Steelers May Benefit From Stupid PAT Changes


You may have guessed from the title but I was initially, and on principle still am, not a fan of the NFL’s new PAT rules. Who asked for this? Not unlike the kickoff changes, this was not prompted by any real direct and logical purpose. What was the NFL lacking before these changes that are now resolved? Nothing.

It’s just tinkering with something that is already the most popular sports league in the country. It’s not broke, but Roger Goodell seems to think he needs to improve it.

We’re on the SS NFL and all we have to do is sail straight in flat water, sit by the pool, tip a few back. Sounds like a nice little cruise we all get to take every Sunday, and Monday, and occasionally Thursday (one change I don’t mind because it doesn’t really impact the fundamentals of the game). But Captain Goodell is bored by this. He wants to take our epic invincible ocean liner and do donuts around ice bergs on the high seas.

Ironically, this rule change actually contradicts the logic of the previous rule change. Supposedly we move kickoffs forward to avoid injury by, in effect, eliminating kickoff returns.

Now, we’re taking a fairly routine automatic point and turning it into a chance for high stakes contact during two point conversions, where players could get injured. Unlike in kickoffs though, the players that could get injured will be starters, people whose jerseys you buy.

Someone give Roger Goodell a hobby. Teach him how to golf. Rope him into a serious gambling addiction. Anything to keep him occupied before the NFL turns into the Arena League or the XFL or some other barely recognizable quasi-football nonsense. Looking forward to the addition of trampolines.

However, upon further contemplation the Steelers might actually benefit from this for a couple reasons.

Making extra points harder is not a bad thing when you have a kicker like the Steelers have, and a stadium like the Steelers have. Heinz Field is wild bronco for kickers that just cannot be tamed. That is, except for Shaun Suisham, the Heinz whisperer.

Fifteen yards is not a long kick for even the worst of NFL kickers. It is longer though and is therefore without question harder to make. Those pesky winds of Heinz Field, squirting about like the last gasps from a ketchup bottle, make it even more difficult.

It puts all kickers at a disadvantage, but the score is always relative. It puts kickers who play against the Steelers at more of a disadvantage on average, particularly in Heinz Field.

  • The Steelers offense is made for this.

The Steelers offense as it stands now is as equipped as any in the NFL to take advantage of the natural increase in 2-point conversions this may provoke. It allows for 2-point conversions to be made without the offense or defense in a goal line package.

Removing the Steelers from the goal line is better for the lineman and the backfield because Bell is not a power back, even when he was larger as a rookie, and the lineman are made for moving. The offensive line is not particularly large, but they’re all fairly stealthy. Beachum is among the smallest tackles in the league while DeCastro and Pouncey can move and block in space as well as anyone at their positions.

Bell is also not a break away type, but he does not need to outrun the cornerbacks for 80 yards. He just needs to shake a linebacker and plow a safety over and there he is at 15.

Then you have Miller and Brown, proven veteran redzone threats. Bryant may find a new use for his touchdown grabbing skills. With Big Ben scrambling around, Bryant being a 6’4″ touchdown machine, Brown being superman, Miller looking for space, Wheaton darting back and forth, and Bell ready to take advantage of coverage spread thin, it will be difficult to stop.

Haley tends to not make plays for touchdowns but for first downs. At 15 yards, a first down pretty much is a touchdown. It really suits Todd Haley’s style of play calling as well as Mike Tomlin’s instinct for when to take a calculated risk.

  • Pudding, where the proof is

Success at 2 point conversions is a little spoken about statistic. It’s almost like bunting. It’s not used often and it’s thought more of in terms of strategy than skill. You either should or should not go for a 2 point conversion, whether you accomplish it or not is almost secondary, spoken of as if it’s merely left to chance. It is not though a matter of chance.

The Steelers have consistently performed very well on 2 point conversions. The Steelers have, since 2001, made 72.7% of their 2 point conversion attempts according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Oh sure, that includes Cowher and the epic years of Tommy Maddox. Well under Tomlin it’s even higher at nearly 77%.

The reportedly have been practicing 15 yards out from the endzone during OTAs. So it seems they intend to keep those stats up.

To conclude, the rule change is stupid, Roger Goodell needs a hobby, and this might work in the Steelers favor. We’ll see how it goes. Can’t wait until next year when we add the trampolines.

Next: Steelers: Harrison's Wait and See Approach

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