When the NFL changed the extra point to a 33-yard kick earlier this year, many wondered whether teams would begin going for a two-point conversion more often. After all, while a 33-yard field goal is still pretty automatic for NFL kickers, it's still a longer kick and something that teams will now need to account for. That's exactly what the Indianapolis Colts are expecting to happen, and it poses the question: could they be one of the teams that opts for the two-point conversion more now?
We saw that happen last Saturday in their preseason game against the Chicago Bears. After Andrew Luck ran it in for a five-yard score, the offense stayed on the field, allowing Luck to hit Andre Johnson in the end zone for the two-point conversion. It could have been a case of the Colts just wanting to work on their two-point conversion situation. It could have been a case of the Colts wanting to get the starters one more snap together before pulling them. Or it could have been an indication of what the Colts could do more often this year.
"We anticipate teams going for two more," head coach Chuck Pagano said on Thursday. "The game, the situation, the time of it, the whole thing, you've got to look at your two-point chart now. The defense being able to return a blocked kick and a turnover on a two-point play for two points now factors in. Weather conditions, there are going to be a lot of things. It's the time, like you said, to work on it. I think you've got to expand your menu on both sides of the ball because I think we're going to see it more."
Pagano continued to say that certain situations will impact the decision. "Again, I think the game situation, where you're playing, indoors, outdoors, December, January football. Those things are all going to come into play," the Colts' coach added. "Guys are going to attempt a point after from the 15 (yard line) and if the defense jumps, you can change your mind. Now you can go for two, and it's half the distance to the goal. So you're going to be able to go for two from the one instead of the two-yard line. Your percentages for making that are going to go up a little bit according to statistics looking back."
That last point is especially interesting, because as Pagano points out, if you get the defense to jump on an extra point attempt the penalty yardage could apply to the two-point conversion as well, putting it at the one yard line. The Colts actually encountered this in training camp once. After the second-team offense scored a touchdown, the special teams unit came on for the extra point. A defender jumped offsides, however, and Pagano changed his mind, instead sending the offense back out there to now attempt a two-point conversion from the one-yard line. In a game situation, this might seriously factor into the thinking.
Ultimately, I wouldn't expect the Colts to do anything revolutionary with the extra point. Don't expect them to change the game by now going for it all the time. We all know Chuck Pagano wouldn't be the guy to do that. But at the same time, I think we have to realize that teams are indeed considering going for two points more, and Pagano is one of them. The Colts have only attempted 11 two-point conversions in Pagano's three years with the team (including playoffs), but they haven't been very successful at it, converting only five of them. In 2014 they were 0-for-3, but they were 4-for-6 in 2013 and 1-for-2 in 2012. Dating back to 1998, the Colts have converted 25 of their 51 two-point conversion attempts.
It remains to be seen just how often the Colts will go for two-points this year, but if last Saturday's game and Chuck Pagano's comments are any indication, we could see it more often than in the past few years. And considering how efficiently it worked for them last year, it might not be a bad idea either.