NFL

NFL AM: Extra Point No Longer A Chip Shot

on

The NFL has long been teasing changes to its extra point procedure and on Tuesday those changes finally arrived.

At the NFL’s Sprint League Meeting, owners voted by a 30-2 majority to approve a new rule from the competition committee that will push extra points back. The only two teams to vote against the change were the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins.

According to the new rule, the ball will now be snapped from the 15-yard line for an extra point, making it the equivalent to a 33-yard field goal. However, if a team elects to go for a two-point conversion, the ball will still be snapped from the two-yard-line.

Additionally, the rule change will allow the defense to score points on the PAT for the first time. If the extra point is blocked or a turnover is forced on a two-point conversion, the ball will be live and the defense will be able to score two points by returning it for a touchdown. Previously, the ball was ruled dead as soon as a defensive player handled it.

“We tried to add some skill to the play, which is the reason why we moved it back to the 15,” said Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith. “And then the other element is how do we create a more exciting play? And so to give the defense an opportunity to score, it adds an element there, as well as obviously incentivizing teams to go for two.”

It remains to be seen just how much that incentive prompts teams to take the risk.

According to a study by the league, placekickers have enjoyed an almost automatic 98-99 percent success rate on extra points over the last 15 seasons. But extra point success should not go down dramatically based on the league’s rate of completion on field goals of 33 yards.

Last year, NFL kickers connected on 39-of-41 field goals from that distance and over the past five seasons, kickers have missed just 12 of the 166 tries from 33 yards, a 92.8 percent rate of success. Most NFL kickers polled on the subject were on board with the decision, with many pointing to the added value it puts on quality placekickers.

“I think the idea is to add excitement to every single play, but really what it does is make every kicker’s job a little bit harder,” said Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. “The guys that do well with it, it increases their value. Guys that are good kickers will find a way to adjust and get the job done. And that’s what I plan on doing.”

The change does have some detractors in the kicking community. Denver Broncos kicker Connor Barth told the Denver Post that he simply doesn’t see the point.

“Narrowing the uprights would make it a lot more challenging than moving the extra point. Most guys can hit 33-yarders in their sleep,” he said. “It’ll probably change the percentages a little bit, but we’re all pretty good kickers…I think they’re just trying to find something to change.” 

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely had an even bigger problem with the change, which he believes exposes players to further injury.

Feely’s point is a strong one. Hasn’t the NFL’s policy over the last several seasons been to improve player safety? Isn’t that why the rules for kickoffs changed? This rule change flies in the face of those player safety stances taken by the league. 

The competition committee is hoping this change will spur teams to go for two more to make the game more exciting, but it won’t. At least not enough to make more than a negligible difference. The difference in converted PAT will be negligible too. But all it will take is one season-ending injury to an offensive lineman or defensive player for the real impact of the change to be seen, and it won’t be a positive for the league.

PATS WON’T APPEAL DEFLATEGATE PENALTY

After days of posturing about his team’s innocence in the wake of the punishment handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell for deflate-gate, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft used the NFL’s annual spring meeting as a forum to mend fences with the league. 

Kraft announced on Tuesday that the Patriots will accept their discipline without appeal.

“Although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the commissioner and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the full 32,” Kraft said. “In that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the past four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric and we won’t appeal.” 

An investigation stemming from the AFC Championship game by Ted Wells yielded a 243-page report that determined it was “more probable than not” that Patriots officials, were involved in the deflation of footballs to circumvent the rules. 

One week after the release of the Wells Report, Goodell dished out massive punishments, including a $1 million fine for the Patriots, the loss of their first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and a fourth rounder in 2017. New England quarterback Tom Brady was also suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, a punishment that his is appealing individually with the help of the NFLPA.

But while the the franchise supports Brady, and Kraft reiterated his feelings that the punishment was both unprecedented and unreasonable, he noted that is was in the best interest of the league for all involved parties to move on as soon as possible.

“At no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32,” he said.

The decision by the Patriots to some degree leaves Brady out on an island to defend himself. But despite the insistence of the NFLPA’s George Atallah that New England’s decision will have no impact on the case of the players association, one has to wonder, given the nature of the relationship between Kraft and Goodell whether Kraft’s sudden decision to stop talking about the incident is part of a larger agreement to get Brady’s suspension reduced. After all, it is Goodell himself who will hear Brady’s appeal in June.

The commissioner has a chance to take a stand here and hold firm to his punishment. If he doesn’t and instead reduces Brady’s suspension, we’ll know who’s really in charge.

RAIDERS QB CARR MAY REQUIRE SURGERY ON FINGER INJURY

After a strong rookie season in 2014, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was expected to take a step up in his sophomore season for Oakland to have any chance at success. But first, he’ll have to overcome a setback.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Tuesday that Carr has suffered an injury to the ring finger on his throwing hand that may require surgery.

In his first year in the NFL last season, Carr started all 16 games and though he led the Raiders to a 3-13 record, his performance improved notably as the year went on and after an 0-10 start, all three of those wins came in the final six weeks of the season.

Carr’s season stats were somewhat gaudy for a rookie, related to the fact that he threw the seventh most passes in the league (599). He completed 58.1 percent of those throws and compiled 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. His numbers were best in the month of December, when he pushed Oakland to a 2-2 finish with 848 yards and seven touchdowns to just one interception, despite completing just 54 percent of his throws.

It’s unclear when Carr suffered the finger injury, but Mortensen reported that the quarterback has experienced “numbness in the finger” this offseason, which could be related to a nerve issue. The Raiders are currently attempting to help Carr overcome the issue through rehab, with surgery being an option should the condition not improve.

The injury forced the second-year signal caller to miss the start of Raiders OTA on Tuesday and is could linger into mini-camp, which begins on June 9th for the Raiders. But Mortensen’s sources indicated the team is not overly concerned with the injury and expects Carr to be ready to go for training camp. Backup Christian Ponder is serving as Oakland’s first team quarterback in the interim.

“Time missed in May is better than time missing in September,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told reporters. “You’re often more capable of taking whatever time is necessary to make sure you put things behind you.”


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys