or where is irrelevant. The strategy for both is the same.
First you play your backups. End of the season, player evaluation for the following year, it’s an easy one. And it would stand to reason that these younger more inexperienced players won’t be as good as their counterparts. The possible backfire to this scenario is that in some cases these young players are going to come out and play with such intensity and effort that they will steal a victory. And please keep in mind, I am not talking about wholesale changes across the board. You have to be sneaky. Plug in young players to a few key spots that you want to “evaluate”. Running backs and wide receivers are easy ones. Cornerbacks as well, and that can pay you big dividends in terms of sucking because young corners get burnt early and often.
Second, you scale back play calling. I know ever fan thinks they can tell every play call and every coverage. But they can’t. So really this would be easy. And for an NFL caliber defense, if an offense starts to water down it’s play calling, it can key on things and put the clamps on it. And the justification for this? They are playing young players or course.
So now you have a near perfect two prong scenario to help your team finish a bad season on a high note. No, not with a win, but with the top pick in the NFL draft.
Disclaimer:Before I get hatemail(which I love by the way), I know this won’t happen. But it could. And it could work. I love the idea that players on bad teams play hard even when it’s futile to do so. And at the same time if I am a GM, I cringe at a bad team getting a meaningless win at the end of the season that pushes them from the top of the first round to the middle where in many cases the talent drop off is significant. And let’s not act like this sort of thing doesn't happen in professional sports. NBA teams do it over multiple seasons to get draft picks and cap space in order to go out and acquire big money free agents. They field losing teams over and over knowing full well they aren't competitive looking ahead. Why would it be so unreasonable for an NFL team to look to the next ten years of their franchise for a few weeks of a bad year? To me it seems to make perfect sense. You sacrifice a little in the short run for huge gains(potentially) in the long run. Suck for Luck!
Last Edited: 11/03/2011