Fixing What is NOT broken: NFL rule changes Pt. II

Syracuse football fans rejoice: the NFL is considering proposals that may, some day, eliminate the PAT in it’s present form. As SU fans know, special teams has been a weak spot over the past few years and the extra point is no exception.

Although the NCAA still requires teams to attempt what has become a “gimme” for most teams, the NFL is considering several proposals that would replace the PAT. 

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One suggestion being considered by the NFL is to make the PAT automatic. The idea here is that instead of making teams go through the dog-and-pony show of actually kicking a PAT, the team just gets 7 points for a TD. This preserves the typical scoring structure for a football game and keeps people from having to learn multiples of 6 or 8. This proposal doesn’t make a lot of sense; you are taking something that is considered bad because it is “automatic” (NFL kickers make 99.1% of their PAT attempts) and making it automatic. The caveat is that the team can go for a 2-pt conversion, if successful they will get 8 points total for the scoring driving, and if unsuccessful will only get 6 points.

I think the NFL is going in the right direction by revising the PAT, however their idea doesn’t go far enough. Here are some common sense proposals that the NFL should consider instead:

  • Move the line of scrimmage back and narrow the uprights – Instead of eliminating the PAT, just make it more challenging and force the players to evolve.
  • Allow 12 players on Defense/Special Teams - Give the D/ST a sporting chance by allowing them to rush one more player than the offensive can block.
  • Eliminate the kicker position – There was a time when it was common to see players like Jim Brown score the TD and then follow-it up with the PAT. Allow the team to choose who they want to kick the XP. If a team is really so desperate to have a designated kicker, then they can sign one to another position. But if a team is confident in one of their other players to make the attempt, then they can just have them go for it. This would add another roster spot on the team and provide more value to players that can also successfully kick PATs.
  • Eliminate the 2 PT conversion – Let’s face it, the 2 PT conversion reeks of a backyard, home-rule that was designed one day to allow a losing team an unusual chance to catch up. The NFL may as well institute the Mercy Rule if a team is losing by too much. Like the onside kick, the 2 PT conversion is rarely used and even more rarely done successfully. Instead of allowing a team to line up and go-for-2 on special circumstances, make the scoring team having to run/pass the ball into the endzone after each TD if they want the extra point.

What do you think about these proposed rule changes? Any other suggestions that you think would be better?

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8 responses to “Fixing What is NOT broken: NFL rule changes Pt. II

  1. I like this:

    Eliminate the kicker position – There was a time when it was common to see players like Jim Brown score the TD and then follow-it up with the PAT. Allow the team to choose who they want to kick the XP. If a team is really so desperate to have a designated kicker, then they can sign one to another position. But if a team is confident in one of their other players to make the attempt, then they can just have them go for it. This would add another roster spot on the team and provide more value to players that can also successfully kick PATs.

    Just not sure how to police it. If a team signs Martin Grammatica as a defensive back and gives him #28… what can anyone do? He is a DB. Just so happens to kick.

    • I know… make a team use a different kicker for each XP. Then the strategy would (no pun intended) kick in. Do you use your kicker for the first XP? Do you save him for a 4th quarter XP? How fun would that be?

      The punter might be XP #2. The backup QB #3. And so on.

      So much fun!!!!

    • Provided that the team doesn’t have more players than the roster limits permit, then there would be nothing wrong with having a “designated kicker” playing double-duty. But what happens if you have to suddenly put Grammatica in as a DB?

      It would be interesting to see how different teams would approach this. Would Bill Belichick want to have Gostkowski, or would he rather have an extra DB? Would Chip Kelly want to have an other offensive weapon, or Alex Henery?

      Frankly, eliminating the kicker position entirely would likely cure a 2nd problem that is growing in the NFL: field goals from 50+ and 60 yards out. The players are getting too good at kicking field goals from long distances, perhaps the NFL should also make it more challenging for field goals as well.

      • The point is… how do you get rid of a kicker? The kicker is not an inherent thing… it is the guy that kicks the ball. If Michael Vick kicked, he would be a kicker. if Nick Foles is still the starting QB and only Michael Vick kicked… would be a QB or a kicker? If Martin Gramatica was the backup QB and kicker, and Michael Vick wore #33 and was the backup RB, what would be different between today and the future? Just different numbers, essentially. Still a specialist would be kicking off.

        Also, what about field goals? They are an important part of the game.

        I strongly lean towards the idea of having a different person kick every extra point. Still have a “kicker.” Maybe in conjunction with that move the kickoffs to the 50 yard line. Increase offsides attempts, decrease the distance that people run before collisions.

        • I look at this way: an NFL team can have 53 active players, right? So make a rule that of the 53 players, you cannot have a player solely for the purpose of kicking (kickoffs, punts, PATs or FGs). If you want Sebastian Janikowski as your back-up QB (and able to kick FGs/PATs) that’s fine – just hope that your starting QB doesn’t get injured because then you have to play the back-up.

          This is not unique to High School football. Many times the team’s best players play both sides of the ball (WR/CB, RB/LB, etc…) so this would increase the value of players that can multi-task.

          Again I see this as a great way for Coaches to have to make tough decisions…who knows, you may even see more missed field goals that are run back for Touchdowns like Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

        • “So make a rule that of the 53 players, you cannot have a player solely for the purpose of kicking (kickoffs, punts, PATs or FGs).”

          How do you enforce that? First play from scrimmage, 75-yard TD pass. Who kicks the XP? Must it be someone that has already played in the game? Who cannot kick the XP? Is it a penalty after the game?

          The other suggestion was a writer from Gregg Easterbrook’s column… suggested that whomever scored the TD has to kick the XP. I like that second to the different kicker for every XP. Imagine a DL having to kick after recovering a fumble. That would be fun!

        • The idea of eliminating the kicker position is that you can, if you so choose, have a kicker on your roster…but they cannot be “just a kicker”. So, if your 3rd string Safety is Matt Prater, that’s fine – just hope that you don’t have to actually play him as a Safety. Alternatively, you can try to get a 3rd string Safety that can actually kick the ball.

          My thinking is that it eliminates the “specialist” position of punter, place kicker, etc…which is like having a pitcher in baseball that you can bring out repeatedly during the game but only for certain situations. At least baseball’s rules make sense, once you replace a pitcher, he’s done for the game.

          That’s why I like your idea that you can only use each kicker once per game; then the coaches have to determine when they use each player.

          I saw that part about having the player that scores the TD kick the XP, that’s not a bad suggestion and it could add another element of strategy for coaches. Do you have a defensive player take a knee at the 1 yard line during a pick 6 in order to set up your offense? Do you have your kicker as a scat back and send him over the top for goal line formations?

  2. Frankly, I like the 2-pt conversion option (no kicking). However, to make it really spicy: If you go for the conversion and make it… you get 2 pts. BUT if you miss… you lose a point! This puts some real ‘skin in the decsion’ (vs just going for it because you have nothing to lose).

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