FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Reviews have been mixed around the league for the NFL's experiment with longer kicks on extra points.
Regardless, it appears there's a future for them.
Eight kicks from the longer distance - usually 33 yards - were missed during the first two weeks of the preseason. The 94.3 percent success rate (133 of 141) was below the regular-season rate (99.6 percent) from 2013 when the ball was snapped from the 2-yard line instead of the 15.
Only five of 1,267 short kicks were missed in 2013.
All of this summer's misses came with the ball snapped from the 15. Snaps will move back to the 2 this week and for the regular season.
NFL officiating director Dean Blandino says he believes longer PAT kicks are "in the league's near future." The results this preseason will be brought to the competition committee, and a proposal for change almost certainly will be presented to team owners at next March's annual meetings.
Blandino isn't sure the 15-yard line will be the focal point of any change.
As with any alterations to the game, coaches and players offered a variety of viewpoints.
San Francisco's veteran placekicker Phil Dawson didn't get a chance to try a long extra point because the 49ers didn't score any touchdowns in their first two exhibition games. He sees the positive and negative sides of a longer kick.
"It could rear its head in a game where the kicker hasn't been on the field in a while," Dawson said. "It's hard to stay loose and then all of a sudden there's a sudden score, maybe a fumble recovery, kickoff return, interception return. You might not be super loose yet. It's one thing to go out there and pop through a 20-yarder. You back up (another) 13-15 yards and you're a little stiff, you could possibly run into some problems there."
On the other foot ...
"Any rule change that's designed to highlight what guys do well, I'm all for it," Dawson added. "If that rule change is motivated by, `Man, our kickers are really good and we want to showcase what they do well,' I'm all for it."
Jets kicker Nick Folk, who has never missed an extra point in his seven-year career, believes longer tries make the more accurate kickers even more valuable. But "I think most kickers want to keep it the same as it's been."
So does Tom Coughlin.
The Giants coach sees some inequity in moving extra point placements back. He rolled his eyes when asked to assess the experiment.
"I didn't think much of it when it was suggested," Coughlin said. "There are some ways to change that part of it if the intent is to make it more exciting. I think that certainly would be one of them.
"I think you have to be aware of the fact that it's a 33-yard (kick) in November when the wind's blowing and it's snowing here and ... in Miami it's 75 degrees. It's a little different in different parts of the country."
Coughlin thought extra points would be more interesting if the ball was spotted at the 1-yard line. It might entice more teams to go for 2 points.
This year, 16 2-point conversions have been tried in the preseason, with four successful. In 2013, nine were attempted in the first two weeks of the preseason, with four successful.
Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri, who's won four Super Bowls as one of the NFL's best clutch kickers, made all three of his PATs this summer. He agrees with Coughlin that weather can be a factor "when conditions get crummier" and thinks longer kicks might lead to more 2-point attempts.
"I think it could impact the outcome of games and you may see more teams go for 2 in those situations because they won't want to try (essentially) a 33-yard field goal," Vinatieri said.
Denver's Matt Prater, who owns the NFL record with a 64-yard field goal last season, noted that most of the eight misses were by backup kickers.
But "now that some guys have missed some. I think they may do it" he added of moving back the extra points.
Asked if kickers are being punished for how accurate they are, Prater then said: "No kidding. Why not: `The receivers are too good, they can't wear gloves anymore.' `'
There are other, more drastic options that might excite the fans if not the coaches and kickers. Perhaps eliminating the kick altogether and requiring teams to go for a conversion with a play.
Or, as Eagles coach Chip Kelly suggested:
"I think they should narrow the goalposts if they want to make it a little bit (harder), but no one asked me."
Take a look at AFC Predictions for the upcoming season
Steve Smith is as perfect a fill-in for Boldin as it gets, and we’ll see how much the veteran has left in the tank. Dennis Pitta will be healthy to start the year and Rice has looked especially spry in preseason action. Flacco is a strong fit for Kubiak’s offense, and as long as the offensive line plays well the Ravens are primed for a bounce-back year.
