New Orleans Saints’ kicker Shayne Graham, Carolina Panthers’ Jordan Gay and Tennessee Titans’ kicker Maikon Bonani share the distinction of being the only kickers that missed an extra point in week 1 of the preseason. The NFL is making the “extra point” a 33 yard attempt for the first two weeks of preseason as a trial, playing with the idea of making it more permanent in the future. The idea behind this change is that the “point after touchdown” (PAT) is too easy, making it the most unexciting play in football. Kickers have gotten to a point where they are virtually automatic. So what were the results of this trial based on a one week sample size?
The three misses in week 1 came from 53 total attempts. That’s a miss rate of roughly 5.7%. By comparison, only 5 misses happened for the entirety of a 16 game season in 2013. Four of those five misses were blocks, too, whereas the three misses in week 1 of this preseason were all legitimate whiffs. The five misses last season came off 1,267 attempts, or a rate of roughly 0.4%. Admittedly the sample size of 16 games is too small to draw sweeping conclusions, but at first glance the temporary change certainly seems to suggest we can expect a significant uptick in missed extra points.
So should the NFL make the switch permanent? That’s hard to say. Does a drop change from 99.6% conversion to 94.3% really make the play any more exciting? We’ll see if the data after the second week of preseason suggests anything different. That said Gay definitely won’t be kicking for the Panthers come the regular season, and Graham and Bonani have slight leads in a kicker battle and are not guaranteed roster spots. It would be fair to expect the preseason misses to come at a higher percentage than the regular season misses, when a full time qualified kicker is handling all the duties by himself. And if we’re really just talking about 25-30 or so more mixed extra points over the course of an entire season, is a rule change really high on the list of priorities?