Baltimore Ravens: To Kick Or Not To Kick?


The NFL owners have approved a proposal to make changes to the extra point attempt in 2015 season that should change how coaches approach the point after try.

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The proposal was brought forth by the NFL Competition Committee, and was approved, 30-2, in a vote by the owners. The NFL specifically states that the committee is focused on “playing rules, roster regulations, technology, game-day operations and player safety.” The current members of the committee consist of two owners, two team presidents, two general managers and three head coaches.

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the eight teams to have a representative in the group that is aimed to review all aspects of the game. General Manager Ozzie Newsome is the Ravens representative. The other members of the committee include:

The new rule moves the extra point try back from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line, making the extra point a 33-yard attempt as opposed to the 18-yard try in previous years. A team can still go for a two-point conversion that will remain at the 2-yard line. The other change in the rule will be that defenses will be able to return a failed PAT or two-point conversion for two points, similar to the rule that the NCAA has implemented for numerous seasons.

My colleague Jeremiah Sater already touched on how the rule change will affect Justin Tucker. Tucker has never missed a PAT in his NFL career, but with the try pushed back, it will no longer be a no-brainer like it once was. Will this encourage teams to go for the two-point conversion more?

An interesting aspect to the rule change is how it will have an effect on certain teams more than others. Teams that have home stadiums in a dome will have a much easier time with the point after kick than those with outdoor stadiums. The teams in the northeast, like Baltimore, are at even more of a disadvantage with the cold, wind, rain and snow that take over the region as the season progresses. Tucker was quick to being this up when asked about the rule change.

"“We play in the AFC North and we play almost every single game outside. This is a tough division to play football in in general. It takes maybe a little bit more mental toughness than playing in a dome 10 games a year.”"

The debate is which is more beneficial to a team. Everyone has their own opinion on whether it makes more sense to go for the one-point or two-point conversion, but the numbers point to the two-point try being more beneficial.

The Philadelphia Eagles proposed a plan that would have moved the two-point try to the 1-yard line instead of the 2-yard line. Chip Kelly is the type of coach who might never kick an extra point again with the rule change. The signing of Tim Tebow was not just a publicity stunt. Kelly knew that this rule change was coming, and he found another weapon for short yardage situations.

Think about this scenario for a second.

Baltimore has Tucker, the most accurate kicker in league history. The Eagles have Kelly, one of the most innovate offensive minds in football. Each team scores four touchdowns a piece. The Ravens kick the PAT after every touchdown, while Chip goes for two after every score.

The maximum number the Ravens can score is 28 points. In a scenario that they should miss one of the longer PAT, the number drops to 27. If there is a second miss, common sense tells us it’s one less point and so forth.

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Now imagine the Eagles in this situation. The maximum number of points they can score is 32. If the team converts 3-of-4 conversions, they have scored 30 points. If they score on two of the four attempts, they’ve scored 28 points. Basically, even if the Eagles go 50 percent per game on the two-point conversion, they still score the same amount of points that the Ravens.

You can make the argument that there is also the possibility that a team consistently going for two could go 1-for-4 or fail to convert entirely in a game. That’s certainly possible, but the numbers show us otherwise. The two-point conversion had a success rate of 47.5 percent (27 of 56) in the 2014 season, and over the past five seasons, the conversion rate is at exactly 50 percent.

Why do these numbers matter? The aim for the rule change was to make the PAT conversion rate drop from 99.5 percent to roughly 90 percent. That means for every ten kicks, one will be missed. That one point could be the difference between winning and losing.

The rule change throws a wrinkle in a coach’s game-planning week after week. Weather is going to play even more a factor. Teams that lack the same firepower as other teams might be more inclined to go for two points. Coaches now have to take into account a kicker’s confidence in making a 33-yard try.

This could be just the start of several changes to this rule. The two-point try could be moved to the 1-yard line like it has been previously discussed. If kickers continue to make the PAT at percentages over 90 percent, they could push it back even more. For the 2015 season, it’s a 33-yard try for one point and two yards for two points.

Now the great debate begins. Do the Ravens rely on the consistent leg of Tucker at all times, or is Joe Flacco and the offense on the field more often after touchdowns? It’s going to be interesting to see how John Harbaugh and the rest of the NFL attack the rule change.

Next: Will The Rule Change Affect Justin Tucker?