Baltimore finished just outside the top 10 NFL defenses in 2013, but it felt like the unit had taken a major step backward. The losses of Ray Lewis and Ed Reedleft gaping holes at middle linebacker and at safety, but the moves the team made this offseason should fix that.
C.J. Mosley was drafted in the first round and will be plugged in at middle linebacker, and the team paired Darian Stewart with 2013 first-rounder Matt Elam to sure up the back end of the D.
If all goes to according to plan, the Ravens should be competing with the Steelers and Bengals for the AFC North. We’re not even two years removed from Flacco being a Super Bowl MVP, and the team has plenty of talent in place to return to the postseason.
What the veterans contribute will determine how far this team goes. Steve Smith, Daryl Smith,Terrell Suggs and Rice — they are all being counted on to play major roles. If they’re up to the task, don’t sleep on Baltimore.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
This year is essentially a rookie season for second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel, who was sidelined with a knee injury in 2013. Thus far, Manuel has looked shaky in the preseason. But all the former first-round pick has to do is be a game-manager in order for the Bills to have a chance.
The team has talent and depth at the skill positions, and a very solid offensive line. Manuel will determine how far the offense goes.
Buffalo quietly finished with the AFC’s fourth-best defense in 2013, but the team lost coordinator Mike Pettine to the Browns, ballhawking safety Jairus Byrd in free agency and Kiko Alonso to injury.
Jim Schwartz takes over the unit with a reputation for assembling stout D-lines, which he has again with Kyle and Mario Williams. His big task will be getting production from his depleted linebacking corps and inexperienced secondary.
There’s talent on both sides of the ball, but the team will only be as good as its play at the quarterback position. The bill is out still on Manuel, but this year will be a major indicator of whether he has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
Even a Mark Sanchez-esque season might propel the Bills into second place in the AFC East, but it probably won’t be enough to sneak into the postseason.
Coordinator Jay Gruden is now the head coach in Washington, leaving Hue Jackson in charge. Jackson has a rich history of getting the most out of his players, and now has weapons like Gio Bernard and A.J. Green to work with. Perhaps Jackson will find a way to get the most out of Dalton.
The AFC’s top defense a year ago, the unit should be strengthened by the return of Geno Atkins, as well as the addition of first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, who coach Marvin Lewis said was the best rookie corner he’s ever seen.
But the unit will be without coordinator Mike Zimmer, now at the helm of the Vikings and top pass-rusher Michael Johnson signed with Tampa Bay in free agency, while parts of the secondary are on the downside of their careers.
The rest of the AFC North should be much improved in 2014, and it’s going to be difficult for Cincinnati to overcome the loss of both coordinators. But the Bengals should be vying for a division crown, largely because of how much talent is up and down this roster.
The offense has more firepower, and there’s a lot of optimism around Jackson calling the plays. This outstanding defense has some questions, which begin with how healthy Atkins is. But the Bengals are a playoff team; how much Dalton progresses throughout the year will determine how far the team goes.
(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Despite drafting Johnny Manziel in the first round of May’s draft, the starting quarterback job belongs to Brian Hoyer to begin the year. And Hoyer will have a talented backfield tandem of Ben Tate and rookie Terrence West, and a receiving corps that includes vets Miles Austin, Nate Burleson and tight end Jordan Cameron, who’s in a contract year.
The team’s most explosive player, Josh Gordon, will not be a part of the team this season due to a suspension, and that’s a tough blow for a young offense that lacks playmakers. Nonetheless, the situation at quarterback — where Manziel will be waiting in the wings should Hoyer slip up — will limit how productive the unit will be.
Without question, the Browns have a chance to be one of the league’s top defenses in 2014. The development of last year’s first-rounder, Barkevious Mingo, and Gilbert will be major factors in just how high the unit’s ceiling will be.
While the defense should be stellar right off the bat, the offense is a work in progress, one that’s going to be hindered by the absence of Gordon. With legitimate contenders in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the division, the road is all the more difficult for Cleveland this season.
A successful 2014 for the Browns would be solidifying the quarterback position for next season. The Hoyer-Manziel competition this summer is solved, for now, but Manziel will take over at some point this year. How much Johnny Football can show by season’s end will give us a better glimpse of what this team is capable of down the road.
