5 NFL Teams That Should Tank the 2011 Season To Draft Andrew Luck
More than a few teams are hoping to have a chance to draft Andrew Luck.
After all, in 2010, Luck emerged as a top-notch college quarterback by leading his Stanford Cardinal to huge wins within the Pac-10. In leading his Stanford Cardinal to an Orange Bowl victory against Virginia Tech, Luck threw for four touchdown passes, as well as 287 yards with a 78.3 percent completion percentage, which would earn him the title of Orange Bowl MVP.
A second-team All-American and Heisman Trophy runner-up, Luck looked like he would be the quarterback most NFL-ready in the 2010 draft before surprising analysts and front-office personnel around the league by declaring he would remain at Stanford for his junior year in 2011.
Now that NFL teams know "the best college prospect since John Elway" will be available at the top of the 2012 draft, there is extra incentive to go after such a high-profile prospect.
Here are the top five teams that would be wise to put winning in 2011 aside for their franchise's long-term success:
5. Kansas City Chiefs
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Quite simply, the Chiefs may be the worst team in the NFL today.
After a 41-7 embarrassment to open the season in Buffalo, the Chiefs decided to give another historically-bad franchise their time in the spotlight, suffering a 41-10 loss in Detroit. Last year, Buffalo and Detroit combined to win 10 games—the same number of games the Chiefs managed to win by themselves.
To say the 2010 Chiefs, who won the AFC West, were a fluke is an insult to the word "fluke." KC got career highs out of QB Matt Cassel, WR Dwayne Bowe, RB Jammal Charles and TE Tony Moeaki, not to mention stellar support on the defensive side of the ball.
That kind of consistency has been nonexistent so far in 2011 and have led many to believe the true issue may lay with head coach Todd Haley. Haley, the fiery coach who once served as offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals during their Super Bowl run, clashed with Charlie Weis, who handled play-calling duties for the Chiefs' offense in 2010.
At the end of the season, Weis, who assisted the Patriots to three championships in the last decade, bolted Kansas City for the same position, offensive coordinator, at the University of Florida.
Since then, the Chiefs sustained major injuries to Charles and starting safety Eric Berry. Meanwhile, Cassel and Co. have been putrid on the offensive side of the ball, ranking 30th in the league in total offense despite playing from behind in both of their games, which should lend itself to a more up-tempo, aerial attack.
Let's be honest, the Chiefs are a mess. The only reason Kansas City is so high on this list is that they've already invested significant money in the quarterback position recently, signing Cassel to a $63 million deal in the summer of 2009.
So what could prevent the Chiefs from going down this path? Todd Haley's stay in Kansas City may be abruptly ended if the Chiefs don't start looking somewhat competitive. And soon.
4. Seattle Seahawks
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Former Pac-10 rival, Seattle head coach Pete Caroll would love to keep Luck on the West Coast, about 700 miles north of Stanford's Palo Alto campus.
Tavaris Jackson has had a decent season to this point but still has to go a long way to prove that he is a long-term solution for the Seahawks at the quarterback position. He's currently ranked 26th in passer rating, and Seattle hasn't even been close in either of the first two games. Once an up-and-comer before Brett Favre made his way to Minneapolis, the Seahawks will need Jackson to curtail his turnovers and increase his consistency before making a big commitment.
Jackson's backup, Charlie Whitehurst, once seemed to be destined to step into the starting quarterback role in 2010 but was unable to overcome incumbent starter Matt Hasselbeck and has since faded into limbo.
Bottom line, the Seahawks are still in rebuilding mode and trying to mold the team in Carroll's image, but they haven't quite got there yet. Even though they gave Jackson a two-year, $8 million contract in the offseason, the investment isn't large enough to scare off an attempt to go after Luck.
Expect to see them make a play.
3. Denver Broncos
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Denver fans are growing increasingly restless with the team's decision to continue with Kyle Orton at quarterback. Though his career statistics are decent, a 58 percent completion percentage and a 79 passer rating, Orton simply hasn't been able to get over the hump in Denver and has only been able to win six games since the Broncos went 6-0 to start the 2009 season.
Many fans, both in Denver and around the league, are clamoring to see Tim Tebow get more game action, but the truth is, he's just not good enough to supplant Orton. Nor is Brady Quinn, who the Broncos traded Peyton Hillis and a sixth-round pick to acquire shortly before the 2009 season.
With both Orton and Quinn's contracts expiring at the end of the year, it has become evident that Denver's quarterback situation is indeed untenable. There will be a major retooling needed at this position during the 2012 offseason for the Broncos to have a chance at being competitive next year.
The best-case scenario for the Broncos may be to give the fans what they want. If Tebow plays and wins games, the organization can then begin to build the team around him as the quarterback.
But, if he loses games and they determine he is not the team's quarterback of the future, which is clearly the way the front office and coaches are currently leaning, the Broncos will have the opportunity to draft Luck and experiment with Tebow at different positions over the two years still remaining on his contract.
2. Indianapolis Colts
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Peyton Manning's neck surgery, and subsequent failed return to the team have left the Colts in a rough spot for the 2011 season, but it could have made the franchise's future much brighter.
With only Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky behind Manning, the Colts decided that it was in their best interest to go after veteran quarterback Kerry Collins, who possesses a career 73.9 passer rating over a career that has spanned 5 teams.
Collins first start with the team ended in a 34-7 loss to division rival Houston, and Collins was the main culprit in Indy's demise, accounting for two lost fumbles which gave Houston such a big lead early on that he was able to pick up some decent stats during garbage time later in the game. In Week 2, Collins again played the role of saboteur, going 19-38 with an interception and turnover in Indianapolis' 19-27 loss to Cleveland.
If he continues to play like this it won't be much longer until Indianapolis is so far out of contention that the thought of bringing back Peyton Manning for the few games he may be able to play if his neck heals properly seems absurd. That would mean that Indianapolis could potentially lead to an Aaron Rodgers/Brett Favre situation in Indy, giving Luck the opportunity to learn for a year or two before Manning rides off into the sunset.
If, in what would seem a likely option for an aging quarterback with major neck problems, Manning decides that he can no longer play, the ability to get a quarterback of Luck's caliber becomes much more vital to the franchise's continued success.
1. Miami Dolphins
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Dolphins' quarterback Chad Henne shocked the NFL in Week 1, by piling up 416 yards, a 61 percent completion percentage and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots.
And, boy, what a difference a week makes.
Henne came back down to earth in Week 2 against Houston, going 12-of-30 for just 170 yards and averaging a paltry 5.67 yards per attempt. He is currently tied with Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for 26th in the NFL based on quarterback rating, and injuries to rookie running back Daniel Thomas have forced Reggie Bush into a every-down back role, which doesn't fit his skill set, further hindering Henne's abilities.
Remember, Dolphins' fans were actually booing Henne and chanting Kyle Orton's name during training camp. When your fans are hoping they can bring in a quarterback that's 4-11 over his last 15 starts to upgrade the position, isn't that a pretty good indicator that the franchise is in a bad situation?
And what's the situation behind Henne? Matt Moore, who threw for five touchdowns and 10 interceptions over six games in Carolina in 2009.
Luck would bring his prototypical quarterback size and Howitzer for an arm to South Beach and immediately become the starter. A possibility Dolphins fans should be drooling over, Luck could very well bring this franchise success and consistency at the position it hasn't seen since Dan Marino.
The best part about this plan for Miami? The Dolphins are so bad, no one will even realize they're not trying to win.