The NFL's preseason extra-point experiment is over, and Tom Coughlin is not impressed.
While the NFL competition committee's attempt to make the post-touchdown play more exciting somewhat succeeded — resulting in eight missed extra points on 141 attempts in the first two weeks of preseason compared to just five on 1,321 tries all of last season — the difference in success rate from the 2-yard line in 2013 (99.6 percent) compared to the 15 this summer (94.3) hasn't quelled concerns the extra point is the most meaningless play in a sport otherwise stacked with excitement.
After just two weeks of watching kickers try 33-yard extra points, Coughlin is among the coaches already outlining alternatives. Here's what the Giants coach had to say at Thursday's press conference.
"I didn’t think much of it when it was suggested," he said. "There are some ways to change that part of it if the intent is to make it more exciting. I think that certainly would be one of them. I think you have to be aware of the fact that it’s a 33-yard field goal in November when the wind’s blowing and it’s snowing here and ... in Miami it’s 75 degrees. It’s a little different in different parts of the country. You do have to be aware of that. I would say probably the ball will stay at the 2 (for) extra points. But if you really want to make it interesting put it at the 1."
We'll get to Coughlin's point about the weather in a moment, but first let's tackle the possibility of placing the ball at the 1-yard line after a touchdown. The success rate on kicks wouldn't change all that much from the near-perfect season kickers enjoyed from the 2 in 2013, but coaches might think twice about attempting 2-point conversions if a running back only has to plunge half the distance to the goal line.
According to ESPN's Stats & Information department, teams enjoyed a 65.5 percent success rate on 2-point conversion attempts from the 1-yard line as opposed to 46.9 percent from the 2. The odds of a successful QB sneak or Walter Payton leap improve exponentially, opening the door for passing plays, bootlegs and any number of plays against a defense stacking the line to stop a 1-yard run.
As for Coughlin's point about the weather impacting extra points, both teams would be playing in the same stadium, if I'm not mistaken, so the effect on a particular game doesn't seem so significant. Although, more coaches might consider picking a favorable fourth-quarter wind direction on a coin toss. Overall, the success rate on kicks in cold-weather outdoor stadiums won't be as successful, either, and that could create a problem statistically for a kicker looking at his next contract.
Count Packers coach Mike McCarthy among Coughlin's supporters. "I think if they go to the 1," he told ESPN, "the 2-point conversion will go up significantly. … The run opportunity and the pass opportunity are both in play from the 2 and the 1, but running from the 2 is different than running from the 1."
In a limited sample size, the NFL's preseason experiment also resulted in more frequent 2-point conversion attempts. Teams attempted 69 all of last season, an average 4.3 per week, and there were an average of eight 2-point conversions in the first two weeks of preseason, a few of which resulted from coaches trying to make up for missed extra-point attempts by their kickers. But how exciting is it really to see your team lose a game because of a botched extra point and a failed 2-point conversion?
Of course, the league could go Bill Belichick's route and eliminate the extra point entirely. Either way, a change appears on the horizon, as NFL officiating head Dean Blandino told The Dan Patrick Show.
“I think what you’re going to see is this play is going to change in the very near future. I don’t know if it’s the 15-yard line. I think we’re going to gather all the information we can from this experiment. I know there were several other proposals, several other ideas. We’ll gather all of that, the competition committee will get together once the season is over and we’ll come up with a proposal. I’m sure some teams will propose some things but I do anticipate this play is going to change.”