If the New York Jets are doing it right, Nick Folk should be dead last in extra points made next season. By right, I don’t mean impersonating the 1976 Buccaneers and rarely scoring, either. I’m talking about using Tim Tebow on two-point conversion attempts after every touchdown, until late game strategy dictates otherwise.
Teams go for the extra point instead of going for two, until mandated by late game situations, for a couple of reasons. The first, tradition and safety, is why coaches make a lot of decisions. Extra points have been around forever; the two-point conversion attempt was not adopted by the NFL until 1994 (the AFL used it until the merger). Thus, the norm is the extra point. It’s also the lower risk strategy, as the point is almost assured. Coaches tend to think about the negative and the potential loss of a point far more than the positive potential gain.
The other reason is that typically, the extra point has the slightly higher value. Last year, kickers made 99.4% of extra points attempted. The two point conversion rate typically hovers around 45%. Of course, that overstates the difference, because a percentage of “two point attempts” are really failed extra points, where the holder tries to run or pass after bobbling the snap. The true rates are closer, but if an average team employed a strategy of going for two instead of kicking the extra point, they would lose about 1 to 2 points over the course of an entire season.
The Jets, though, should press their advantage and disregard tradition when it comes to extra points. They should line up for two point conversions with Tim Tebow at QB after every score, until late game strategy dictated otherwise.
The Jets will surely use Tim Tebow in two point packages when they do attempt them. I’m just taking it a step further. Always use him, because it is a positive advantage for producing points. I would wager you that if the Jets used Tim Tebow on two-point plays, he would convert more than 50%.
Last year, the Denver Broncos were officially 3 for 5 on two-point attempts in games where Tim Tebow started. One of those involved the holder trying to run after a botched snap. In the other four, Denver went 3 for 3 on runs, and 0 for 1 on passes. Current Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano witnessed the first of those, when Denver completed a comeback against his Dolphins, after a Tebow run to send the game to overtime. Chris Brown of Smart Football, writing for Grantland, had a breakdown of that play design.
QB Draws, Power O like the play above with Tebow acting as the back, inside draws to the running back, zone reads, sprint outs where Tebow has a run pass option to a fullback or H-back – the Jets should be adding all these plays. Then, they should run them every opportunity near the goal line they get, including two pointers.
In addition to those two point conversions, Tim Tebow’s teams are 4 for 5 in scoring touchdowns on running plays at the 3 yard line or closer. That miss, though, came at the end of the Minnesota game when Denver had no incentive to score, and Tebow centered the ball. When he is actually trying to score from the 3 yard line or closer, Tim Tebow is 7 for 7 on scoring touchdowns on running plays in the NFL. That’s a small sample size, but he was also a very good goal line player in college–almost unstoppable at the stripe.
When he passes, though, different story. Tim Tebow was only 2 of 8 on passes inside the 3. Four of those came on four consecutive plays in the fourth quarter of the playoff game against New England from the 3 yard line. I’m not sure what’s more ridiculous. That Tebow has thrown more passes than runs inside the three, or that in over a full season of action, Denver has only run 13 plays from inside the 3 on offense. Most of Denver’s touchdowns with Tebow have come from further out, but that shows how poorly they have moved the ball. When he gets near the end zone, though, he has been to this point underutilized.
The Jets were at the wrong end of a Tebow rally last year, and also saw him score on a 5 yard run in his rookie year in a goal line package. Sparano witnessed first hand what he could do in the two point conversion last year. If the Jets are smart, they not only adopt it, but go full out Tebow Time after every touchdown.
How much could it matter? Last year, New York scored 30 touchdowns in the first three quarters of games.
Well, if Tebow only converts at the same rate from the 3 yard line or in as he has for his career (9 for 16), then it’s almost 4 points over a season. Coaches obsess over little things, so a strategy that could result in four more points is not inconsequential. It’s not going to win a Super Bowl alone, but it optimizes points.
That percentage, though assumes the same rate, which involved a sub-optimal run/pass ratio. The real Tebow ratio should be more like 80/20, not 45/55. If Tebow can convert two pointers at a 60% clip, that is an extra touchdown over the course of a year. 64% is almost extra 10 points.
I don’t know what Tebow would average, but my guess is that while he wouldn’t be perfect as teams adapted, the chances of him exceeding 60% are better than being significantly below 50% and making the strategy sub-optimal. To this point, he has not been utilized all out. Fox got praised a fair amount last year, but was honestly very conservative in using Tebow in the one area his skills dictated it, short yardage. Denver was a punting machine on 4th and 1 or 2. They only went for two points when they absolutely had to.
The Jets just spent a fair amount on Tebow. They should go all out with him, and commit to going for two after touchdowns. If you are going to get the circus, might as well put on a show.