The Buffalo Bills shouldn’t have much to worry about when it comes to the NFL’s decision to move extra-point attempts back 13 yards.
According to a study authored by Andrew Pentis, a researcher for ValuePenguin, Bills kicker Dan Carpenter will have one of the easiest adjustments to the new length of extra points, which will go from being 20-yard attempts to 33-yard attempts in 2015.
In an email to The Buffalo News, Pentis explained why.
“Basically, if the longer PAT had been in place in 2014, the greater difficulty of the try (and the inevitable misses) would have cost the average NFL team five points for the season,” Pentis said.
The Bills, however, would lose just 1.75 points.
Pentis arrived at that number by using a projection on the number of successful extra points Carpenter would have in a season, 30.25 – which he found by multiplying his career success percentage on 30-to-39 yard field goals (exactly .9454545) times the number of extra points he attempted in 2014 (32). He then subtracted the projected successful point-afters from the attempts in 2014, 32-30.25, to arrive at 1.75 points lost for the season.
Only Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (1.31 points lost) and Denver’s Connor Barth (1.71) had a better projection.
However, since the number of points that a team can lose on point afters is dependent on how many touchdowns the offense scores, Pentis writes in his study that “a percentage difference is a more reliable statistic when evaluating a particular kicker’s value to his team. It looks at his career history as opposed to the number of PAT attempts his team might afford him in a given season.”
Using those parameters, Carpenter is expected to have a 4.5 percent loss in effectiveness, second only to Tucker (3.1) in the NFL. That number comes from subtracting Carpenter’s career success rate on field goals from 30 to 39 yards (94.5) from his success rate on extra points (99).
Pentis concludes his study as such: “Boil it down to this: The extra point, particularly in the fourth quarter, was previously an afterthought and could now shift the nature of a given game.”
Other findings of interest from Pentis’ study:
• The new length of the extra point – and kickers’ historical career success rate from 30-to-39 yards on field goal – would have cost teams a total of 154 points in 2014.
• Based on their kicker’s past, the San Diego Chargers would have lost the most points (nine) in 2014. Veteran Nick Novak has missed only one extra-point attempt in his career, but he has also been just 78 percent successful (38 of 49) on 30-to-39-yard attempts.
In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Carpenter explained his approach to the increased distance won’t change, but that it might among the players around him.
“The process is going to be the process no matter what. The timing shouldn’t change from an extra point to a 33-yard field goal,” he said. “I feel bad for all my linemen, all my blockers. They went from an extra point that, you know, it was an extra point, if they blocked it, the defense saved a point from being put on the board. But it was something that was pretty automatic.”
Now, however, if the defense blocks the attempt, the ball can returned to the other end zone for two points – a potential two-point swing. That means offensive linemen blocking for the extra point will take more hits.
“Being on field goal protection is probably the worst job in football,” Carpenter said. “I know that. And I know all my linemen know that. Well now, they just went from a play where there weren’t too many collisions to a play now where not only is the defense coming to take that one point off, but also to have a chance to add two more to their score. For a sport that was trying to cut down on collisions, I mean, I think that you’re probably going to add a few more on those situations.”