NFL owners on Tuesday approved several new rules, one of which will force teams to line up on the 15-yard line for point after tries. This means PATs will now be kicked from 33 yards out rather than 20.
Such a change may not be groundbreaking, but it is a change nonetheless. Extra point success rates are annually higher than 99 percent; in the previous two years, field goals from 30-35 yards out were made 97.6 percent of the time when booted from the center of the gridiron.
True, that's not a huge drop, but given the frequency in which PATs are kicked, pushing them back could make a noticeable difference. To put it in perspective: NFL kickers attempted 1,230 extra points last season. Had their conversion percentage been 97.6, they would have missed 30 instead of eight.
The inevitable rise in failed PATs might persuade coaches to tweak their strategies. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the expected value of a 32-33-yard PAT would have been .916 points over the last decade. The expected value of a two-point conversion during that span: .948.
So, if the math held up, league-wide scoring would increase if teams never kicked PATs. Obviously going for two isn't always the correct strategy — each club has different personnel, and not all situations require more than one added point — but it's certainly interesting to think about.
"I know they want more aggression from the standpoint of what's going on and encouraging you to go for it and those types of things," Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said to USA Today. "It's definitely going to change things if it takes place from a scoring system or increment standpoint."
Regardless, don't expect a new wave of thinking to sweep across the league. The expected value of two-point conversions has been higher than PATs for a while, and no one in the NFL has trusted these numbers enough to apply radical tactics. That said, a few more misses here and there could force some teams to reconsider their approach.
As far as Atlanta is concerned, this new rule shouldn't make a big difference in 2015 — if any at all. Matt Bryant has made 19-of-20 field goals from 32-33 yards in his professional career, and since joining the Falcons, he's missed only three of 45 in the 30-39 range.
"You've just got to go out there and kick it," Bryant told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. "Now the extra point will be 33 yards instead of 20 yards. That's now going to be a part of the game. That's my job, so I just have to go out and do my job. It's not a big deal other than it's 13 yards further."
Bryant also mentioned that pushing back PATs should have a greater impact during games played outdoors. This effect will be minimal for the Falcons, at least in the short-term, as their only scheduled visit to the North is on Sept. 20 (MetLife Stadium).
"A 33-yarder, it's not the hardest kick in the world. It's not a gimme, either," Bryant added. "You're talking about possibly having to tie a game and it's 34-33 and you've got to kick it to tie it and possibly go into overtime. That will make things interesting for (Northern) teams. How bad would that to be to miss the playoffs because of a 33-yard extra point?"