The NFL will use computer chips placed inside kicked balls to see if they should make field goal uprights more narrow, according to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun.
The idea here would be to figure out where kicked balls go into uprights most often so as to accurately determine how much the league should move the uprights in. So, instead of saying “Hey! Let’s guess-timate and moving the uprights in one foot,” they can have actual data to back up their decision.
According to the Sun report, “Over the past three seasons, NFL placekickers have been more accurate than ever on field goals, making 85%.” This obviously gives the league a reason to at least look into decreasing the long-standing width of 18 feet, 6 inches.
The league has experimented with this before, but they have discovered that moving them in too much would be a problem. The league experimented with a 14-foot distance at the January 2015 Pro Bowl, and Adam Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal, and two 35-yard extra points were also missed on the night. Obviously, the drastic narrowing of the uprights isn’t something that would work, so a more educated, data-based approach is more appropriate.
No matter what, any permanent change wouldn’t be made for the upcoming regular season, but the fact that the NFL will definitely be looking at this stuff during preseason games means a change has a good chance of happening in the future.
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