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The NFL’s top-ranked offense a season ago,the Broncos have re-tooled for this year and perhaps will be even better. Knowshon Moreno is gone, but in his place is the younger Montee Ball, a 2013 first-round pick who is more of a downhill runner. Eric Decker is now in New York, and in his place the team signedEmmanuel Sanders from Pittsburgh and drafted highly touted Cody Latimer in the second round of the draft.
More importantly, the offensive line is healthy again, meaning the Broncos could rely more on a balanced attack — not that Peyton Manning isn’t capable of single-handedly directing this offense. With so many ways to beat you, there are few defenses that’ll actually force Manning and Co. to sweat this year.
If Talib continues to be as solid as he was in New England, the Broncos should have the best unit in the conference.
The Broncos aren’t just preparing for the playoffs, their sights are set on the Super Bowl. The team actually improved on both sides of the ball, making the offense more balanced and the defense deeper and more talented.
The window for Manning and the veteran-laden Broncos is small, so the time to strike to now. It’s Super Bowl or bust at this point, but there’s little doubt that those expectations are realistic.
(Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
What has the chance to be the worst offense in the AFC and possibly the NFL, Houston is breaking in a new offensive scheme with a journeyman signal-caller, oft-injured running back and disgruntled wide receiver. What’s there to be optimistic about?
Ryan Fitzpatrick has a very limited ceiling under center, and neither backup Case Keenum nor rookie Tom Savage has done anything to provide much hope. Coming off an injury plagued 2013,Arian Foster has missed time this preseason due to nagging injuries. Andre Johnsonalready wanted out of town, and when he doesn’t get enough catches, where will his mindset be in mid-November?
What the Texans lack in defense they should make up for on defense. Jadeveon Clowney teaming up with J.J. Watt gives the unit a formidable pass rush. If Brian Cushing can return at 100 percent, the run defense should return to form.
The questions are in the secondary, where both corners Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph have disappointed in recent years. A solid effort from the front seven should allow the pass defense to improve, though.
The Texans might be picking in the top five again in May 2015. The offense has little potential, and despite Bill O’Brien‘s reputation for molding quarterbacks he doesn’t have much to work with this year. If Foster gets hurt again, where does that leave the offense?
Defense and defense alone should keep the Texans in games, but probably not enough to push the win total beyond four or five games. If the defense winds up being among the league’s best, it’ll only be a year or two away from the offense catching up, if O’Brien is as good as he’s expected to be.
Trent Richardson and Hakeem Nicks are the names to keep an eye on. Richardson needs to better familiarize himself with the playbook in order to regain that form he showed his rookie year. If Nicks, too, can round into shape, he can be a solid No. 3 option out wide to further perplex opposing secondaries.
Top pass-rusher Robert Mathis will miss the first four games of the season, putting added pressure on second-year player Bjoern Werner to exceed expectations right off the bat. Antoine Bethea is now in San Francisco, so Delano Howell needs to grow up quickly. Free-agent signeeD’Qwell Jackson was brought in to solidify a very shaky run defense.
At best, Chuck Pagano’s defense will be mediocre in 2014. It doesn’t have to be great; it just has be solid enough to make stops when need be.
The Colts should have no issue maneuvering through the weak AFC South. Their playoff run will be dictated by how clutch Luck proves to be against the best of the AFC, and how well the defense can progress throughout the year.
This is a championship-caliber offense, but a defense of a team that would hover around .500. A second-round playoff exit is the likely fate of Indianapolis barring an unforeseen turn of fortune.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Given what’s transpired in the preseason, there’s no question in my mind that first-round pick Blake Bortles is showing enough to warrant the starting job over the very limited Chad Henne. Bortles has looked sharp, giving Jacksonville fans reason to believe they’ve finally stumbled upon the team’s first franchise quarterback in more than a decade.
Gus Bradley is trying to replicate what Seattle did in Jacksonville, and stole Chris Clemons and now Red Bryant away from the ‘Hawks and brought them to his D. Jonathan Cyprien is one of the NFL’s best young safeties, bringing the same sort of skills to the table that Earl Thomas does.
