The field is really crowded in the NFL this year. You don’t know who’s gonna wind up breaking loose.
You think I’m talking about the top of the playoff picture? I could be.
But if the top is that impacted, then it goes without saying that there needs to be a whole lot of teams bottom feeding this year too.
Coming into this week’s games, Tampa, the Jets, Oakland, Jacksonville and Tennessee were all two-win teams. Washington was hopelessly out of the draft pick race with three. The Jaguars, Raiders and Buccaneers all did their part by losing, but the Titans and Jets played each other.
Something had to give.
It was the case of a resistible force vs. a moveable object. With New York leading 16-11 and one second left, the Titans ran one of those crazy desperation plays like “Stanford Band” or “Homerun Throwback” and it damn near worked.
Should Tennessee have even been trying? Should the Jets have let them score? Can you win in the NFL by losing?
Some of these teams can already answer that question. Jacksonville took QB Blake Bortles third in this year’s draft, and they took OT Luke Joeckel second in last year’s. The last time the Jaguars didn’t have a top 10 draft pick was 2007.
Ironically, that was the year the Raiders took JaMarcus Russell #1 overall. In case you forgot, they didn’t get any better after that.
If there’s a blueprint for success in this matter, maybe ask the Rams. They got a king’s ransom from Washington for the Robert Griffin pick. Washington stinks worse than ever. The Rams, while not yet over the hump, don’t.
The weight of the evidence, moreover, suggests that putting a good but not great quarterback like Joe Flacco or Russell Wilson at the head of a great team is a more effective way of building a team than taking a shot at getting the next Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers. Stated another way, for every Andrew Luck there are 10 or 20 JaMarcus Russells.
But the temptation to finish last remains strong, with shiny prizes like Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota waiting for the team that can lose its way to the bottom.
Of course, Jacksonville and Oakland probably aren’t even in the quarterback market, so for those teams, the allure becomes a Rams-type deal that loads them up with draft picks. Someone will surely want to move up to take that next great quarterback. No matter how long the odds at getting one.