To Tank, Or Not To Tank

The Buffalo Bills have the option to tank in order to increase their chances at long-term success. Is it a good option for them at this point?

Tank. slang (verb): To do poorly or decline rapidly.

It’s mid-January and the Buffalo Bills are again in limbo. As the saying goes… not bad enough to get a top draft pick, and not good enough for the playoffs. If you’re a fan of the Buffalo sports, you’ve probably heard about tanking, and thanks to a successful tank executed by the Buffalo Sabres over the past few seasons, fans are wondering if that would be the best course of action for the Bills.

The Sabres drafted their generational player and hope to find success moving forward. The Bills are still searching for their generational player — a franchise quarterback. A case can be made for tanking, and a case can be made for keeping pieces in place without blowing everything up. Here are some of the most popular arguments for, and against, the Buffalo Bills tanking.

Argument for tanking

  1. Quarterback: There is not a position in all of sports that means more than a quarterback does. More than 25 percent of Super Bowl winning QBs were drafted 1st overall. More than 50 percent were drafted in the 1st round. The way to get a franchise quarterback using the path of least resistance is to suffer through 16 games, finish last, get your franchise QB and (hopefully) start winning.
  2. New Regime/Timing: A coaching and scheme change is a time for patience from management (sans Rex Ryan), the players, and fans. The change of power to Sean McDermott is different than the last change of power, where Rex was chosen because ownership thought the Bills “were two plays away from 11-5 and needed a veteran coach.”  By giving the leadership to a first year head coach this time around, there is an opportunity for the Bills to get worse before they get better without as much push-back from the fans as the last regime. A tank could be spun off as preparing for McDermott’s culture change and getting the type of players that he, Leslie Frazier and whoever the new offensive coordinator is, need to be successful.
  3. What’s one more year?  This argument for tanking is pretty simple: It’s been 17 years of disappointment and futility, so what’s one more really bad year? The Bills have played 272 mostly forgettable games since their last playoff game — the Music City Miracle.  I think that many fans would be willing to deal with 16 more games if it meant getting a franchise quarterback.

Argument against tanking

  1. It’s not always necessary: While I believe having a franchise quarterback is the most important indicator of success in the NFL, teams do not have to bottom out to get their franchise quarterback. Let’s look at the playoff teams from this year. Three playoff quarterbacks were selected first overall, two of which were aquired via trade and only Matthew Stafford remains with the team that drafted them. The playoffs also featured QBs drafted throughout the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th round.  Between the draft, free agency and trades, elite QBs can be found other places than the first overall pick.
  2. Waste of resources: A team that has LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Charles Clay, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes is not a team primed for a tank.  This year LeSean McCoy showed us why Doug Whaley was so fast to pull the trigger on that trade when he was enjoying a glass of wine on the Pegula’s yacht. To tank would probably mean to unload McCoy, which, after his performance this year, would be very difficult to justify. The past three years the Bills’ record is 24-24 and they do not have a roster that is close to the bottom feeders of the league right now.
  3. Enough is enough: If quarterback is the main reason to tank, this is the main reason not to tank. It’s simple: Buffalo fans have seen enough “tanked” years. After seeing the recent success of longtime failing organizations such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Oakland Raiders, Bills fans want success now more than ever.  Failure isn’t an option.  This team and their fans deserve a winner-it’s Buffalo time!!

So, what do you think?  Should the Bills join the Sabres and embrace a full-on tank, or do they try to get their franchise QB by other means? It can go either way. Which direction would you like to see them take? Discuss below!

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