On Tuesday, the NFL owners approved the much-anticipated change to the league’s point-after-touchdown rule, with owners voting 30-2 to move the 1-point attempt to the 15-yard line and allow the defence to score on turnovers.
The move was made to add excitement to what has become an anticlimatic play. However, by leaving the 2-point conversion at the 2-yard line, the NFL did not go far enough and there is little reason to think there will be much of a change.
There are two huge reasons to think we won’t see decidedly more 2-point attempts during the 2015 season.
1. The maths still doesn’t favour going for two points.
The biggest argument for moving the 1-point kick back is to decrease the number of points a team is expected score over the long term by going for one as compared to going for two.
According to Dean Blandino, the NFL’s chief of officiating, teams make 93% of 33- or 34-yard field goals. Using that data, a team’s expected points would average out to 0.93 points per PAT over the long haul. However, it is not clear which seasons Blandino is using to reach the 93% figure.
In 2014, NFL kickers made 34 of 35 field goals (97.1%) when the line of scrimmage was the 15-yard line and they made 84 of 88 (95.5%) when the line of scrimmage was between the 14- and 16-yard lines. That translates to 0.96-0.97 expected points per extra point attempt.
And those numbers come from field goals. There are reasons to believe the rate will be even higher on PATs (teams won’t be rushed, the kicker can pick his spot between the hashmarks, etc.).
Therefore, even if we use Blandino’s number (0.93 expected points), at best it is about the same as the 2-point conversion (0.95 expected points). If we use 2014 data and consider the points the defence can now score, the expected points when going for one is still higher than going for two. This means that the 1-point try is still enough of an automatic kick that coaches will still go for one even if they were able to look long-term, which brings us to the second point …
2. In the moment, it is much safer to go for one point.
Even if there is an advantage to going for two points over the long haul (and it doesn’t look like it is), the NFL is the king of small sample sizes and things often don’t have enough time to “even out,” so to speak, especially over the course of a single game where a team may only score two or three touchdowns.
A team can be expected to make about half of the 2-point conversions, but that doesn’t mean a team will necessarily convert one if they attempt two. Sure, a team might score two now or maybe they will make two next time. But even with the longer 1-point PAT a coach can still be reasonably certain that he will get one point this time and one point next time, making it easier to make coaching decisions in the meantime.
In other words, it is easier to coach to the known than to the unknown.
This doesn’t mean we won’t see more 2-point conversions. Some coaches may have their own internal data that, depending on their offence and their kicker, the difference in expected points may be great enough and the coach may be aggressive enough to go for two more often than not.
I am looking at you Chip Kelly.
But for the majority of the NFL, it is still going to be business as usual.
NOW WATCH: How LeBron James spends his money
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.