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Kaufman: NFL to consider extra points from 25-yard line

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Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Every NFL head coach realizes that having your game-management skills questioned is part of the basic job description.

It may soon be an even bigger part. The league is wrestling with the idea of radically changing the dynamics of the extra-point kick.

When owners and executives meet Monday in Orlando for the start of the league’s annual three-day session, some key alterations to the game will be discussed.

The Patriots have proposed moving the spot of the extra-point try out to the 25-yard line to inject some suspense into what has become a rubber-stamp seventh point following a touchdown.

The league is likely to experiment with that idea in the preseason before deciding whether the New England proposal is feasible down the road. While NFL kickers have improved their overall accuracy markedly in the past few decades, a 42-yard extra point try shouldn’t trigger a mass exodus to the rest room or the refrigerator.

And even though a kicker like Connor Barth, expected to return to the Bucs this season after missing 2013 with a torn Achilles, has converted 25 of his last 27 field-goal attempts between the 40-49, adverse weather conditions will often come into play.

The NFL is not considering moving the ball back from the 2-yard line for 2-point tries, so coaches will be under intense scrutiny as they proceed after each touchdown.

And with the 2-point try succeeding at a 50 percent clip in the past three years, it might make more strategic sense to go for two a majority of the time – particularly if you have big targets to throw to or you’re saddled with a mediocre middle-distance kicker.

Another issue bound to come up in Orlando is the momentum steadily building for an expanded playoff field.

Right now, 12 of 32 teams qualify for the postseason, with the top two finishers in each conference earning first-round byes.

Seeking more NFL revenue, and hoping to generate increased late-season interest for teams on the playoff fringes, the league appears intrigued with the idea of extending playoff invitations to one additional club from each conference.

That would increase the playoff percentage in the league from 38 percent to 44 percent and limit the byes to the No. 1 seeds in each conference.

Bad idea. In this case, less is more.

Why would the most successful sport in America want to be more like the NBA and the NHL? It should be considered an honor to earn a place at the postseason feast – not an annual rite for perennially strong teams like the Patriots and Colts.

Growing the playoff field already has the blessing of the influential Competition Committee, chaired by former Bucs GM Rich McKay, now president of the Falcons.

“With respect to expansion of the playoffs and last year’s report, if you went back and looked at it you would see we took a position on expanded playoffs and you would see we supported expanded playoffs,’’ McKay said. “Likewise, we have gone back and looked at that position and rewritten that position and put it in the back of the book. I wouldn’t want to give it to you verbatim or where we stand with respect to it, although I think last year’s might give you an indication.’’

McKay would make a heck of a politician, wouldn’t he?

Speaking of our nation’s capital, the Redskins may not know how to win consistently, but they sure know how to fill an agenda.

Washington’s proposals for the upcoming season include moving the kickoff to the 40. If you listen closely enough, you can hear Devin Hester screaming “That’s cold,’’ all the way from Atlanta.

Washington also wants to expand instant replay to include personal foul penalties and eliminate overtime periods in preseason games.

And as much as I hate to agree with Redskins GM Bruce Allen on anything, I can’t see much opposition to that last item.

ikaufman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7833

Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO

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