Chargers Roundtable: Should the San Diego Chargers tank for a better draft pick?

USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts from the Blue staff discuss whether or not the Chargers should tank for the rest of the season.

Hello, esteemed colleagues. Since I stirred things up on the Twitter last night with this idea, I wanted to get all of your thoughts on it.

Since it's clear the chances of this team making the playoffs this year are slim to none, why should they or shouldn't they throw in the towel and have an eye towards securing the best position possible in next year's draft?

Jason Peters :

It is clear that the Chargers are not going to make a playoff run this season. I count six remaining games on the schedule where they are clearly the inferior team (Denver twice, Kansas City twice, Indianapolis and Miami). Even if the Chargers win the other five games and pull off one or two upsets against division rivals, that still probably leaves the them short of the playoffs.

That being said, I still hate the idea of sucking for the rest of the season on purpose. Whether or not you are actively doing so, telling the players that it is okay to lose is a dangerous road to go down, both for current and future players and staff alike. No one wants to play for a team where the message is "We'll give up on you a third of the way through the season!" Also, this team has enough reputation for having a lack of a "killer instinct" without actually culturing an atmosphere of late-game incompetence.

Losing this season is not the worst thing in the world. Harboring a culture of losing is. When the team I am rooting for is on the field, I want those players giving 100%. I want them winning now. I want to see fire and motivation whether or not they win or lose. The Chargers may not be planning to win it all this season, but they sure as hell aren't planning on rolling over and giving up on the rest of the games either. I wouldn't want them to.

Very well said, Jason. I think I still disagree, but we'll get to that later. For now, who's ready to go next?

Andrew Tschiltsch :

I would never support an organization that told it's players to lose on purpose for any reason. I also don't think any organization would ever do that. No professional athlete worth his salt isn't going to go out and try to win the game, no matter what they're record is. Every game is a valuable learning experience for this team and regime.

Find out what talent you got. If you don't figure it out now, how do you know who you need to draft?

Short and sweet. I like it. And hey! You're not last for once, Andrew. Good job changing it up.

jkvandal :

With a new HC and GM, both of whom are young and in their first job at those positions, I don't anticipate either would endorse or approve of losing games on purpose. Both undoubtedly worked hard to get where they are, and will no doubt do whatever they can to win games and stay there.

On top of all that, the HC will be attempting to forge the team identity he wants, and if the players pick up the team is losing on purpose, that could undermine his efforts for as long as he lasts in SD.

I don't think we have to worry about the team intentionally tanking it for the rest of the season for the reasons above, but also because El Capitan would not stand for that, he's too much of a competitor.

Yeah, I don't think Rivers would give up even if his team was losing by 100 points in the fourth quarter. Good all around, my friend. The representative from Texas now has the floor.

SDNativeinTX :

Well, after the first few comments, I will take a slightly different tack...

The way this team looks right now, I think my 7-9 forecast may have been to optimistic; while most everyone made comments recently about how Peyton is going to make this secondary look, I'm concerned about how Luck is going to make the secondary look on MNF. Did you see how he shredded the best secondary in the NFL last Sunday?

With that said, this discussion is premature and should be postponed until Sunday night, December 1. If the team is 4-8 after the Bengals game (November may be a rough month, bros), it may be time to seriously consider TALENT EVALUATION for the last 4 games of the season. If there is a starter with a painful hangnail, sit 'em. If you have a starter that has been playing poorly all season (cough Cox cough), bench him for non-performance and let the team know that the suckage ("lack of effort and execution") is unacceptable. Let's see if the back-ups can develop their skills a little bit with growth in 2014 in mind.

With the losses to the Titans and the Raiders last Sunday night, the Bolts are probably looking at 6-10 anyway. That should be good for a top 10 pick.

A team should not tank games; this is PROFESSIONAL football. But there is nothing wrong with seeing what you have on your roster in the last month of the season if there are questions about how good your current starters are and your team is far outside the playoff hunt.

I think Robert is kind of hitting on one of my points in this whole thing. There are ways to "tank" without telling your players to lose on purpose. Well done.

Richard Wade :

I think you guys are coming at this the wrong way. This is a five-win team. I picked them to win five games before training camp because I didn't think they would stay healthy and there's no depth. That appears to be the case through five weeks. They aren't healthy at important positions, and nobody has stepped up to fill the void. They don't need to throw in the towel to get a high pick. Rivers and co. will need to be perfect to win every game outside of the one against the Jaguars, and if you're given the option of betting against perfection, you should take it.

You're probably going to be starting a Thomas Keiser or Tourek Williams next week. That's while trying to win. You guys want to talk about tanking. What team are you watching?

Leave it to Richard to look at this thing from a whole different angle that no one's considering. Even if you don't happen to agree with him, you have to admire that consistency. Nicholas, what say you?

