As expected, the NFL tweaked their rules regarding point after touchdown (PAT) attempts for the 2015 season. In a 30-2 landslide vote, the NFL owner’s approved the proposal submitted by the Competition Committee designed to make extra point kicks more difficult while also keeping the two point conversion option in place. For the record, the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders were the two teams that voted against the change. Here is a basic rundown on the NFL’s new PAT rules:
- Extra point kick attempts will now be from the 15-yard line, meaning the kick is now a 33-yard field goal.
- Two-point conversions are still an option and will continue to be attempted from the two-yard line.
- Defenses can now return blocked extra points and interceptions/fumbles on two-point conversions attempts. If they reach the other team’s end zone, they will be awarded two points.
There is no doubting that these rules changes will have a noticeable impact on the game. How much of an influence they have on the game plans of teams around the league remains to be seen, however. We’re guessing that we’ll see a massive spike in the total number of two-point conversion attempts around the league. On top of that, we quite possibly could even see some teams that opt to go for two on nearly every one of their PAT attempts in 2015. As a result, players such as Tim Tebow, who excel in the red zone, and more specifically near the goalline, just got a lot more valuable. With that said, will the new rules have a similar effect on the value of having a placekickers around the league?
In total, NFL kickers missed only eight extra points out of the 1,230 attempts during the entire 2014 NFL season, which was good for just over a 99-percent success rate. For comparisons sake, we turned to data compiled by Pro Football Focus and found that during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, NFL kickers converted on 97.6-percent of their field goal attempts from the center of the field from 30-35 yards out. Those numbers suggest to us that there will be very little change in the success rates of PAT kicks even by moving them back to the 15-yard line. Where things could potentially get interesting is during a cold, windy game in November or December and kicking an extra point. As Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter put it, a 33-yard in winter weather conditions is no “gimmie.”
The new rules have been also been met with a fair amount of criticism. Kickers around the league contend that the longer kick will still be converted at an incredibly high rate. Others point again to the hypocritical nature of the NFL. Since PAT attempts are now “live,” defensive players will be far more inclined than before to sell out, which ups their chances of suffering a serious injury.
Only time will tell what kind of effect the new rules will have on the NFL as a whole, but what we do know is that they will change the way that teams approach their point after touchdown attempts during the 2015 season.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.