Despite a few solid pieces, the Jags’ D has a lot of holes to fill. The interior line, linebacking corps and cornerbacks are average at best, but some pieces are also young and could develop like they did for the Seahawks.
Nobody is counting on the Jaguars to be a playoff team in 2014, but they showed last year under Bradley they’re no longer a pushover. The need to continue on that ladder, win a few more close games, and most importantly the future building blocks of the organization need to grab headlines for the right reasons.
Bortles should be starting by October. Gerhart needs to prove he’s capable of being a workhorse-type back. And this defense needs to be competitive, especially against mediocre AFC South offenses. A six-win season would be a great way for Bradley to end his second season in Jacksonville.
(Photo by John Konstantaras/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs and quarterback Alex Smith are entering the 2014 season without having agreed upon a new deal. Will there be hostility? Does Smith have something to prove, and can he outplay the “game manager” label?
Jamaal Charles is the clear-cut focal point of the offense, but how much will the offseason moves affect what he’s able to do?
Kansas City’s defense is the reason why they were unbeaten midway through the 2013 season. Its sudden regression, however, also led to its struggles down the stretch.
Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are among the NFL’s top pass-rushers, and rookie Dee Ford has been the talk of camp. But while the front seven is stout, there are major questions in the secondary.
The Chiefs’ 11-5 mark last season is essentially unreachable for the team this year, as they’re probably going to finish at or a hair above .500, and behind both the Chargers and Broncos in the AFC West.
Charles is an elite talent and this defense has the chance to be outstanding, but will contract talks or a lack of weaponry hurt the team from an offensive standpoint? It just lacks the firepower that most playoff teams tend to pack.
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Ryan Tannehill has progressed each of his first two NFL seasons, and the addition of former Eagles offensive coordinator Bill Lazor may propel the quarterback in 2014. Tannehill threw for more yardage in 2013 thanNick Foles did in Philly, but he did not have a touchdown-to-interception ratio as good as Foles did. Lazor will need to help Tannehill cut down on the turnovers.
One way to do so is increasing the role for Lamar Miller, who failed to live up to the hype in his second season. Miller has a LeSean McCoy-like skill-set, and so far has earned rave reviews this summer. He and wideout Mike Wallace need to be better incorporated in the offense to increase the big plays downfield.
The issue with the Dolphins was their rush defense. Dannell Ellerbe has to prove he’s as good as the contract the team gave him last offseason. Their pass D was a middle-of-the-pact unit, meaning those role players — Finnegan and safety Louis Delmas — must rediscover their rhythm.
It seems like the Dolphins are destined to be a .500 team, again, which doesn’t bode well for Joe Philbin keeping his job for the 2015 season. Tannehill must continue to develop into an NFL passer by getting better chemistry with Wallace and getting Miller into space. But it won’t be so easy with a suspect offensive line.
The Dolphins are not a playoff team, but aren’t a pushover either. There are some quality pieces in place, but some major question marks as well. If those question marks perform well, their fate can change.
This year, Amendola should be better acquainted with the playbook, Thompkins and Dobson are more experienced and Gronk returns as the key playmaker. With Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, the Pats offense looks much like it did when they were winning Super Bowls.
Yet again, the Patriots should be the favorites in the AFC East, and if all goes according to plan they should see the Broncos in late January with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
The major “if” is whether Gronk, Revis, Amendola, Wilfork and the other veteran role players can stay healthy for the course of the season. As we saw with Gronk and Wilfork, one major injury can result in a major setback.
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
New York Jets
It was a shaky first NFL season for Geno Smith, to say the least, but the Jets front office has surrounded the sophomore signal-caller with talent as he enters Year 2. Eric Decker is now a go-to target, while Chris Johnson adds some lightning to a backfield with a thunderousChris Ivory.
With a strong running game to lean on and more weapons in the passing game, Smith is poised to progress in 2014. However, any slip-ups may result in Michael Vick taking over.
Milliner needs to round into that shutdown corner form, and rookie Calvin Pryor needs to help solidify the back end of the defense.
The Jets defense alone is good enough to have the team in contention for a Wildcard spot. The unit should be the anchor of this team, while Smith and the offense have to “just do enough” to put them over the top.
