Aiming for High Draft Picks Through Poor Performance Is a Loser’s Game

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

What’s worse for the next two years? The Bears stink and Justin Fields plays poorly and they get a top-three pick or Fields does great, the Bears win six to eight games and a first-round pick next year between 15 and 17? I feel like both are lose/lose. — @nieldan20112581

No one said digging out of the current predicament would be easy. This is certainly a glass-half-empty outlook at the near future. I don’t think the Bears will be great in 2022 by any stretch, but they’ll have to be especially poor — with what appears to be a much easier schedule than the 2021 slate — to have a top-three pick. If they’re that bad, quarterback play will be a major problem, the defense will be significantly worse and injuries likely will be a huge issue. If Fields “does great,” there’s no way that’s a lose/lose for the team. That would mean the Bears have taken a massive step toward solving their long-standing quarterback dilemma. That’s the biggest issue they face, and there are a lot of questions for Fields and the offense in 2022 because he struggled as a rookie. I guess your sweet spot is Fields plays well and the Bears have a lousy record and get a high pick in the 2023 draft. If you’re rooting for the team, you have to want the quarterback to play as well as he can. If that means a middle-of-the-pack pick in 2023, great. It beats the alternative of Fields playing poorly and quarterback being a huge issue again at this time next year.

I have always thought that fans who believe in losing to get higher draft picks are barking up the wrong tree. As a fan of a team, I think you should always root for the team to win.

This perception that your team is going to be much better because they’re drafting higher is simply not correct. Time and again its been shown that tanking doesn’t work. The Miami Dolphins didn’t go to the playoffs last year. The Browns tore their team apart for multiple years to lose and to attain more, higher draft picks. they are hardly world beaters.

If you are a bad organization, tanking won’t help you. You’ll blow the picks and fail to develop your players no matter where you drat them. On the other hand, if you are a good organization, you don’t have to tank. You’ll find good players no matter where you draft.

I think we can all hope that the Bears win as many games as possible this year and, more importantly, they turn out to be the kind of organization under the new leadership that can find and develop players without feeling that they need to improve their draft position by losing. On the other hand, if they do feel that is the way to build a team then I will consider it to be a very bad sign.

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