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Is it too soon to ‘embrace the tank’?

The Denver Broncos are among three teams with an 0-3 record to start the NFL season, but is it appropriate for fans to desire a ‘tank’ mentality so early?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Through three games into the 2023 NFL season, no team has performed worse than the Denver Broncos.

The team lost an ugly opener to a bad Las Vegas Raiders team, choked away a 21-3 lead in a loss the following week to another bad team in the Washington Commanders, and most recently suffered the most humiliating, lopsided loss in recent history to the Miami Dolphins.

To say fans of the Broncos are disgruntled doesn’t do justice. No, this fan base, one accustomed to playoff appearances, double-digit-win seasons, and Super Bowl aspirations is not simply disgruntled or upset or are downright pissed off.

Therefore, despite it only being three games into the season, a solid chunk of fans (and perhaps media types as well) have seen enough. The season is lost, and keeping the status quo another year will just be applying a new paint job to a broken down old Pontiac. And as the Broncos sit at the bottom of most NFL power rankings, some fans are moving attention away from what is happening on the field and instead towards the 2024 NFL Draft order.

Yet, to blow it up and “embrace the tank”, so to speak, to secure the top pick and perhaps more early picks if the team unloads a core of the roster before the October 31st trade deadline, may seem premature to objective outside observers.

Some would view the leap to hoping for the number one pick rather than the opportunity to turn this team around as premature and impatient. Yet...this fan base is done with patience.

The team is on its fourth head coach since the retirement of Gary Kubiak in 2016, the last head coach to have a winning record with the Broncos. And each year, nothing changes, and perhaps even gets worse. Fans are tired of it, and Sean Payton was supposed to be the guy to apply a quick fix. He didn’t.

So for fans wanting to blow it up after just three games, it’s not out of the realm of understanding. The team hasn’t had a first round pick in three years and is paying a ridiculous amount of money to Russell Wilson along with giving pricey contracts to some of those around him as well.

Thus far, no one is earning their money. And for Wilson, God bless him, he’s putting in a FAR improved level of play from the previous season, but the team still sits 0-3, he’s getting nothing from the run game, and his wide receivers don’t appear to be as threatening as some had hoped they’d be. Why continue to run it back with the same cast year after year when there is opportunity to start fresh through the draft? Guys like Caleb Williams, Drake May, and perhaps others who will blossom this season don’t come around very often.

The two most successful QBs in Broncos history, John Elway and Peyton Manning, were former number one overall picks. Perhaps it makes sense to put the team in that position once more.

The problem with that strategy, however, is first, the moral implication. As the saying goes, “You play to win the game”, and essentially giving up on the season when it’s not even a quarter of the way through may seem drastic if not criminal to some. And the offense has shown flashes, as have younger players like Marvin Mims and Jaleel McLaughlin, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the unit can put it together enough to put together a much more impressive final 34 of the season.

And there’s also the NIL factor in college that could mess up the Broncos (or any team’s) plans if they land the number one pick. If Caleb Williams, should he be the most likely top overall prospect, not like what he sees in Denver, what’s to stop him from returning to USC on a giant NIL deal? Nothing like that has happened just yet, but the Broncos have been in the gutter for so long, the last time they were any fun to follow was when Williams was in grade school.

In any regard, the discussions and debates around the tanking strategy will begin to get louder and louder with each Broncos loss or even underperformance. The Carolina Panthers have their supposed franchise player in Bryce Young, the Bears could still be comfortable with Justin Fields for the near future, so if Denver sees itself taking more and more losses, that top pick becomes a little more appealing with each week.

And the noise about it will certainly make it’s way inside the locker room, so how the players react and respond will tell onlookers a lot along the rest of the season.


Is it too soon to think about tanking?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Yes! Give the team a fair shot!
    (107 votes)
  • 65%
    No! Give me a franchise QB and picks!
    (206 votes)
313 votes total Vote Now

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