Nick Shepherd :

Aren't we already tanking? The team is trotting out Marcus Gilchrist at Strong Safety each and every week, with players like Kerry Rhodes just waiting to be signed. This team is 3 impact players away on defense from remotely resembling a contender. They have massive holes at the aforementioned SS spot, but also at OLB and CB. Beyond that, there is literally zero depth. The team is banking on the likes of Richard Marshall to be their 3rd corner. This just isn't a good team.

Will they have flashes? Sure. This is a QB-driven league and Rivers is a good QB. But he basically has to throw for 400 yards week in and week out for this team to have a chance. He's good, but he's not THAT good. No one has EVER been that good. Beyond that, the team is missing its #1 and #2 WR's and its starting LT and LG...without PERFECT play from Rivers, they aren't going anywhere.

Now, could they do better? Sure. The defensive coordinator is one of the worst (if not the absolute worst) in the entire league. They are running schemes that rely on players winning one-on-one matchups, but don't have the players to do so.

The difference in "tanking" and trying their damndest to win every week could end up being a win or two. How are they going to throw in the towel? Tell Rivers (32) and Gates (33) that this year doesn't count? They don't have many left and aren't going to stand for that, anyway. I'm all for seeing what the young guys (Fozzy Whitaker anyone?) can do on both sides of the ball, but they don't have to "tank" to ensure a high pick...they're going to get one anyway.

Nick will be trumpeting the Kerry Rhodes cause the entire season, folks, so settle in and get comfortable. Anyway, good points, Nick.

Jeff Siniard :

At this rate of player loss, this team won't have to tank. The Chargers are already down to their 3rd OT, 4th OG, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th WRs, 2nd and 3rd RB... 3rd and 4th OLB, 5th CB and they're only through Week 5.

Secondly, they've already lost AFC games to HOU, TEN, and OAK, which means any remaining losses really need to come from the NFC East - which are the best bets for wins after Jacksonville. Rivers has been really good (aside from the Oakland game) and he'll probably play well enough to steal another game or two from a team that lays an egg against the Chargers.

I'd like to see this team keep playing hard and keep attempting to win games. It will be easier to identify the players to keep and the players to get rid of. It still gives the younger guys experience in crucial situations and can help build confidence when big plays are made in those moments, and you just never know in the NFL.

Otherwise (here's the incendiary idea, and one I absolutely do not support), if you're really serious about the Chargers tanking and blowing it all up, shouldn't you be shopping Rivers right now, when his value is highest because he's played well, you can clear $15m off the salary cap and still select a talented QB in the 2014 draft because the class is so deep and because you have extra picks?

Hmm. I have to admit that I'm not totally against that Rivers idea. Good work, Jeff, as usual.

David Marver :

Because their chances aren't slim to none! Yes, the Broncos will win the division. But the NFL ends with a single elimination tournament in which the sixth team in each league has a legitimate chance; both the Steelers and Giants have won rings from that slot in recent memory.

And weren't we just running articles on how Philip is playing better than he ever has? NFL wins come and go based on QB play above all else; regardless of our holes defensively, the odds we win the Super Bowl isn't 0% because Philip could get hot at the right moment. Until it is 0%, try to win the damn thing.

Now if and when we're eliminated, I'm not against protecting Philip and letting the young guys get more time, aka creative tanking. But in week freaking six? Get real.

Alright, alright. You actually believe this team has a chance to make a wildcard run, Marver? Really? I'm shocked that anyone actually still believes that. More power to you, I guess.

Superduperboltman :

The Chargers were going to get a mid level pick anyway, right? Going 7-9 or 9-7 may not be much of a difference in the draft with so many mediocre teams. If the Chargers want to suck on purpose it just looks bad. Really bad. Who wants to cheer for a team that wants to lose? I feel like doing that would cause lots of revenue loss for the organization and player morale to fall apart, causing players to want to leave. I think the team should fight for the playoffs until they are eliminated. Once that happens, try to play spoiler for everyone but themselves. Before I was married, I didn't avoid a girl because she was "out of my league." Or how about this metaphor: I'd rather buy a $40 steak dinner than a week's worth of crappy fast food lunches.

Those are interesting analogies, that's for sure.

John Gennaro :

I'd be more interested to know if there's an actual chance of the team "tanking". Did the Colts tank to get Andrew Luck, or did that just happen while they were trying to win every game?

The thing is, fans can't make this decision rationally. Fans are fans for life. Of course I want the team to tank and get the #1 pick. It doesn't hurt my job security, and it adds a huge playmaker/bargaining chip to Telesco's team. Does Mike McCoy or any of the coaches want to tank? Of course not. Ask Cam Cameron how that turned out for him in Miami. This is, shockingly, one of those arguments where I step back and say "I can't possibly understand the situation for the coaches, as they continue to start the mediocre veteran over the rookie that could benefit from the playing time." That being said, there gets to a certain point (usually the second it becomes statistically impossible for the Chargers to make the playoffs) that I start rooting against the current team for the benefit of future teams. Or, at the very least, I start loudly complaining about mediocre veterans getting playing time over young prospects.

