When the NFL moved extra points back last season, many believed the league would forego the kick for 2-point attempts.
The logic was sound. The 2-point attempt comes from the 2-yard line, while extra points are now kicked from 32 yards out. Why not try to punch it in instead of kicking from further out?
The pundits weren’t entirely wrong. The league attempted 94 2-point attempts, up from 59 the year before, but it wasn’t enough to rock the foundation of the league. For the most part, the status quo remained. Score. Extra point. Kickoff.
The New Orleans Saints didn't have many issues on offense last year. But there was one play …
The Steelers were really the only team that drastically changed their operating procedure, opting to go for two after 11 touchdowns. No other team topped six. Even the Saints, who have an aggressive head coach in Sean Payton, only opted to go for two four times last season, converting once.
“The analytics give you a broad-based set of numbers to work from, but it’s still south of 50 (percent success),” Payton said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show. “Let’s just say you feel like you’re one of the better teams because we’re not going to operate with the idea that we’re part of the average. If the average is 48 percent, there’s probably someone bringing up the rear at 30, and there’s probably someone converting at 60.”
It is still below 50 percent. The NFL as a whole converted 45 times (47.9 percent) on 2-point attempts. The Steelers (72.7 percent) and Packers (66.7 percent) were tops in conversion percentage among teams that attempted two more or more 2-point conversions. The Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars (20 percent) were at the bottom of the list.
Sean Payton was at the beach, enjoying his Fourth of July weekend, when he glanced at his Tw…
The extra point is still basically an automatic play. So, in Payton’s estimation, if you were converting above 50 percent, in theory, it would make sense to go for two every time.
It’s not a perfect comparison, but the passing offense has historically operated right around that success rate. Drew Brees has attempted 49 passes from the 2-yard line and in dating back to the 2011 season. He’s connected on 34 of those attempts with 28 touchdowns. The team has rushed 59 times over the same span with 27 touchdowns.
Overall, the team is right above 50 percent. So, why not go for it all the time?
“There are some other things that just factor in that you got to be mindful of. One of them is simply, ‘Do I have a play I love?’” Payton said. “Those 2-point plays are certainly plays that we would call if we were inside the 5. We wouldn’t just wait to use them as a 2-point play.
“On the call sheet, inside the 5, there might be three runs, four passes. As soon as we’re there, we’re going to use one of those plays to try and score a touchdown. But there are times when maybe you’re in the third quarter, we’ve run two of these, I don’t love a play right now. There are some parts of that that I think are game related and gut related.”
So, will the Saints consider going for two more often?
“I would say our mentality is probably on the more aggressive side when it comes to both those situations—fourth down and 2-point conversions,” Payton said last month during minicamp. “Maybe it’s something we will consider.”