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Hey, NFL, Don't X-terminate the X-tra Point

Posted Mar 27, 2014

But Upon Further Review, No-Dunk Rule Is OK (Sorry, Mo)

The Competition Committee's work is done, at least its work at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes Hotel, since the owners have rolled up that tent and left town.

And so we know that in 2014, the rules that cover unsportsmanlike conduct such as taunting and other bad language is still in the rulebook, but that the position of that chapter in the rulebook has now been moved from the back of the book to the front of the book.

I think we can all agree, at least now in March, that good sportsmanship is a desirable goal.

We also know there will be no dunking of the ball over the goalpost. At first I thought that was an unnecessary intrusion on the game by the No Fun League, but upon further review, I think I'm OK with it. For one thing, Dustin Keller hasn't been here for more than a year. That was one of his signature moves, too.

And for another, consider: The Patriots introduced another of the rule changes that will be enacted, which is the adding of five feet of aluminum to the tops of all four uprights on the two goalposts in each NFL stadium. That's so as to make sure there's more of a chance for one of those rainmaker field goals to doink in or doink out, rather than pass over the tops of the posts and require a judgment call from the officials.

New England had one of those last year. So did we, at Miami, when Nick Folk's 35-yarder early in the fourth quarter sailed over the top of the right upright. The officials judged that ball to be no good. Nick and Rex Ryan, among others, disagreed, but we still went on to win.

Now consider what a Jimmy Graham crossbar slamma-jamma might do to a set of goalposts with 10 feet more aluminum perched on the uprights. As Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said, "When you add five feet to the top and make them even heavier, I think we were concerned about how it would impact a game from a competitive standpoint."

So Graham may not like it and said he'll keep throwing the ball down, penalties be damned (I'm guessing he'll be rethinking that stance), and Muhammad Wilkerson won't like hearing this after his glorious layin at Seattle in '12, but I'm good with the no-dunk rule.

But the thing that still worries me is all the talk about the extra point.

Why Punish the Kickers?

The rule proposal to move all extra-point kick snaps back from the 2 to the 25 was also introduced by the Patriots, and it was not implemented. However, the NFL will mandate a trial that will last the first two weeks of this preseason in which all extra-point kick snaps in the league will be made from the 20.

Just for the heck of it, I went back to the archives to see how our kickers and opponents fared with 38-yard field goals, which is what the extra-point kick from a 20-yard-line snap will become, minus a little bit of the three-point pressure.

I checked the last 15 seasons of Jets games and my conclusion is this: Extra points of course will be harder from 18 yards further back. But not a lot harder.

For the Green & White, John Hall, Doug Brien, Mike Nugent, Jay Feely and Folk tried 21 field goals from 38 yards out. They made 19.

Jets opponents didn't have as many tries. Since 1999, they tried nine 38-yarders. They made all nine.

That's a small sampling but let's say that the combined 28-for-30 rate (93.3% accuracy) would hold for the entire league over the course of a season. Last season McKay said the league's kickers missed just five of their 1,267 tries. That's 99.6% accuracy. At 93.3, about 85 kicks would be missed per season. So the accuracy would go down roughly from two misses every seven weeks to about five misses every week.

This may work for some, but I have always been a conservative and I want to leave the rule the way it is. But if there is a desire on the part of ownership to reduce the automatic nature of all kicks, not just PATs, then my suggestion is that while you're adding that five feet to each upright, move the posts closer together. It wouldn't even have to be that much narrower, from 18'6" wide to, let's say, 15'. (Arena League uprights are 9' apart.) The standards of accuracy would have to be reestablished by all kickers on all kicks, but we're not moving the ball all over the field.

On second thought, my coach is Rex Ryan and Rex has a definite preference for the extra point: Leave it alone.

"Don't bring them in. Don't shrink them. You can't do all that stuff," Rex, clearly another conservative, told me before the owners' meetings began. "Why punish 'em" — the kickers, that is — "because they're that good?"

I'm happy the Competition Committee is recommending merely a preseason trial this year. Just do me and football fans everywhere a big favor, NFL. In this rush to execute the deadly boring extra point: Don't turn your game into the World Football League.

Seven-point TDs and Action Points, anyone?

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