Quality stuff, John. Let the young pups play.

Kevin Grauel :

Tanking to get a better pick is never a good idea. What motivation do players have to tank when half of them may not even be on the roster next year? Not to mention players could be tanking so the team can draft somebody to replace them. The team would lose countless amounts of money when fans don't want to buy tickets to see their terrible team or buy merchandise to support them, which is especially crucial for a team that could be on the verge of relocating.

Trying to lose would require so much corruption within an organization that would cause a lot more than an earlier draft pick to fix. On a team with a new coaching staff and many young developing players, the best thing for the future of this team is to work hard day in and day out even though they won't see the kind of ultimate results they are hoping for in 2013.

Do fans want to even buy tickets now? San Diego is on the verge of being at the center of the first Monday night blackout in 14 years. Good stuff, nonetheless, Kevin.

Kyle Posey :

The Chargers are 2-3, in a terrible conference. They currently sit ONE game out of the playoffs. In a league of parity where truly anything can happen on any given Sunday, we are talking about tanking five games in? Blasphemy.

Say we get the sixth overall pick, there's absolutely no guarantee that the player we select at six will be any better than the player we select at 14.

Remember last year, when everyone wanted to lose so we could chose a left tackle? Well, first off, you need a tackle, period. The difference between left and right in today's game is marginal at best. Anyway, back to my point. Would you trade Fluker for top pick Eric Fisher, who's played terrible and now has a concussion I believe? Or for Joeckel, who broke his foot and is out for the year, and prior to that, looked like a train wreck? Same can be said for Lane Johnson. Fluker has out performed all, by quite a bit.

There's no guaranteeing anything if we tank, that's such a loser mentality that I'll never be able to get behind.

Welp. At least Marver isn't alone here. I'm just glad that Kyle joined in on the fun. Always appreciate his perspective. Who's taking the honor of going last this time around?

John Crean :

I take issue with you calling the AFC a terrible conference. The AFC is 18-9 against the NFC head-to-head. The AFC West alone has two 5-0 teams. In the AFC you have the Broncos, Chiefs, Colts and Patriots (as flawed as they are) all dominating. In the NFC you have the Saints and Seahawks, and maybe the 49ers? Hell, all 4 teams in the NFC East are under .500. 10 teams in the AFC are above .500, only 6 in the NFC are.

I'm one of the most optimistic people out there when it comes to the team's prospects, but it's very evident there is no depth on this team, especially on the defense. An entirely new coaching staff, new GM, and a team left in pieces, we're a couple years out from being able to talk about the playoffs.

The absolute worst position an NFL team can be in is win just enough to just miss the playoffs. Either by one game, or they lose the tiebreaker. A draft position in the high-teens and no run at the playoffs. Sure they could go 1-and-done in the playoffs, but at least they made it and anything goes once you're in the playoffs.

Now, I don't agree with tanking for better draft positioning. If it gets to the point where the team is effectively out of the playoff hunt, then start playing everyone. Use it as an extended preseason to analyze the younger players. If they win, great, if they lose, oh well. Kind of take a page out of MLB and treat it as a September call-up period and start evaluating the young talent more in real game situations. Though with the current rate of injuries, the Chargers won't have to do anything differently to make sure every player on the team and Practice Squad get some play time.

How do you like that? We got all three editors in on the fray this week. Awesome. Now, I don't usually intervene with my opinion in these posts, but this is something I very much believe in, so here goes.

Patrick Green

I'm totally on board with the previously mentioned "last month of the season" method, where by you let the young guys play and forget about maximizing your chances to win games. However, why not start sooner? Can we all stop pretending this team is going anywhere this season? Maybe there is a slim chance, but it's not a realistic one. As Crean mentioned, the absolute worst thing a team can do is be mediocre. It's NFL purgatory. You're not good enough to compete for a championship and you're not bad enough to have a premium pick in the draft that has the potential to make you into a contender in a hurry. The Chargers should accept that they're rebuilding this year. If they continue to try to win and rebuild at the same time, they're going to find themselves in April settling for the fourth best player at a position for the second straight year.

Let's be clear: Nobody is advocating that the Chargers tell their players to purposely lose games. You shouldn't, of course, ever do that in the NFL. However, once again, why not let the young guys play over veterans that you might not keep past this year anyway? Why not opt to rest a guy who's a little dinged up instead of having him fight through it? Why not sign some of your practice squad guys instead of rushing out and signing a free agent veteran off the street to plug a hole? Why not let Marcus Gilchrist continue to be a wreck at strong safety? Here's my point: There are ways to do this without telling your players to give up on the season.

Alright, folks. That's all we have for you this week. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, tell us what you think in the comments and don't forget to vote below.

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