The Houston Texans have gone 4-12, 4-13, and 3-13-1 over the past three seasons, but for the last two it doesn’t appear like that franchise has tried to do anything at all to win games. Players can’t tank because they’re fighting for their careers with every play, it just doesn’t make sense. And though former head coach Brian Flores says that the Miami Dolphins tried to pay him to tank, coaches usually have more to gain by winning than by losing.
That’s why the Texans ended up picking second overall this year, not first: Former head coach Lovie Smith and his players had no incentive to lose to the Indianapolis Colts in the season finale because he knew he wasn’t going to be around for the draft.
But ownership? Ownership has all kinds of reasons to tank because they’ll be around for as long as they want to be unless you’re Daniel Snyder.
Texans ownership put Deshaun Watson on the trade block and sat him for the entire 2021 season while they waited for the legal process to play out for his off-field issues. They had fired Bill O’Brien in 2020 and then went to left field to find replacement David Culley, who the Texans then fired in 2022 despite knowing that they had the worst roster in the NFL. Houston should have been just aware of how bad the team was last season, but still fired Lovie following a 3-13-1 campaign after handing him the worst roster possible.
They cut or traded good players. They didn’t attempt to sign or trade for upgrades. The Texans by all accounts didn’t do anything to try and win games and yet they still somehow managed to get the second overall pick instead of the first. When that happened, Houston decided not only to draft C.J. Stroud as the consolation prize to Bryce Young, the traded up to the number three spot to draft edge rusher Will Anderson for new head coach DeMeco Ryans.
All of a sudden, a team that wasn’t doing anything to try and win is now operating like they have a new general manager even though Nick Caserio has been with the Texans for several years.
They hired the best head coach available. They traded up for Will Anderson. They extended tackle Laremy Tunsil. They signed Dalton Schultz, Jimmie Ward, Denzel Perryman, Cory Littleton, and Robert Woods. Maybe the Texans won’t make the playoffs in 2023, but with a new quarterback prospect, a top tier pass rushing prospect, two first round picks from last year, and the opportunity to create a lot of cap space in the coming years, aren’t the Houston Texans far better off now than they were at the end of O’Brien and Watson’s tenure?
If the Texans did tank, was it good for them? Was it the right decision for the franchise?
The Los Angeles Rams are now the latest team to be accused of tanking, having gone 5-12 last season and then stripping down the roster as much as they could in order to get under the salary cap limit and to make sure that for the first time in almost a decade they have a first round pick in 2024. There is also an elite QB prospect in their backyard named Caleb Williams who is expected to declare for next year’s draft.
But the Rams would have to “go all-in” to lose just as much as they went all-in to win a Super Bowl, so that means that as long as Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Cooper Kupp are on the roster, L.A.’s not officially tanking.
My question for Rams fans today: Generally speaking, is it wrong or a bad idea for a team to tank?
Let us know all of your tanking related thoughts and Rams current roster thoughts in the comments below. Best comment wins.