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It's right there. In the name of the frickin' sport.

A modest humble conceited proposal to help football people fix the foot-related part of the game.


You have wandered into a draft-free zone. A salary-cap-free zone. Go to the other threads if you want to smoke what they're peddling.

Today, right here, we talk about feet.

Foot ball players make foot ball plays

Kickers have taken the drama out of the PAT. Those jerks!

2003-06 2007-10 2011 2012 2013
Missed XP 13.5 (avg.) 12.5 (avg.) 7 6 5 (99.6%)

If a play is successful 99.5 percent of the time, it doesn't belong in the game, right? Ehh. It can have a place, maybe -- but only if a similar play with twice the reward exists, something on which you can earn twice the points, at twice the risk. That's when a real choice exists for coaches: claim a certain single point, or hunt for an uncertain two?

That balance, or something close to it, currently does exist in the National Football League, Take the 99-plus kick percentage from above and balance it against a 47 percent success rate on two-point conversions. Coaches have a real decision to make after a TD right now. We could leave well enough alone.

And yet, people have been talking of using this offseason to mess with PAT's. Why? Because a play that can only end in disappointment seems out of place in sports. And it's boring. And it's anticlimactic. And it's an opportunity for viewers to step away from the TV. (That last sentence means something, I think.)

Pair the above drawbacks with this table...

2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2013
# of K > 90 percent accuracy 3 4 7 7 9 11
# of K > 88 percent accuracy 4 9 10 10 13 18
Overall NFL K accuracy 79.0 77.8 81.6 81.8 83.3 86.5

...and your reward is my thesis: kicking in general has become too damn predictable; the whole thing needs an overhaul, not just the one-pointer.

If reform is as inevitable as the stats make it look, how about we don't settle for just putting some corrective braces on the kicking game, and instead, we install a couple of fangs?

First Fang: Inject more risk

1. First, calibrate the kick so that approximately 80 percent of conversions are successful. More drama is achieved! Kicks are no longer automatic. There is now a reason to watch the PAT.

2. Then, select a yard-line from which teams can be expected to convert 40 percent of the time on a pass or run. If we're making it 47 percent of the time from the 2, then the 3-yard-line seems like a good start. Make that the new two-pointer.

In this way, the league keeps coaches straddling the fence -- should they go for two, or not, in a competitive game? And coaches are not rewarded for just switching en masse to the two-point conversion. Unless they have an effective signature play (PERCY HARVIN FLY SWEEP OR FAKE) that places a particular burden on the defense.

The most boringest way to calibrate the kick to an 80 percent rate is to back it up a few yards. A colorless, odorless proposal exists that pushes the PAT back to the 42-yard line. Of course, that's the idea currently being floated by the same league that brought you a 15-yard penalty for spinning the ball. Yawn, Roger, yawn.

A bester solution would be to mess with both the angle and the distance of the kick. In rugby, extra points are earned by kicking the ball through the goalposts, a procedure which sounds vaguely familiar. The thing is, where the touchdown rugby try was converted determines the placement of the ball. A score that occurs in the right corner of the end zone requires an extra two-point kick that looks something like


For American football, you could use the existing hashes as demarcations. A TD scored outside the hashes would result in a PAT attempt from halfway between the hash mark and the sideline. One scored between the hashes could be kicked from anywhere the kicker chooses. All at a distance of 30 yards.

I predict that a success rate on angled kicks, from farther away, will approach 80 percent. I also predict people would watch this play.

Safety tradeoff: to counteract the extra hitting and tackling that could take place in the end zone as players aim to score more often in the middle of the field, defenses would no longer be allowed to block the kick. The kicker would still have to observe the play clock or forfeit the kick.

There's a problem, however, with making extra points harder to come by -- it might cut down on scoring in general. A season with 35/35 XP and 5/10 2-point conversions would become a season with 28/35 XP and 4/10 2-point tries. Nine fewer points, for a typical team, over a season. Which would mean a loss of .56 points per team per game, or 1.13 fewer points scored in each game, total.

Most people don't know this little fact: Roger Goodell is actually paid by the point. So to pacify the commissioner's office, here comes the second part of my reform. Conveniently, it offsets the unacceptable decrease in scoring while adding more drama.

Second Fang: Punish short field goals and reward long ones

The nitty-gritty:

1. Kicks attempted from strictly fewer than 40 yards are now worth 2 points;

2. Kicks attempted from 40-55 yards are now worth 3 points;

3. Kicks attempted from strictly greater than 55 yards become worth 4 points.

Some important corollaries must be added.

A) Long snaps will not be permitted to exceed nine yards. Yes, I'm looking directly at you, Bill Belichick, when I specify such a rule. No, you may not snap the ball backwards 20 yards to create a four-point try. Stop thinking about it, right now.

B) The defense will have the opportunity to decline the result of a third-down play if it knocks the opponent backward into a more fruitful FG try. The coach on defense will be given the choice between awarding the offensive team no gain or accepting the result of the play. So, no taking an intentional 10-yard sack out of bounds if you're down by four points in the final minute. Sorry, Seneca.

"You said something about a scoring increase"

Here's how scoring rises as a result of  tinkering with the FG values: coaches will claim the free points that already exist by going for it on fourth down and short more often in the red zone. Consider the following sample situations.

We have arrived at 4th and 5 on the opponent's 12-yard line.

Under the current rules, coaches face a true dilemma here. Going for it produces 2.35 expected points; choosing a FG attempt is also worth 2.35. (Calculations are courtesy of Brian Burke's calculator at

Ah, but if the FG is only worth two points instead of three, then the expected points drop by a third if you choose to kick. Going for it is still "worth" 2.35 points on average, but kicking is only worth 1.57. It seems that presented the the options, coaches will quickly learn to forgo the kick and try to get that elusive touchdown.

But here's the kicker, so to speak -- coaches are leaving points on the table right now, and discouraging them from short kicks ought to bring scoring back up.

Remember fourth-and-five at the 12 was the break-even point right now? Well, anything better than 4th-and-5 at the 12 includes situations like:

4th-and-3 at the 7: 2.87 points if you go for it, 2.50 if you kick.

4th-and-2 at the 10: 2.81 points if you go for it, 2.42 if you kick.

Coaches are kicking in those situations. All the time. Except maybe the really astute ones. Trimming the FG to two points in those cases will dissuade them. It's for their own good, really.

Wrap-up: Tell me where I screwed up

Basketball survived when longer shots started to be rewarded with more points. Football's got plays worth 1, 2, 3 and 6 points. Four is not a taboo number. Different tiers of field goals might complicate end-game strategy, but they would also give us plenty more to talk about.

My ideas are radical. And yes, they lay more responsibility at the feet of the guys who use... their feet... to impact football games. What's wrong with that?

So thanks for listening, esteemed members of Field Gulls' Competition Committee. Please leave your feedback and mockery at the tone.