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Field Goals in the NFL


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SaintsFan and Wdm219inpenna have inspired me to post a borderline nonsensical rant about something in the NFL that bothers me. I hope you guys are happy.

It is my opinion that kickers have become so good that it is too easy to kick FGs in the NFL. I don't know the numbers, or trends, or any of that statistical nonsense; I just know that every year it seems to me that teams have to drive less and less yards in order to kick a FG. A 50-yard FG, which isn't really that uncommon anymore, only requires that you drive the ball to the 33 yard line. A 40-yard FG, which has become close to automatic, only requires a drive to the 23 yard line. Even if you drive to only the 40, you're facing a 57-yard attempt, which is certainly difficult, but can be made by many kickers.

I think more emphasis should be placed on accumulating yards and putting together big drives, and that a team shouldn't win an OT game because their kicker can kick really long. Maybe I'm still bitter about Matt Bryant's 62 yarder against the Eagles in '06... I don't know.

I'm not sure what I would do about this. Raise the crossbars? That would certainly make the 50+ yarders a little tougher. Narrow the uprights? Maybe, but I think that a lot of the good kickers could adjust to this.

Maybe make it a lot more advantageous to go for TDs instead of FGs - currently, 3FG > 1TD+1 or 2. I don't think that's right - I think that a touchdown should be worth at least as much as 3 FGs. What about making TDs 8? So 1TD+1 = 3FG, while 1TD+2 > 3 FG. I think that this would encourage more teams to go for it on 4th and 1 more often when they're on their opponent's side of the field. This would do nothing about the OT situation, but that would be covered by another hare-brained plan I have... which may get posted another time.

Also, what the heck is wrong with the boards? During the day it's becoming very difficult to read due to how slow it's gotten.

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i dont really agree about the in general play field goals. i think we have seen some pretty exciting missed attempts in recent weeks, and i dont think they are necessarily a given. for a team to make it to the 20 yard line and no further, i think its fine to have earned a shot at goal and i dont really have an issue with that.

however i do tend to agree with your point on ot field goals. id be interested to see the stats on games won in ot by field goal and in particular those won on the first drive of ot by the team that won the toss. it does seem that it is a big advantage to sin the toss and receive in that period which seems unfair.

edit: i immediately stand corrected, here are some interesting stats that seem to show that the advantage is very slightly weighted toward the team that wins the toss. with the slight anomaly of 2002. obviously these data sets are individually very small so there is very little to garner from an individual season.

Total no. of overtime games (1974–2003)

365

Both teams had at least one possession

261 (72 %)

Team won toss and won game

189 (52 %)

Team lost toss and won game

160 (44 %)

Team won toss and drove for winning score

102 (28 %)

Games ending in a tie

15 (5 %)

Overtime games in 2002

26

Both teams had at least one possession

15 (58 %)

Team won toss and won game

16 (62 %)

Team lost toss and won game

9 (35 %)

Team won toss and drove for winning score

10 (38 %)

Games ending in a tie

1 (3 %)

Overtime games in 2003

23

Both teams had at least one possession

16 (70 %)

Team won toss and won game

12 (52 %)

Team lost toss and won game

11 (48 %)

Team won toss and drove for winning score

6 (26 %)

Games ending in a tie

0 (0 %)

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I think more emphasis should be placed on accumulating yards and putting together big drives, and that a team shouldn't win an OT game because their kicker can kick really long. Maybe I'm still bitter about Matt Bryant's 62 yarder against the Eagles in '06... I don't know.

I'm not sure what I would do about this. Raise the crossbars? That would certainly make the 50+ yarders a little tougher. Narrow the uprights? Maybe, but I think that a lot of the good kickers could adjust to this.

I'm with you on this. I'd like to see two changes:

(1) Widen the hash marks to college football football width. I've heard arguments that wide hash marks harm the passing game, but I'm not sure if I buy that--college football tends to be more wide open than NFL football.

(2) In the first OT, FGs are not allowed.

