Earlier today, the NFL owners voted to approve changes to the league's extra point rules, moving the PAT back to the 15-yard line, making it a 33-yard kick.
Of course, over the past ten seasons, kickers have had a 93-94% success rate on 33-yard field goals, so the extra point should still be close to a lock, but it's far less so than it was. But what this does is place more emphasis on a good kicker, something that Colts punter Pat McAfee noted as well.
"It will add a little competition to the extra point," McAfee told Colts.com's Kevin Bowen on Tuesday, "but I also think it will put a little bit more emphasis on kickers to be good. If you have a good kicker, it's really going to show because you kick more extra points and field goals obviously. We have the greatest of all-time on our team, so it should be a lot of fun."
McAfee, who also noted that this is something the Colts have been preparing for since the league tried out the 33-yard extra point in the preseason last year (Vinatieri was 6-for-6, by the way), brings up a great point: having a great kicker is even more valuable now, and the Colts have a great one in Adam Vinatieri. Before the changes, Vinatieri had made 211 consecutive extra points (dating back to 2009) and 300 of his last 301 tries (dating back to the middle of the 2007 season), about as automatic as you can get. The extra point is now pushed back, but it's unlikely to have a major impact on the Colts. Since joining the team in 2006, Vinatieri is 71-for-83 (85.5%) on kicks from 30-39 yards, while he is a perfect 6-for-6 on tries from 33 yards out. It's obviously a small sample size, but Vinatieri should be fine. Thankfully, the Colts have a great kicker.
Vinatieri, however, isn't a huge fan of the changes, though he understands them. "I'm a traditionalist," Vinatieri told Colts.com. "I like the way it (was), but I understand they are trying to change the league to make it different."
The 42-year old kicker is entering his 20th season in the league and is the oldest and longest tenured player still active in the NFL, making it completely understandable why he's not a huge fan of changing the way he's been doing something his entire career. He's been kicking extra points longer than anyone else in the league, and so for him to adjust now is understandably not his favorite thing. He also thinks that it could become an issue later in the year when the weather gets worse.
"Early in the year, I don't think it changes much," Vinatieri said. I think come playoff time, when it's windy, cold and fields are in crummy conditions, it might change some stuff."
The Colts have a number of things working in their favor despite the longer extra points now. They play in an indoor stadium most of the time, making it ideal weather conditions and eliminating that factor from the scenario. They also have a potent offense that will likely be able to convert quite a few two-point conversions if the Colts opt to go that route as well. But perhaps the biggest thing that the Colts have going for them is their 42-year old kicker, who is coming off of his best career year and a first-team All-Pro season in 2014. As McAfee noted, good kickers will become even more of an advantage now, and the Colts certainly have a great one in Adam Vinatieri, one of the league's best.