How well Smith — or potentially Vick — performs under center and whatever Johnson can contribute at this stage in his career will be major catalysts for the Jets in 2014. If the offense can make enough strides as the season goes on, the team has a lot of potential.
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Before Week 1 even rolls around, it appears as if Oakland already whiffed on its trade to acquire Matt Schaub. The veteran has failed to impress in the offseason and in the preseason, giving us more and more reason to believe it’s only a matter of time before rookie Derek Carr steps in.
Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drewsound like a strong running back duo, but McFadden has never stayed healthy for a 16-game season and Jones-Drew has a lot of tread on his tires. The offensive line remains suspect, and the team has about three No. 2 wide receivers.
The addition of first-rounder Khalil Mack gives the Raiders a solid unit, but one that may be overmatched by the likes of the Broncos and Chargers in their own division.
If coach Dennis Allen’s job is on the line, quarterback will be the biggest decision he has to make. Starting Schaub and leaving him in place for the first month could result in four straight losses, which they may not be able to overcome over the course of the season.
Allen is a defensive coach, though, and if this veteran-laden group winds up being as good as he anticipated then he should salvage his job. But Carr also must prove he’s a starting quarterback in this league.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
It’ll be a young nucleus of players being counted on in Pittsburgh. Le’Veon Bell has taken the reins of the running game, while a host of unproven receivers will try to step up and replace Emmanuel Sanders.
The Steelers are seemingly moving back to a ground-and-pound attack, where Bell is a bellcow and LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer offer unique skill-sets. If Big Ben can do his thing when it comes to making plays down the field, this offense could resemble their recent Super Bowl-winning teams.
In the matter of one offseason, Pittsburgh’s defense again looks like it’ll be a force, one that could not only be the best in the AFC North but maybe the entire NFL.
The Steelers nearly snuck into the postseason a year ago, and have a strong shot at returning there in 2014. The difference will be whether these young players being counted on will thrive in these big positions.
It’s bound to be a great race in the AFC North with Cincy and Baltimore, but is there a quarterback in the division to trust more than Roethlisberger?
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San Diego Chargers
Mike McCoy is proving himself to be one of — if not — the best offensive minds in the game today. Last year he helped Philip Riversrevive his career, and after a year of bringing the Bolts back to the contention has even more weapons to work with.
The most glaring weakness in 2013 was the secondary, which was addressed by the addition of free-agent Brandon Flowers and first-round pick Jason Verrett. Those two alone should bolster what was an atrocious pass defense last year.
The Chargers’ surged into the playoffs last year, winning four straight en route to earning a Wildcard spot. Now that the team has been together in this new scheme longer, expect a stronger performance right out of the gates, picking up right where it left off in 2013.
Rivers continues to re-insert his name in the elite quarterback discussion, and McCoy will continue to design an offense to suit his strengths. Defense remains a bit touchy, but should be a middle-of-the-pack unit.
These Bolts should again be playoff-bound, where Rivers has a history of leading his team deep. The question is whether they have enough to stack up with the big boys like Denver and New England.
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Ken Whisenhunt is now the head coach of the Titans, meaning the offense has a chance to begin turning a corner. Whis has a reputation as a quarterback guru, having helped the likes of Big Ben and Kurt Warner. His next task is Jake Locker, who’s entering a make-or-break year in Tennessee and must overcome a history riddled with injuries.
Rookie Bishop Sankey is expected to eventually take over in the backfield, while Justin Hunter andKendall Wright are two budding stars at wide receiver. It may take a few months or even until next year, but this group has serious firepower.
Coordinator Ray Horton was looked over for a handful of head coaching jobs, but if he can transform this defense he should be on deck for one next offseason.
Top corner Alterraun Verner signed with Tampa Bay, while the bill remains out on former first-round pick Derrick Morgan, who has been moving all over the field in search of finding a niche.
This season the Titans are going to be learning Whisenhunt’s offense and Horton’s defense, while the coaches figure out which players will be a part of the franchise going forward. Tennessee has a chance to score a lot of points, but also give up a lot.
In the AFC South, they have a chance to win some games. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the team finish second in the division.