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I disagree...

1) Generally, teams that settle for field goals don't win games. Touchdowns win games.

2) There is a risk/reward factor for longer field goals. A missed field 50 yard field goal gives the ball at the 40, the equivalent of an out-of-bounds kickoff.

3) I am in favor of making the following change in OT: If the team who receives first in OT goes down and kicks a field goal, the opposition has an opportunity to either match the score via field goal (then begin sudden death) or win via touchdown. So in summary:

On the opening possession:

Touchdown = Win

Field Goal = One possession continuation (which allows the other team to win via touchdown or tie via field goal)

Punt = Sudden death

As I said before, touchdowns win games. Not field goals.

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I don't have a problem with field goals and their increase as an element of game play. If OT concerns exist, the solution for that is fairly simply achieved by making a slight mod to the rules: a "first to 5" rule as opposed to sudden death. That way a team would have to score two field goals, a touchdown, or a field goal and a safety in overtime.

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The first to five rule doesnt work. What happens when a team kicks a field goal to make the score 23-20. If time expires is it a 23-20 tie? OT is fine the way it is. If you give up points, you probably arent going to win.

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I do agree that in the NFL field goals CAN be too easy.

Here is what I would like to see happen.

First off, and this would be a big change, but could be brought in only for field goal attempts or for overtime or in general for game play, but the ball could be snapped from where it is spotted. If it goes out of bounds have a point say 5 yards in from the sideline where it is spotted. Too many kicks at goal in Football are straight, and with a straight kick all you need to worry about is power. From the sidelines, the goal posts are in effect smaller, and so the accuracy of a kick becomes important.

I've said in other places, though, that if you don't win a game in regulation, you can't complain about losing it in overtime. But I think you could decide who gets first possesion in overtime based on something other than a toss of a coin (maybe which team had the most first downs gets to choose?)

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One rule I like in the CFL is that longer field goals (50+ yard attempts) are rewarded with four points instead of three. That way, it encourages a little more risky field goals than you'd usually see in a NFL game, due to the extra point.

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My problem is that the defensive side of the ball is taken out of the equation. If a team is good enough to hold the other team out of range, then they deserve the ball back. Likewise, I feel that if they can't the other team with their special teams or defense, they don't deserve the ball back.

The problem with the overtime system is that it doesn't allow both teams a chance to touch or defend the ball. The worst way to fix this would be to take out a part of the game (be it from having to have five points to win, to taking out field goals, to some contrived winning situations). The best way to fix it would be to shorten quarters to 5:00 with three timeouts, and play the whole thing out. Whoever has the most points wins, and if they are tied, so be it. In the playoffs, you would continue until you had a winner.

Addressing the field goals, I would think a move to the college hash marks could work, or possibly raising the crossbar. This could be easily fixed to eliminate 50 yard sure fires. Remember though that for some kickers it may be automatic, but for some it's not.

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The first to five rule doesnt work. What happens when a team kicks a field goal to make the score 23-20. If time expires is it a 23-20 tie? OT is fine the way it is. If you give up points, you probably arent going to win.

I think it should be First to 5 and if the scores is 23-20 at the end of OT then the team with the FG wins. I could rally behind that suggestion.

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One rule I like in the CFL is that longer field goals (50+ yard attempts) are rewarded with four points instead of three. That way, it encourages a little more risky field goals than you'd usually see in a NFL game, due to the extra point.

Every time I hear this suggestion, I respond the same way - it is absolutely stupid. A stupid rule like this might encourage a team to actually back up so that they can attempt a super long field goal. Teams should be rewarded for gaining yards and driving toward the end zone. The field goal is like a consolation prize if you can't get there. YOu should never have an extra reward for a team that couldn't move the ball.

Put the hashmarks out where college has them. I don't understand why hashmarks in the NFL are only the width of the goalposts.

Maybe somewhere in between. I don't want to see the NFL turn into an option league, but slightly-wider hash marks could open up a lot of new things, and maybe make the kicks tougher.

