Should the St. Louis Rams Consider Tanking?

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Nov 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher looks on from the sidelines in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It might be time to tank.

It’s a phrase no fan base wants to hear. It’s an admittance of a season’s failure. It means another year of accepting loss after loss. When a team tanks, there’s very little reason for fans to continue watching and attend games.

So what exactly is “tanking”? It’s the idea that an unsuccessful sports team will purposely lose games in order to receive a more desirable draft pick the following year. “Tanking” is extremely common for lowly teams in basketball and football, as the drafts provide at least a few top prospects that can have a positive impact on the franchise’s future.

For example, the Los Angeles Clippers—a basketball franchise with a history of failure—drafted power forward Blake Griffin with the first overall pick in 2009 after “tanking” their previous season by winning only 19 games out of 82. In just a few years, Griffin managed to change the pathetic culture of the Los Angeles Clippers and transform the team into perennial playoff contenders.

But if you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you’re more interested in football than basketball. So let’s take a look at the “tanking” season of the Indianapolis Colts back in 2011. The team lost future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning for the season due to nerve damage and was forced to rely on the likes of Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins, and Dan Orlovsky as signal callers. Needless to say, the team got clobbered on a week-to-week basis after going 10-6 the year before with Manning under center. The Colts became the worst team in the NFL that season, ending with a record of 2-14.

Sep 27, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) looks to pass during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. The Colts won 35-33. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Winning only two games in a sixteen game season is depressing. It’s demoralizing. However, there was a slimmer of hope for the Colts franchise and its fan base. That slimmer of hope was Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck, the starting quarterback of the Stanford Cardinal football team from 2009-2011, had all the potential in the world. He had the size, mobility, arm, accuracy, and decision-making skills of the next elite NFL quarterback. So when the Colts ended up “tanking” with a “Suck-for-Luck” mentality, they knew what they were doing. Even fans knew what they were doing.

The next year, Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos. However, the Indianapolis Colts had a new shiny toy in Andrew Luck, who has led the team to three playoff appearances in three years. Although he is currently struggling on the field and with injury, Luck is a prime example of how a team can be benefited by “tanking” a season.

The St. Louis Rams are currently sitting at 4-7 this season after losing four games in a row. It’s Week 12 of the regular season and a much more successful Arizona Cardinals team is looking for their tenth victory of the season at the Edward Jones Dome. It’s unfortunate, but all signs point to the Rams losing this game badly. Although they tend to play well against divisional opponents under Jeff Fisher, the Rams have been playing terrible football as of late. They’ve been absolutely horrendous. It’s more than likely that the Rams’ record is 4-8 by Sunday.

So should the Rams consider tanking? Should the Rams just give up and deem this a lost season or should they continue to fight for more victories in a season that probably won’t lead to the playoffs? In the next few slides, I will provide arguments for both sides and give my own opinion on how the Rams should handle the last five games of the regular season.

Next: Embrace the Tank