Extra points are broken, and nearly everyone in football agrees. Last year, according to Peter King in today's MMQB, 30 of 32 NFL teams polled agreed that the PAT has to change. And per King, a framework for changes appears to have emerged during last week's league meetings.
Though the proposals were reportedly "all over the map," King calls the following "the most likely way" the league will enact change.
- Teams will have a choice whether to go for one or two points after a touchdown, from different distances.
- If the offensive team chooses to kick for one point, the scrimmage line will move from the 2-yard-line to the 15-yard line, making it a 32- or 33-yard attempt.
- If the offensive team chooses to go for two points, the scrimmage line will be either the 1-and-a half- or 2-yard line. There was much debate about making it the 1, the 1-and-a-half or the 2. The feeling about putting it on the 1 was that it could turn into too much of a scrum/push-the-pile play, or a fluky puncture-the-goal-line-with-the-ball-and-bring-it-back play by the quarterback. Putting it at the 1-and-a-half or leaving it at the 2 would increase the chances of a real football play with some drama.
- The defensive team would be able to score two points by either blocking the PAT and returning it downfield to the end zone, or by intercepting the two-point attempt and running it back, or recovering a fumble on the two-point play and returning it all the way.
Probably because this plan would be a compromise, it's not a major change from what we have now: just some tweaks to the line of scrimmage to goose the risk-reward calculus. If the two-point conversion does line up from a full or a half-yard closer to the end zone, it becomes a higher percentage play—and perhaps make coaches more likely to go for it.
(Having the kick and the two-point conversion line up from different spots does take away one option: the fake. The element of surprise isn't enough to justify calling for the holder to throw up a 15-yard pass.)
Going for two becomes even more appealing when combined with a slightly more difficult PAT kick. Expect kickers to convert a 32-yard kick slightly better than 90 percent of the time, compared with the 99.6 percent success PATs currently enjoy. Here's the historical chart:
I'd prefer something even more difficult. Let's make 'em nail a 40-yarder, really make that extra point a bonus instead of a gimme. I'd surmise a good number of NFL teams want to go that route too. But when you're got 30 franchises seeking new rules, and 30 different proposals to make it happen, it's not a surprise that the only change that can be agreed on is an incremental one.