One way to solve the NFL's kicking problem: push the PAT back

Sunday proved once and for all that it’s time to stop feeling sorry for this sorry group: Kickers are not people too.

Oh, sure, they’re a necessary evil in a savage sport played by oversized humans, but enough is enough: It’s time for the NFL to marginalize these guys, who spend much of their workday standing around doing a whole lot of nothing before crushing thousands of souls by screwing up.

The league’s decision to eliminate the gimmie extra point by moving it back from 20 to 33 yards has exposed the uselessness of kickers. There were a record 12 missed PATs on Sunday by 10 “professionals,” the most since the 10 gaffes in a week 31 years ago.

In case you were wondering, the PAT is unquestionably the single easiest play in a violent collision sport.

Kickers are missing tons of PATs this week

The most sensible solution is to push the extra point back 10 more yards, which seems counterintuitive before you realize the intended effect. Coaches will be incentivized to attempt a two-point conversion rather than cringe at the prospect of their idiot kickers trying a 43-yarder.

Before long, smart teams will realize that going for two is safer than entrusting their kickers. Alas, league decision makers will never abolish kickers — I guess field goals can be sort of entertaining (unless you’re a member of the Norwood family) — but the PAT has outlasted its usefulness.

The extra-point conversion rate has dropped about five percent since the rule change at the beginning of last season. There were eight missed PATs in two different weeks last year. There was a grand total of 23 missed PATs in the final four years of the Gimmie Era, which prompted the rule change. It was the right move even if kickers were still converting nearly 95 percent of their longer PATs before this week’s debacle.

Not every coach is going Full Tomlin by eschewing PATs at an extremely high rate, but that needs to be the direction for all of them. Teams are going for the two-point conversion twice as much now than they were under the old rules, but it should happen much more often to add another layer of excitement.

Giants kicker Gould gone with the wind

Mike ‘Go For It’ Tomlin. The Steelers coach routinely keeps his kicker on the sideline.

Mike ‘Go For It’ Tomlin. The Steelers coach routinely keeps his kicker on the sideline.

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

The sooner the PAT becomes extinct, the better.

There have been 18 missed or blocked extra points in the past two weeks, furthering the notion that kickers really should not be an integral part of the sport.

They’re already the most lampooned segment of NFL society. They have a fragile psyche. They don’t even really practice with the rest of their team. They’re basically paid consultants detached from the rest of the organization.

Is there a least respected profession in American team sports?

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Mike Nugent, Robbie Gould, Connor Barth, Matt Prater, Jason Myers, Cody Parkey, Stephen Gostkowski, Dustin Hopkins, Kai Forbath and Steven Hauschka all missed PATs on Sunday. Nugent and Gould each missed TWICE.

Be honest with yourself: Is there a real difference among those guys?

There’s a reason why you don’t draft kickers until the final round of your fantasy draft. (Full disclosure: I never draft a kicker. I just pick one up a day before the start of the regular season).

Giants kicker Robbie Gould misses two PATs on Sunday.

Giants kicker Robbie Gould misses two PATs on Sunday.

(Seth Wenig/AP)

THEY’RE ALL THE SAME.

Ok, maybe there are a few exceptions to the rule (Gostkowski is actually pretty good), but they’re by and large indistinguishable.

“I’ve actually been doing a poor job of that all year,” Captain Obvious (aka Nugent) said. “It just drives me crazy to have a poor performance that contributes to a loss.”

Imagine how the real football players felt.

It’s gotten so bad that Mother Nature is even messing with these guys. A little wind or rain or flurries can get inside their heads.

I’m not sure what Prater and Myers’ excuses were though. They played in a dome on Sunday.

“The (the wind) would start, it would stop, start, stop,” said Gould, who had missed a grand total of four of his 392 career PAT attempts before his pair of failures on Sunday.

Move back the extra point again. Give coaches more reason to keep kickers on the sideline where they belong.

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nfl

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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