NFL morning after: Coaches should learn from missed extra points – NBCSports.com

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DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Jason Myers #2 of the Jacksonville Jaguars kicks an extra point held by teammate Brad Nortman #3 during an NFL game at Ford Field on November 20, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)Getty ImagesIt was the Sunday of the missed extra point, and I loved it. Even though I hope we never see another one like it.

Let me explain: Yesterday there were 12 missed extra points, more extra points missed than ever before in any week in NFL history. That is an extraordinary outcome of the NFL’s year-and-a-half-old rule, which made extra points harder by pushing them back 13 yards farther. I love the fact that an extra point is no longer a gimme that you don’t even bother to watch.

But here’s why I hope we never see another day like yesterday in the NFL: Because I hope coaches finally learn from all these missed extra points and start going for two as the rule, not the exception. I’d love to see some weekend in the NFL when teams don’t even attempt, let alone miss, 11 extra points, because two-point conversions are a far more entertaining play. And what do we watch football for, if not to be entertained?

Now that extra points aren’t gimmes, going for two is the mathematically smart play: Two-point conversions are made about 50 percent of the time, and extra point kicks are made about 94 percent of the time. So the average expected value of a two-point conversion is 1 point, while the expected value of an extra point kick is 0.94 points. Obviously, it’s a small difference, but it’s still a difference. Coaches do all kinds of things to try to give their team the slightest of edges. So why not go for two more often, when it will give their team a slight edge?

The answer is that football coaches are conservative traditionalists by nature, and a lot of the time the reason they do things is because, “We’ve always done it that way.”

But that’s a bad reason to do things. “We’ve always done it that way” comes from a time when teams could always count on their kickers to make extra points. As we saw across the NFL yesterday, that’s no longer the case. Now, kickers miss more extra points on one Sunday than they missed in an entire season before last year’s rule change.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has begun going for two more often than most coaches do, but even Tomlin kicks more often than he goes for two. It’s past time for coaches to not only emulate Tomlin, but go beyond what Tomlin has done, and make going for two the default option. Some day some coach is going to do it, and when his team wins a game by a point, he’ll be hailed as a genius. I won’t even take credit for it.

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