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To tank or not to tank? That is the fan’s question

Will you be rooting for the Jets to win or lose the rest of the way?

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

What was once a season with much hope following the acquisition of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron now turns into one with essentially none.

A team being eliminated from the playoffs is always a funny thing. Once that happens, the season is over for all intents and purposes. For the New York Jets, the fat lady sang on their season this Sunday as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. However, the Jets still have 3 games left that many fans will still want to watch, so what do those fans root for?

On one hand, you could argue the goal of a team is to win as many games as they can, so fans should root for wins. On another, you could argue the goal of an NFL team is to win the Super Bowl with winning as many games as possible being the route to doing so. Under that perspective, the Super Bowl is no longer on the table, so should fans care about wins? From a pride perspective, sure. However, from a practical team building perspective those wins are actually harmful as it causes a team to have a worse draft position from which to add players. The fans who take on the perspective that losing is in the team’s best interest are considered to be “pro tank” and that’s the argument that I’m going to try to justify here.

So why root for the Jets to tank, or to lose the rest of the way? Well because doing so could be the difference between picking 3rd overall or picking in the mid teens if they were to win out. The obvious benefit here is the best players in the draft typically go higher in the draft, so having a higher pick gives you a better chance to acquire them. Many fans argue against this point, citing evidence such as quarterback bust Zach Wilson going before budding superstar wide receiver Jamarr Chase who was drafted by the Cincinatti Bengals at pick 5. Under this framing, they argue the pick matters less than the person calling the shots. Admittedly this is true, but it also avoids a key piece of context: teams can only select the players who are available when they pick. Accordingly, the Jets had the opportunity to select Chase at pick 2, and a smart decision maker may have done just that. However, the decision maker who picked 7th could have thought Chase was the best pick in years and it wouldn’t have mattered. They never had a chance to select him, because he was taken by the Cincinatti Bengals at pick 5.

Beyond that, there are also significant ramifications for the value associated with one’s pick, which is a resource that is valuable in the event that a team wishes to trade their pick for a pick or a player. Using the DraftTek draft pick value chart, we can see that the 5th overall pick is worth 1700 points whereas the 15th overall pick is worth 1050 points. This means that a team could move back 10 slots from 5 to 15 and reasonably ask for a pick worth around 600 points, which is a pick in the late first or early second round. Of note, the gaps between picks lessen over time, which is why the drop from 15 (1050) to 25 (720) is only around 300 points even though it is still a 10 spot trade back. A value of 300 is the value assigned to picks made at the end of round 2 or the beginning of round 3, a notable drop in value compared to the pick value of moving from 5 to 15. For the trade back crowd, this means that the quality of the trade package that would likely be received will be lessened for every additional win that the 2023 team earns.

Long story short, picking higher allows you more opportunities, which makes losing a positive thing for the team once the playoffs are no longer in reach. By comparison, wins add nothing to the playoff picture while harming one’s draft slot, which can be viewed as a net negative.

With all that said, the players don’t care about this. They’re all playing for their reputation and the contract values that reputation will afford them in negotiations down the road. None of them are trying to put bad film on tape for teams to use as a reason to offer them contracts with lesser values (or no contracts at all).

The same goes for coaches. No coach works all year long just to intend to lose when the games are actually played.

But fans? Well, for fans (who have no control over the game), I get the allure of rooting for losses at this point to ensure that the 2024 Jets are as well positioned to compete for the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Personally, I will be doing just that, and I have no qualms or hesitance in doing so. I hope they lose this weekend and the two weekends after before earning a high draft pick that winds up being an all-pro left tackle for a decade to come. That’s what will drive my rooting the rest of the way.

Let me know what you think. What will drive your rooting in this 0% of making the playoffs world that we’re now living in?

Poll

Which will you be rooting for?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    The New York Jets to win their remaining games
    (44 votes)
  • 74%
    The New York Jets to lose their remaining games
    (131 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now