TMQ Nice to Belichick; Loud Klaxons Sound in Bristol: Bill Belichick suggested recently that PAT kicks should be eliminated. At the risk of saying something nice about Belichick, he's got a point. He noted that back in the day, there was drama to whether the PAT kick would succeed. Now there's none. This season, more than 99 percent were successful: 1,256 of 1,261 through the uprights. It might well be that injuries are more common on PAT kicks than misses, at least at the professional level; the missed PAT kick does remain a standby of prep football.
Should an NFL touchdown simply be seven points? Tuesday Morning Quarterback would rather the PAT kick be eliminated, and replaced with a two-point try from the 2-yard line. The case for this change is the same as the case was for bringing the two-point play into the NFL, which happened in 1994 -- the only effect would be to make football more exciting.
The deuce try is one of football's most interesting moments. But the deuce is rare. This year, NFL coaches went for two a mere 58 times. If every touchdown led to a run-or-pass try from the 2-yard line -- essentially, to a fourth-and-goal from the 2 -- this season that would have seen 1,319 deuce tries, an average of five a game. That's a lot more excitement, and the NFL is, at heart, an entertainment enterprise.
In 2013, 50 percent of deuce tries succeeded; for the past decade, that's been the approximate average. Is the deuce try somehow different from a regular fourth-and-goal from the 2? Probably not: Over the last decade, ESPN's research department reports, 51 percent of NFL plays on fourth-and-goal from the 2 have resulted in touchdowns.
So suppose the NFL were to eliminate the PAT kick and allow only deuce tries. If roughly half succeed, scoring wouldn't change -- but a lot of excitement would be added, both with lots of deuce tries and because fourth quarter lead-margin dynamics would become harder to predict. Anything that adds interest to the game is a plus.
If purists must cling to the singleton PAT kick, then move the spot back. Teams could choose between spotting the ball at the 35 for a one-point PAT kick of about 52 yards -- that's where it would have to be to prevent the kick from being automatic, because NFL kickers now hit nearly all attempts from the 40 to the 49 -- or spotting the ball at the 2 for a two-point run-or-pass try. This rule could only make football more exciting!
Tuesday Morning Quarterback proposes a grand compromise in which the kickoff is eliminated -- after a score, the opponent takes possession on its 25 -- in return for changing the point-after rule. In 2011, the kickoff spot was advanced by five yards in order to increase touchbacks; concussions on kickoff plays declined as a result. Eliminating the kickoff entirely would further reduce concussions, especially concussions suffered by the relatively low-paid unknowns who populate special teams. Changing the point-after would add back the amount of excitement that eliminating the kickoff took out. Football would remain just as much fun to watch, while kickoffs, the most concussion-prone play, would be done away with. If all-deuce-no-kickoffs worked in the NFL, college and high school would follow, potentially avoiding thousands of concussions each season.