What do Mike Tomlin and St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher have in common?
Both coaches are good at converting two-point conversions.
Why does this matter? It matters because Fisher is the head of the NFL's Competitions Committee, which seriously considered altering the PAT during the recent owner's meetings in Arizona before deciding to table the idea for May, when the owners reconvene.
Tomlin has lobbied for the ball to be moved from the two to the one or one and 1/2-yard-line for the PAT, reason being because extra points have become too predictable, and that moving the ball closer to the end zone will promote more two-point conversion attempts. Per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 26 of the 32 teams in the NFL did not miss an extra point last season, while the six that did missed just one try.
The main reason for the idea being tabled for May, according to Fisher, was to have time to make decisions on what should happen if a penalty is to occur during a two-point attempt if the ball is placed closer to the end zone. For instance, if a holding penalty occurs during a two-point attempt, does the offense have the option then to bring out their kicker for an extra point, or does the offense still have to try a two-point conversion?
Rarely attempted, two-point conversions were successful about half of the time last season, with teams successfully converting on 28 of 59 attempts. Tomlin and Fisher are among the two more successful coaches in regards to converting on two-point conversions. Tomlin's teams have converted on eight of 10 two-point tries and were perfect in four attempts last year. Fisher's St. Louis Rams have converted on nine of 11 two-point attempts since 2010.
So, what's your take on Tomlin's idea? Personally, I have mixed feelings. I do think that if the ball is moved a half yard or full yard closer to the end zone teams will be tempted more to go for two, which will lead to more two-point attempts and potentially make games more interesting. The negative is that two-point plays will surely increase the chance of injuries, as goal-line plays are some of the more intense plays in football. If the NFL is really intent of improving player safety, they wouldn't be adjusting plays that would increase a player's chance at sustaining an injury.
If the NFL is intent on adjusting the PAT, I would do so by making the kicking game more prevalent. For example, offer a two-point option for the PAT by placing the ball on the 30 or 33-yard-line, allowing a kicker to try a 47 or 50-yard two-point conversion. This would keep the focus on having a strong special teams while allowing a safer PAT option rather than having more goal-line plays. The only issue with this would be the advantage indoor teams would have in regards to kicking conditions, but that's a different argument for a day that will probably never happen, assuming 47-50-yard two-point conversion attempts never comes into play.
Bottom line, if something isn't broken, why fix it? The NFL is the most popular sport in North America by a long shot, so tinkering with a winning and successful model doesn't make much sense at this time.