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More Changes For Kickers? NFL Considering Shorter Goal Posts With Microchip Research

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The NFL's competition committee is always trying to innovate the game of football in order to make the spectacle more exciting than ever before. Last season it moved the extra point attempt  from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line. This year, it will be moving touchbacks from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line.

The extra point rule change, which was amended last offseason, seemed to work out well for the committee as extra point percentages dropped from 99.3 percent in 2014 to 94.2 percent in 2015. This change also sparked coaches, like Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, to go for two-point conversions more often rather than attempting a longer extra point. With the results, more rule changes are coming.

According to the Toronto Sun, in an interview with the NFL's senior vice-president of officiating, Dean Blandino stated that the committee is continuing to look into making field goal kicking even more challenging.

"The discussion has really revolved around narrowing the uprights," Blandino said during the phone interview from the league's annual officiating clinic. "That would be one way to affect both the extra point and the field goal. [Success rates] have continued to climb over the years as our field-goal kickers and that whole process has become so specialized, from long snapper to holder to kicker. We'll do some studies this year."

One study will start in the 2016 preseason, in which all balls used for extra point attempts will have a computer chip located inside the football in order for the committee to gather as much data as possible. Ideally, this data will determine the percentage of misses and accuracy, and help the congregation decide what the distance of the uprights should be and/or if they need changing.

Check out the top photos of Dustin Hopkins from the 2015 season.

The uprights current distance apart stands at 18 feet and six inches. The league did however use a 14-foot distance between each upright at the 2015 Pro Bowl to help this study and in that game Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal attempt, which is almost identical to the normal 32-yard extra point try now.

Despite the reports, these looming rule changes seem unlikely to affect Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins.

Hopkins, in his first season in Washington, made 25-of-28 field goals (89.3 percent) and 39-of-40 extra points (97.5 percent). The Florida State product also has the luxury of practicing with an Arena Football League size goalpost, located at the Redskins practice facility in Loudoun County, Va., thanks to former Redskins kicker Kai Forbath, who initially had them brought to the field.

If this rule change were to occur, say in the 2017 preseason, Hopkins, already using the mock arena football goalposts, seems to be comfortable enough with it.

"It can be [helpful]. Aim small, miss small. I think it helps," Hopkins said. "It translates over to a big goal post. You just have to remember if you miss one a foot left, it's really a make. It's hard to remember that sometimes. You're so focused on whether it went in or not."

The NFL's competition committee is always trying to innovate the game of football in order to make the spectacle more exciting than ever before.  Examples include moving the extra point attempt spot from the original two-yard line to now its new home, the 15-yard line and the newest, most notable rule change, moving touchbacks. The touchback, that once granted the receiving team 20 yards, is now moving the offense to the 25-yard line.

The extra point rule change, which was amended last offseason, seemed to work out for the committee as extra point percentages dropped from 99.3 percent in 2014 to 94.2 percent in 2015. This change also sparked coaches, like Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, to go for two-point conversions more often rather than attempting a longer extra point, and with this result, there are more rule changes coming.

According to the Toronto Sun, in an interview with the NFL's senior vice-president of officiating, Dean Blandino stated that the committee is continuing to look at making field-goal kicking more challenging.

"The discussion has really revolved around narrowing the uprights," Blandino said during the phone interview from the league's annual officiating clinic.  "That would be one way to affect both the extra point and the field goal. [Success rates] have continued to climb over the years as our field-goal kickers and that whole process has become so specialized, from long snapper to holder to kicker. We'll do some studies this year."

One study will be that during the 2016 preseason all balls used for extra point attempts will have a computer chip located inside the football in order for the committee to gather as much data as possible. Hopefully, this data will help the congregation decide what the distance of the uprights should be and if the uprights need changing.

The uprights current distance apart stands at 18 feet, 6 inches. The league did however use a 14-foot distance between each upright at the 2015 Pro Bowl to help this study and in that game Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 38-yard field goal attempt.

Despite the reports, these looming rule changes seem unlikely to affect Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins. Hopkins, in his first season in Washington, made 25 of his 28 attempted field goals (89.3 percent) and 39 of 40 attempted extra points (97.5 percent). The Florida State product also has the luxury of practicing with an Arena Football League size goalpost, located at the Redskins practice facility in Loudoun County, Va., thanks to former Redskins kicker Kai Forbath. Hopkins talked about the advantages of having the mock arena football goalposts.

"It can be [helpful]. Aim small, miss small. I think it helps," Hopkins said. "It translates over to a big goal post. You just have to remember if you miss one a foot left, it's really a make. It's hard to remember that sometimes. You're so focused on whether it went in or not."

This new rule change is in no way definite, but it will be experimented on come August 2016.

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