Tanking: A term used to describe when sports teams lose games on purpose to secure some sort of future competitive advantage.
Yesterday was another typical game of the Colts’ 2022-23 season. A day where the defense had a great game, and did enough for the team to win, but the offense cannot get anything going, while also consistently shooting themselves in the foot, and the result is a yet another loss. The Colts fired Frank Reich after a humilliating 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots, putting them at 3-5-1 after many fans expected a deep playoff run this season, and brought in former All-Pro center (and also commentator) Jeff Saturday as the interim head coach. Much of the NFL landscape was outraged by the move, and there were some outlandish takes thrown around, but I agree with the point they were making: there were much better qualified options already in the coaching staff, including former HCs John Fox and Gus Bradley. Perhaps even special teams coach Bubba Ventrone, who has been doing an amazing job this season was also more deserving of the role.
Thing is, there is a reason Frank was fired mid-season instead of the front office waiting until the year ended, and it certainly was not because the brass thought that Saturday was going to come in and orchestrate a comeback for the ages and make it to the playoffs, it was because they want to lose, and it also makes the team more relevant for the fans to tune in, drawing the spotlight to Indy. This team has way too much talent, and Frank is a decent head coach, so while the Colts would probably not have made the playoffs, they certainly would have won some more games. Perhaps one could even argue that with Frank the Colts beat the Eagles and the Steelers, but that would have been for naught, as we would still be out of contention and putting ourselves in a worse position to get that guy. Now the problem with that is, it leads you nowhere. Frank would probably still be fired after consecutive seasons without making it to the post-season, and the only thing different is that the Colts would be picking in the 10-15 range instead of the top 5, and that is most likely not where you get your franchise quarterback.
Irsay realized that the way the Colts were handling the quarterback position was not the right one, and that the team needs to get their guy for the future instead of looking for stopgaps at the most important position on the team. This draft there are two top quarterback prospects that I would really like leading this roster, Ohio State’s C.J Stroud, and Alabama’s Bryce Young, and they are not leaving the top 5. The teams the Colts will have to finish below in the standings to get either of the two are Carolina or Houston. Houston is 1-9-1 so that leaves Carolina at 4-8 as the only logical option to finish below. The Colts, led by Irsay, are tanking. They have no interest in winning irrelevant football games this season and delay the progress even more, especially after a 5-year tenure with Reich that resulted in just one playoff win. Irsay wants to be more aggressive in his pursuit for the next guy that will lead the team, and he does not care about hurting some feelings or sacrificing some wins if it gets him there faster.