There is a fundamental misunderstanding about what tanking is. There are so many ignorant opinions on the matter, even in this thread. No player ever has been like - you know what, I'm not gonna play hard so my team can get a higher pick next year... you know... a pick that might take MY spot so I can be out of the league... No one ever has had that kind of attitude. And tanking still happens. Tanking is done on management level, NOT on players and coaches level. Players try to win, usually to the best of their abilities... just with tanking teams the management sets up the team so it cannot succeed or sets goals that are not tied to winning(developing young players).
- management doesn't get a competent QB on the field or waits until 1 week before the start of the season to get a QB who will need months to get the full playbook.
- management doesn't rush back injured players. Let them heal to 100%. Never put someone on the field who is injured but can play... you know ... the way Luck played all of last year but didn't practice most of the year because he wasn't 100%.
- stack the team with young players and get rid off vets who can win you games by experience but are not part of the long-term future of the team
- look towards the future. Make all moves with the priority towards the future rather than this season - develop young players and rookies for the future by playing them a ton even if they are not the best way to win games right now. Cut the old experienced punter and long snapper and put in rookies at their spots. Prepare for Vinatieri's retirement. Try to secure the long-term backup QB.
- run experiments. A ton of them... you want a new O-Line configuration for training camp? Sure, why not... Oh, how about for first game of the season.. you know one that has never been on the field together before? Sure, what can go wrong?
A team can tank without the players ever thinking about not performing to the best of their abilities. They can play their butts off and still not have enough firepower offensively or defensive resistance to win games.
I absolutely agree with the opinion that this year is a perfect year for tank. If we somehow manage to get a no.1 pick, there are enough teams that are QB hungry that Ballard can set up the team with amazing multiple assets(multiple firsts, seconds, third rounders) to improve a team that needs improvement at multiple positions both on O and D.