Excellent post. Thank you for your work on this and I agree completely. I believe Reggie Wayne was in on it too. The game that convinced me is the one where they had a chance to win and he threw the ball on the ground untouched. It made my jaw drop that they could be so blantant about it. Of course Reggie got a new contract with the Colts too.They did tank, but not in the way most people are thinking.
The only players you are going to get to fall in line with an order to tank would possibly be established vets who have a contract in place or a nod from the organization that their play in the season in question will not effect their pay on their next contract. Basically, its almost nobody. Maybe Freeney.
Players are out there trying to earn a living. Their play is on film. They are going to try their best. They cant just trust an organization to take care of them. Also, they put themselves at risk for injury if they arent playing the game right. So the idea that it was a team wide conspiracy to tank is total bull****. HOWEVER............
There was definately a plan within the organization to tank that season once Peyton Manning was injured and couldnt start the season. Here are the steps........
1) Peyton Manning was not allowed to take the field. There is no doubt in my mind Peyton could have played towards the end of last season, probably even the entire 2nd half or more. Over playing his injury and the team convincing him that he would be putting himself at risk was part of the plan to suck for Luck. If Manning plays, they win games.
2) Playing a completely inept QB over a guy who was somewhat capable of getting something done. These 2 were the real key. Curtis Painter had no business in an NFL uniform, much less starting games. Everyone knew this. The guy they had on the bench(Orlovski of whatever his name was) was much more capable of winning. Thats why he didnt get in the game. That guy was a legit backup NFL QB, so he sat while they rolled out Painter.
3) Keeping a total bewb in there to manage the games. Jim Caldwell was completely clueless. This was known for years, but when they had Manning in there, everyone knew Manning managed the games so the HC wasnt much of a factor. Once Manning went down, Caldwell was in charge.
QB play is so important, that those simple steps alone were a recipe to lose almost every game on a roster that wasnt exactly great. True, if they had a good QB they are a winning team, but Painter was so bad their offense had no shot.
Now, whether or not a couple of vets were in on the plan is debateable. I kind of doubt it. The one thing they can do is not play certain guys. If a player were in on it, he could simply not play due to "injury" and get himself a season of rest. There are very few players who would be willing to do this and it would take a special circumstance.
The one thing you could go back and check is if they shed some of their veteran players off the roster. I think they did.
If you take those steps above, its a recipe for sucking for Luck. Its never a guarantee, but it give you a great shot.
Having said all of that, take a look at what the Panthers did the previous season. I called that one from the start of the season. There is no question in my mind they sucked for Luck. Problem is, their plan back fired on them as Luck did not come out. I know they didnt suck for Newton. Right now they suck with Newton.
But, look at what the Panthers did before that season. They completely stripped their roster of key veteran players by cutting most of them and trading the ones that could get them anything back. They rolled out a completely lame duck HC who none of the players would respect because they all knew he was getting fired at seasons end. It was an organizational plan to tank the season. They set it up to where they knew no matter how hard the players played, they werent going to win. Simple as that.
Now, could the phins have sucked for Luck last year? You bet your ass they couldve made a solid run at it if they tried. However, they obviously didnt. They definately had the pieces in place to give it a run though.
1) They couldve left Sparano at HC. I seriously thought this mightve been the plan when they brought him back. Sparano was clueless. He could definately botch games while trying to win. Despite the extention, everyone on the team knew he was on his way out and it was a big factor in them losing early in the year. I think its obvious from some of the statements from players coming out that the players did not respect him.
But, if they really wanted to suck for Luck, they should not have extended him. They shouldve just let him coach while on that last year of the contract and make it totally obvious he was a lame duck. This wouldve been bad for the team, which of course means good if you get Luck out of it.
2) They shouldve kept Henne in at QB. Henne was terrible. Now, he wasnt quite as bad as Painter, but he was certainly capable of losing every game. He was not good thats for sure. He was good at keeping our offense out of the endzone.
3) They shouldve never signed Matt Moore. A capable backup was the last nail in the coffin for not getting Luck. The last thing you ever want to do is play a QB who is capable of winning games. Firing Sparano and playing Moore gave us no shot to suck for Luck. We were going to win games with Sparano and Henne out of the way. Had we rolled into the season with a terrible backup, we couldve justified playing him over Henne at any point and being even worse. Henne/Devlin wouldve been a recipe for success....... sucking for Luck.
4) Just keeping Sparano and rolling with Henne/Devlin wouldve likely gotten the job done or at least given us an outstanding shot at 1-15 or 0-16. But, this last step was something the phins couldve definately done.............
We needed to do what Carolina did and strip our roster of good veteran players who could make plays. If we had done this, there is no question we couldve gotten Luck. Instead we added guys like Reggie Bush who could make plays.
All the pieces were in place for us to do it, but I will tell you why we didnt. Because Ireland wouldve never survived a horrible season like that. For him to come full circle from the 1-15 disaster he took over wouldve been the end of him. The only way we couldve done it wouldve been for the plan to come straight from Ross. Ross wouldve had to instruct Ireland to put the plan in place to suck for Luck and ASSURE him that despite the **** storm that wouldve been coming from the fans and media for his job in the offseason, that he wouldve kept his job as GM.
I suppose Ireland couldve gone to Ross with a suck for Luck plan, but if he does that he cant be assured that Ross wouldnt back stab him and fire him at seasons end. The order had to come from Ross. Im sure Ireland may have thought about it and wanted to do it, but there is no way he can take that idea to his boss. His boss had to come to him with it. I just dont see Ross being that football smart to think of it.
After all of this, what is so stupid is that we had already gone 1-15 once and been in place to take an elite QB with pick #1. We inadvertantly sucked for Matty Ice and Parcells' dumbass was too stupid to take him.