Should the NFL make extra points longer?

Ronald Martinez

The NFL Competition Committee is kicking around the idea. How much of a difference could it make?

The NFL Competition Committee has their wheels spinning again. This time, the topic being spit-balled is making extra point attempts longer. From NFL.com's Judy Battista:

According to one member, the committee's meetings this weekend included preliminary talks about placing the ball at the 25-yard line for the extra-point kick -- which would make it a 43-yard attempt -- rather than the 2-yard line, where it is currently placed.

This is something different from what we heard a month or so ago, when there was chatter -- straight from Commissioner Roger Goodell, nonetheless -- that consideration had been put into eliminating the extra point all together. One idea that Goodell noted was to make the point after automatic, giving the scoring team seven points as opposed to the standard six. The caveat being that the scoring team could make it eight points should they pass or rush into the end zone.

That was more of a lateral change as opposed to something truly progressive and game altering. Coaches would likely manage the game exactly as they have, going for two in instances where that eighth point is crucial, but not in scenarios where playing it safe and walking away with seven is logical.

This new suggestion, though? I'm a little on the fence with the change, but have to admit that it's a nifty idea if making coaches think and not giving anything away for free is the goal.

There are potentially unintentional negative ramifications with regards to player safety. Longer point after tries for teams with non-automatic type kickers means extra plays on the field for the defense. One of the main reason that the NFL may opt to get rid of the current PAT -- players don't put a ton of effort into blocking them -- could lead to another opportunity for injury in a standard defensive scheme.

Now, realistically, we're probably talking about a small handful of extra plays. San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson, for example, attempted 44 extra points in 2013. He's a pretty accurate kicker from distance, so how many of those would become a two-point play due to weather conditions where Jim Harbaugh decides not to test it? More than 15 or 20? If the current structure sees an average of four to six of two point conversion attempts, maybe the total amount would start to pile up with the new rule. With Dawson's leg, though, how many more would there really be?

Then again, what if it ends up being far more plays than we might think? Tony Manfred of Business Insider makes a compelling case as to why the frequency of teams going for two would sky-rocket.

NFL kickers make 43-yard field goals 78.3% of the time, so the expected value of a 43-yard extra point is 0.783 points.

NFL teams convert 2-point conversions 50.5% of the time, so the expected value of going for two is 1.009 points.

This is a radical shift from the current scoring system.

I don't know if coaches will be completely thinking the same way that Manfred is, but he does make good points in the piece. So, we could probably assume that there would be at least a moderate uptick in teams going for two when you couple pedestrian kickers, weather conditions and the increased value in going for two.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm not horribly sure how much of a difference this will make. The NFL is very trendy, so if a team or two has a bunch of success going for two all the time, I gather the rest of the league will follow suit. Maybe that's what the NFL wants, but I'm not sure what it solves other than adding a few extra plays with some excitement value to a game, and putting players at even more risk of injury.

There are some things about the game of football that could be fine tuned for all involved. I just don't know that this is an area where tinkering is necessary or would create much in the way of positive change to the game.

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