T ank For Tua seems to be the motto of some fanbases down in the doldrums of the NFL. It is the glimmer of light for teams deep in disappointing seasons.
They are hoping that Alabama quarterback Tuanigamanuolepola “Tua” Tagovailoa – set to be top pick in next year’s college draft – will turn their teams around and be the much-desired “franchise quarterback”.
Until last week that was the mantra for Miami Dolphins fans as a way of explaining why the team traded assets away before the season started. But then the team went and beat the Jets. A win that potentially took away any shot they had at the number one pick. The Cincinnati Bengals are current leaders – if we can call the worst team in the league leaders – but right behind them are the Jets, Falcons, Washington and the above mentioned Dolphins.
But fans hoping to be the worst team in the league to secure the number one draft pick is nothing more than a dice roll with the next five years of the franchise on the line. You’d get better odds at a Vegas casino.
First up, these guys are professional athletes. They may not be at their best, but surely they don’t want to be in the worst team. After all, it is their career on the line.
But, more than that, in the last decade there have been seven quarterbacks taken with the number one pick. Two of those no longer play. Jameis Winston loses his starting job almost weekly. Cam Newton is injured, again, with questions over his performances. The other three – Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff – were all drafted in the last four years, all with question marks about their ability.
Those players all had similar college stats to those Tua is currently posting in the SEC, but surely there is enough sense to see that pinning your hopes on a draft pick is silly. You would think, right?
But look deeper, and you see that on the list of teams “tanking for Tua” are Washington, who drafted Robert Griffin III in 2012 with the expectation that he would be a franchise quarterback. That same year, six picks later, Miami took Ryan Tannehill. In that time the New York Jets have drafted six different quarterbacks.
Yes, Tua will most likely go to one of the above teams, but the management of the team needs to build a team around them. Not one of these teams will see a change of fortune unless they start making smarter choices. Tanking for Tua will undoubtedly give the team some power, but what’s the point in having a Ferrari engine on a moped.
Of the 13 games played this weekend, ten were decided by less than one score, with the Ravens continuing to torment Bengals fans in a 49-13 win. Despite the Bengals moving on from quarterback Andy Dalton and starting Ryan Finlay, the offence once again struggled while Lamar Jackson threw three touchdowns and rushed for another for Baltimore. The Bengals remain the only team without a win this season and are first in line for Tua.
The other more significant deficit win came in New Orleans where Atlanta outplayed the Saints on both sides of the ball. Despite Drew Brees attempting 45 passes, the Saints were held to just nine points in a 26-9 loss.
Tennessee Titans upset the Kansas City Chiefs 35-32 in a seesaw game. Even the return of Patrick Mahomes just four weeks after dislocating his knee could not prevent a resurgent Tannehill from leading the Titans to a fourth, fourth-quarter comeback in five weeks.
The battle for New York had a performance from the Jets that will have the above fans claiming they no longer want Tua as they tore through the Giants defence for a 34-27 win.
Elsewhere, the Rams’ offence failed to get going as they lost 12-17 to Pittsburgh, with both teams aware that another loss will mean not making the play-offs.
Buffalo also failed to get going as a last-minute field goal miss cost them against the Browns. Joining the parade of tight wins, the Miami Dolphins officially changed last week’s one win into a streak. The 16-12 win over Indianapolis means they have won two in a row.