ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** The NFL has decided to make changes for the upcoming 2015 season, but with options to make waves that would include moving two-point conversions to the 1-yard line, the league opted to avoid jumping in the deep end.
Ultimately, they went with just a couple changes, voting to move extra point kicks back to the 15-yard line and to allow the defense to score if they were to return an interception, fumble or blocked kick to the end zone. Two-point conversion attempts will stay at the 2-yard line.
"I think for the membership, they wanted to dip their toes into the water on this, so to speak, and not go full bore at the [1-yard line], really increase the chances of teams going for two," Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said over the phone on Tuesday. "They wanted to see how it would work, and start it by moving kicks back to the 15 and leaving the two-point try where it is."
The extra point after touchdowns has long been a chip shot for kickers, and Ellis said one of their focuses was simply adding excitement to a play often regarded as a gimme.
"The league simply wanted to make the play a meaningful competitive play and they succeeded in doing that by moving the kick back to the 15 where the percentage is obviously slightly less in terms of the number of kicks that are made than they were at the [2-yard line] and perhaps incentivizing coaches to go for two a few more times during games and also raising the intrigue of the play by including the defense in the ability of the defense to score two points either off a blocked kick, an interception or a fumble return," Ellis said.
He also noted that the rule isn't set in stone, that this will be a one-year trial. "I think what the league will do, what people in charge of all aspects of football do, will be to evaluate how it goes for a year and see if there's any tweaking that needs to be done once the 2015 season is complete," he added.
And while much attention is on the placement of the extra-point kicks, there should be some focus on the newfound ability of defenses to score on extra points, which would be an enormous reversal of fortunes for teams trying to make an extra effort at the goal line.
"I think the goal was to make it a more competitive play on all sides of the ball," Ellis said. "Extra points were rarely blocked and the occasions where plays where fumbles or interceptions occurred on two-point plays, those just ended in dead-ball situations and this will now keep the play going. It will make it far more interesting for fans, maybe it will age coaches a little bit quicker but everyone's going to have to adapt and realize some of the situations could come and take place, and prepare for them moving forward."