One of the worst kept secrets in the NFL, at least when it comes to watching the game, is how lame the extra point after a touchdown is. Sure, in theory, a kicker could miss a deciding point, and games could be won and lost on the margin of error that comes from turning a drive into a seven-point journey, rather than a six. In practice, though, kickers at the professional level are so good that they hardly ever miss, and so there’s never any drama, just fluky misses once in a blue moon. Needless to say, the league as a whole wants to adjust this.
Pete Carrol, coach of the Seattle Seahawks and play-caller who cost his team a win at the Super Bowl by refusing to call a run play for his dominant running back, had this idea, which he posited to Twitter (formatted for clarity): [A team scores an] Automatic 7pts for a TD [followed by] a mandatory try from the 2 for 1pt, [during which] the defense can score 1pt by returning a fumble or INT.” This is one way of thinking about adjusting the play, but it’s not the only one.
You’ll note that Carrol’s model completely removes the kicker from the extra point equation. This could be because Seattle’s head coach doesn’t trust his players, or it could be just a benign oversight. Regardless, the Carrol Method is not the only one being weighed by the ownership. Per the AP, we know that the options include “moving the line of scrimmage back for PAT kicks; placing the ball on the 1½-yard line for a 2-point conversion; eliminating the PAT kicks entirely and requiring teams to run a play from scrimmage [note: this is basically Carrol’s plan]; and allowing the defense to score, as in college football, if the ball is turned over on a 2-point try.”
Let’s break those down in order, but first we should address the one point everyone seems to agree upon: allowing the defense to score.
Defense is an important part of the NFL equation. This seems like something that doesn’t need to be said, but part of what makes a defense so important is their ability to take a possession that started with the other team’s offense and turn it into points on the board for their team. That’s not to diminish how helpful it is to keep the other team from scoring, but the threat of having everything go horribly wrong (for the offense) is essential to a defensive identity. Right now, there’s no way for the defense to put any points on the board during a PAT. If nothing else, that will probably be adjusted. Look for a one- or two-point possibility for interceptions and pick-sixes during the PAT.
As far as moving the kicking spot further away, they talked about it last year to no avail. Placing the two-point attempt on the one-and-a-half yard line is pretty cool — far enough away that a QB sneak is unlikely, close enough that a team could see the easy benefits — and if the league is serious about adopting a change in position, we’d expect the defensive scoring and the close two-point attempt to be what actually makes it to the field.
Whatever changes are coming down the pipeline, we’re positive that they’ll receive some run in the preseason first, so keep your eyes peeled for anything that doesn’t look right when the NFL finally starts to wake up from its summer hibernation.