Dan Bailey heard the news Tuesday, like everyone else, that NFL owners have opted to move back the point-after. The decision left the Cowboys kicker with more questions than answers.
“It’s hard to see exactly where the logic came from, I guess,” Bailey said in a phone interview. “I’m not opposed to change. If we’re going to do it, then I think we should have a reason and kind of an explanation. It seems to be like, ‘OK, so we have a certain success rate at this distance, so we’re going to move it back.’ My question is: Then what? What’s the new baseline? Is it still going to be 99-100 percent, or will there be a little leeway there. I think that’s kind of the part that’s kind of the gray area, that’s still up in the air. I guess only time will tell really.”
Kickers have made 99 percent of their extra points from the 2-yard line, including going 1,222 of 1,230 last season. The rule change moves extra points to the 15-yard line, making it a 33-yard try. Dallas was among the 30 teams to vote for the PAT change.
Bailey wonders if kickers are being penalized for being too good at their jobs. In four seasons, Bailey has never missed an extra point, going 179-for-179.
Owners also voted to allow defenses to return a blocked PAT for 2 points, as well as the ability to return a fumble or an intercepted pass on a 2-point try. Bailey pointed out that defenses now will come much harder in attempting to block PATs.
“There’s a lot going on,” Bailey said. “I guess their whole mentality in changing it was to create more excitement. I think when you look at it just in a generic sense, it makes sense in what they’re trying to do. There’s definitely a lot of scenarios that could come up and will come up, and it will be interesting to see how they play out.”
Numberfire’s chief analyst Keith Goldner calculated that the success rate from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line drops from 99.7 percent to 93.58 percent.
The NFL experimented with the longer kick for two weeks in the preseason last year, and kickers made 94.3 percent of their 33-yard extra points.
Bailey, the NFL’s all-time most accurate kicker at 89.8 percent, is 38-of-40 on field goals between 30-40 yards in his career, including 6-of-7 in 2014. He had a 35-yard attempt blocked last season.
“I’d like to make them all,” Bailey said. “That’s kind of the mentality I try to maintain, but you’re playing the percentages game. Everybody’s going to miss one at some point, it seems like. It’ll just be interesting to see how it affects the game.
“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be uncomfortable. We played with it a little bit last preseason, and it wasn’t anything crazy. It’s just going to take getting used to.”
Penalties will make things even more interesting. A holding penalty on the offense would result in a 43-yard extra-point. Would a coach at that point choose to try to go for 2 points from the 2-yard line?
The success rate of the 2-point conversion is 48 percent, including 47 percent last season.
“I think that’s going to be the biggest thing that shows up is the strategy of it, and probably the quickest thing that shows up,” Bailey said. “It depends on where teams are in the game – I’m not into predictions – but I assume that’s going to become a huge decision to make in games.”
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