My point is just that you don't really have to drive too far anymore to get three points. Kickers shouldn't be stars in this league - they should just be... there.

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Put the hashmarks out where college has them. I don't understand why hashmarks in the NFL are only the width of the goalposts.

By the same token, I've never understood why college hashmarks are wider than the goalposts.

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My only gripe is that I detest OT games being decided by a FG on the first possession. After a (usually) great slugfest, having such a game end that way seems anti-climatic. That said, changes such as narrowing the goal posts or changes to the hash marks I would not be in favor of.

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It is my opinion that kickers have become so good that it is too easy to kick FGs in the NFL.

There were a lot of in-season kicking changes this season, mainly due to performance.

The only difference today is that kickers are stronger-legged than kickers before, just as the health practices of any other professional athlete are getting better and better.

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Put the hashmarks out where college has them. I don't understand why hashmarks in the NFL are only the width of the goalposts.

By the same token, I've never understood why college hashmarks are wider than the goalposts.

But if you widen the NFL hashes, it would make it easier for teams to get out of bounds in a 2-minute drill. I mean you occasionally see someone get kept in bound to keep the clock running. Making the hashes closer to the sidelines only makes it harder for the D to keep someone in.

It could also make it much harder to use one side of the field if given less room to work with considering how much more sophisticated the defenses are.

Also, with wider hashes, it does make field goals harder. You have to kick the ball further to go through from the hash then on the same yard line right down the middle (remember geometry class? If you're kicking a 30 yard field goal it becomes more than 30 as you move off to either side, think of the distance to the goalpost and the distance from the hash to the middle of the goalpost as your 2 sides of a right triangle and the straight line that connects the two points as the hypotenuse...which would be > 30 yards).

It also makes CLOSER field goals harder I'd imagine since the angle that you have to kick it becomes much more exaggerated.

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SaintsFan and Wdm219inpenna have inspired me to post a borderline nonsensical rant about something in the NFL that bothers me. I hope you guys are happy.

This is how it begins. One day you're BBTV, a bright and highly respected member of this community. The next we're reading 18 paragraph dissertations on how great hockey would be if it just added first downs or how awesome it would be if game 7 of the World Series was played in Tokyo every season.

It's a cautionary tale.

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It is my opinion that kickers have become so good that it is too easy to kick FGs in the NFL.

There were a lot of in-season kicking changes this season, mainly due to performance.

The only difference today is that kickers are stronger-legged than kickers before, just as the health practices of any other professional athlete are getting better and better.

Right. The same rules and specifications that were designed for skinny and slow (by today's standards) players in the 1930's weren't made with today's players in mind. Back then, who would have thought that players would 1. be full time athletes, and 2. therefore be so much bigger, faster, and stronger than the players of that era? I know that all sports have changed their rules a bit over time, NBA probably the most, but IMO every sport needs an adjustment to account for today's players. Look at the NBA - fundamental skills have deteriorated so much, possibly because dunking and making close-range shots is no challenge to these athletes. Maybe raising the hoop by a foot, or making the court bigger could bring the game back to the way it was intended? Kickers in the NFL used to be those Lou Groza straight-ahead booters who were really hit or miss. I would have to believe that the NFL brass would have made the rules different back in the day had they known that kicking would develop into the specialized skill that it is.

Kinda like the argument that the constitution was written for an era in which the technologies and challenges of today couldn't possibly have been imagined, and needs a major revision... but that's definitely for another thread (one that I won't be starting!)

SaintsFan and Wdm219inpenna have inspired me to post a borderline nonsensical rant about something in the NFL that bothers me. I hope you guys are happy.

This is how it begins. One day you're BBTV, a bright and highly respected member of this community. The next we're reading 18 paragraph dissertations on how great hockey would be if it just added first downs or how awesome it would be if game 7 of the World Series was played in Tokyo every season.

It's a cautionary tale.

Tokyo, eh? Your ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

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