The NFL changed the extra point, pushing the kick back to the 15-yard line, turning it into a 33-yard field goal. The two-point conversion will remain from the two-yard line. It has me thinking about what the Browns should do after scoring touchdowns. There will be obvious debates back and forth about statistics and there will be definitive statements about what a team “has” to do purely based on expected points and percentages. Before we get to all that stuff, I’ve already decided that I want the Cleveland Browns and Mike Pettine to consider making it a team directive to go for two nearly every single time they score a touchdown.
I fully understand that I might be wrong and might be forced to change my mind at some point. I read the post at Fivethirtyeight where they tell us that NFL kickers are getting better and better over time, and that they converted 94.4 percent of field goals from 33 yards over the last three years and 96.7 percent in the 2014 season alone. That kind of data indicates that this rule change probably shouldn’t impact a team’s M.O. all that much. Still, I’m holding firm. I think I want the Browns to go for two and make it a part of their identity as a team, from the coach, to the players, all the way to the fans. Make it a campaign and make up T-shirts that say, “We won’t settle for just one” or something.
No, it’s not because the Browns have a guy nicknamed “Murderleg” on their roster right now. But, the Browns do have Carey “Murderleg” Spear on their team, and I can’t wait for a chance for them to line up from the two-yard line in field goal position even though they’re not allowed to kick a field goal. It will just be a ruse so they can run this play.
In all seriousness, I think a team will use this opportunity to take this change and make it their advantage. It will be a part of some team’s identity and it might as well be the Cleveland Browns. Mike Pettine needs to commit to it and remain unwavering. Call all his veterans in and sell them on it. The Cleveland Browns will score touchdowns, skip celebrations, acting like stone-faced killers as they proceed straight to eight — eight points, that is. The Browns will calmly set right back up to make the defense pay more times than not by giving up two points. The Browns will work on special packages of plays and they will run them consistently and confidently so that over the course of the season they will score some percentage higher than what they could if they converted 95 out of 100 extra points.
In 2014, the Cleveland Browns scored 30 points in 30 PAT tries. Mike Pettine needs to tell his team that they are going to attempt twos no matter what and that he expects the point total to be higher than the attempt number by the end of the year. If they go for two 25 times, then he wants to see them score 26 points or more over the course of the year, and hopefully some number far greater than that. That is the directive. That will be the mission. They will execute better than the defense that just got scored on and they will prevail in a better position than the opposition.
It’s true that in 2014 the league-wide conversion percentage in the NFL on two-point conversions was just over 47 percent (28 conversions on 59 attempts). That stat might indicate that the Browns shouldn’t go for two, but it doesn’t have to be the deciding factor. The Bears were five for five. The Vikings were four for four. The Bills converted two out of two. Yes, the Browns were zero for two, but that’s irrelevant when a team with a great offensive line makes the determination to do it. Commitment to setting a goal is the first step toward achieving a goal.
Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion about the NFL that, while it’s a copycat league, you’re better off being the one that everyone else decides to try and copy. The Browns could be that team by taking the first-mover advantage and making the opposition play catch-up as the Browns start scoring eight on touchdowns more often than not.