NFL teams appear to be heading towards a compromise that would represent a radical change to one of the most basic concepts in football, the extra point, according to Peter King of SI.com.
Thirty of the 32 NFL teams want to change the extra-point play, which was converted 99.3% of the time in 2014 and is considered too automatic. However, up until now, teams have been unable to agree on how to change the rule. Twenty-four teams have to vote “yes” for the any rule change to pass.
One competition committee member told King that they need to find a compromise in order to get the rule changed, and King reports one settlement has emerged as the most likely to be passed and implemented for the 2015 season.
This is how the point after touchdown would work under the compromise (via King):
- If a team chooses to go for 1 point, the line of scrimmage will be moved back to the 15-yard line, creating what would essentially be a 32- or 33-yard field goal for a single point.
- If a team chooses to go for 2 points, the line of scrimmage will either be kept at the 2-yard line or moved up to the 1- or 1.5-yard line (King says the yard line has faced “much debate” with some feeling going all the way to the 1-yard line would produce more of “scrum/push-the-pile play, or a fluky puncture-the-goal-line-with-the-ball-and-bring-it-back play” as opposed to a normal football play).
- The defence would be awarded 2 points if they return a blocked extra point or turnover all the way to the other end zone (this mimics a rule already in the college game).
Of course, the big unknown is just how much any of this would change how coaches approach the extra-point play. In short, it all depends on where the NFL decides to place the ball on a 2-point conversion.
If the NFL moved the ball up to the 1-yard line for 2-point attempts, teams would go for 2 much, much more often.
In 2014, NFL teams converted 99.3% of extra-point kicks and 47.5% of 2-point attempts. At those rates, NFL teams would expect to gain 0.99 points for every 1-point attempt and 0.95 points for every 2-point attempt. So it makes sense that coaches only go for two when it is absolutely necessary.
However, NFL teams scored touchdowns 57.5% of the time from the 1-yard line in 2014. If the same rate applied on 2-point conversions — and there are reasons to think it would actually be a little higher (e.g. teams would be less rushed, the ball could be placed on the ideal hash-mark, and they could pick their most effective play since there are no other downs) — teams would expect to gain 1.15 points for every 2-point attempt.
In other words, teams would be expected to score significantly more points from the 2-point conversion if it were from the 1-yard line.
If the NFL were to keep the 2-point attempt at the 2-yard line, teams would still almost exclusively attempt the 1-point extra point.
Moving the 1-point kick back to the 15-yard line does very little to the difficulty of the kick.
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 in 2014.
That makes the expected points for 1-pointers (0.97 points per attempt) and 2-points (0.95 points) a little closer, but it is still in favour of the 1-point attempt.
Now consider that teams only went for a touchdown five times all season when it was 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, even though the expected points are higher if you go for a touchdown there than if you kick a field goal. In other words, coaches will still kick the 1-point extra point unless they feel they need 2 points.
Simply moving back the extra point to the 15-yard line wouldn’t lead to significantly more 2-point attempts.
Moving the 2-point conversion to the 1.5-yard line is the compromise that adds the most intrigue.
This is where things will get interesting, at least at the start.
We don’t know how often teams would convert a 2-point play from the 1.5-yard line, only that presumably it would somewhere between 47.5% and 57.5%.
The 1.5-yard line is where strategy and coaching style will outweigh the numbers.
This is the range where the benefit of going for two will likely outweigh the 1-point conversion just enough to where aggressive coaches will go for it most of the time and conservative coaches will kick it most of the time. It stands to reason that there will be more 2-point attempts overall, but it will be a tough decision on a case-by-case basis.
The 1.5-yard line is the spot that will create debate and second-guessing. Ultimately, that’s what both the NFL and the fans want.
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