Despite all of the talk about DeflateGate and all of the punishments and appeals, there is still some league news that is being made about on-the-field matters. On Tuesday, the NFL announced that there will be a new setup for the extra point as 30 of the 32 teams in the league voted to implement the new rules for the 2015 season which begins in a little less than three months.
In a proposal offered by the NFL Competition Committee, teams that score a touchdown will still have the option to either go for two points or kick an extra point. What changed is the extra point kick will start at the 15-yard line, which equates to about a 33-yard attempt. If a team wants to go for the two point conversion, they will still be lined up at the two yard line, despite some talk about possibly moving it down to the one.
Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that defensive teams can now return a blocked kick, an interception or a fumble for a chance at two points. Many of the owners feel that this will result in a better product as there is some benefit for the defense besides just stopping a point or two from being added onto the score. Another aspect of the rule will allow teams to change between the two options of extra points in case of a penalty or a time out.
There are some who feel that this change is not a good one for the league. The Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins were the only two teams that did not vote for the change and there has been some negative feedback from the kickers.
However, the kickers aren’t complaining about the fact that they have to kick a longer field goal though, they are concerned it will lead to more injuries and the league is being hypocritical for putting players in this situation. While there have been some injuries to linemen and the occasional tight end (Rob Gronkowski in 2012 for example) any play in football can result in injury. That’s the nature of the game.
This is a good start to what has become an afterthought as most teams just line up and kick the extra point. This will put a little more strategy and planning on the shoulders of the coach as they will have to take into consideration factors like weather and field condition. Before it didn’t really matter how bad the field was, most people would be able to kick it in from within 20 yards, but now that’s not the case.
Depending on how it turns out this season, don’t be surprised if the ball gets pushed back a little more as the success rate from 33 yards is still pretty high. In 2014, 41 field goal attempts were made from 33 yards and only two missed. Kickers today are much stronger and more accurate than they have been in the past, so it would make sense that the league starts out small and sees how it goes from there. The league experimented with small goal posts at the Pro Bowl, but that did not go over very well.
Ever since the 2010 season, PAT kicks succeed more than 99% of the time so it was only logical that a change would be made. Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith noted that the extra point, “was almost a ceremonial play.” This was the feeling from most of the NFL owners and most likely the fans felt the same way. The NFL has been looking for ways to increase the scoring and this was one of the easiest ways to try.
The hope is that more teams will go for the two points as teams after teams only tried 59 times last season. Out of those attempts, only 29 of them succeeded. That number should skyrocket as there are a number of teams who have the players on their team to run in a two yard score or do a play action quick pass. Once one or two teams start capitalizing on it, people will see more attempts to keep the scoring close.
At the end of the day, the owners are going to try everything in their power to increase scoring and bring more action in the game. It would not be surprising if after a couple of seasons the league looks to move the two point conversion up to the one yard line or move the kick back. No matter what the league decides, the fact that the kick has been moved back is a start and should make for some interesting football this year.