One season after increasing the distance of the extra point attempts, the NFL is looking into other ways to make the kicking game more difficult. According to the Toronto Sun, the NFL will be implanting a special chip into kicking balls to better evaluate the kicking game.
The league hopes to see how close the footballs align with the middle of the uprights in order to determine whether or not the league can decrease the width to increase the difficulty of kicks. In other words, the league wants to know how many kicks just barely sneak inside the uprights to see if narrowing the width and making those aforementioned kicks misses in the future would improve the product and variability on the field.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea. Kickers have continued to improve over the years to the point where attempts are almost automatic. There is still little reason to watch extra points, AFC Championship game aside, and if kicks were brought down to a 70% conversion rate across the league, perhaps they would be more valuable.
It turns out the league isn’t going to stop with the kicking balls. As those that closely followed DeflateGate know, kickers use separate footballs than those used on offense and the league wants to add chips to the offensive balls, too.
“All 32 NFL teams were recently informed of plans to use a chip-equipped ball for all plays based in part on feedback from a number of veteran quarterbacks,” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reports. “They were asked to ensure that the chip-equipped football felt similar to the traditional football and that it did not act differently in the air.”
The league is hoping to improve ball placement and the chip will help determine if the football crossed the first down or goal line markers. If this existed a few years ago, perhaps the infamous 4th and 2 would have gone in the Patriots favor.
This isn’t the first time the league claimed they would record football data, though. Last year, the league promised to look more into the inflation of footballs in the aftermath of DeflateGate, but buried the information once it validated the Patriots football measurements. Maybe these chips will track the internal pressure of the footballs.
There are plenty of other concerns about the chips. How will they help if the ball carrier is in a pile and no one can see if he’s on the ground? What if the ball is held sideways, or if the chip isn’t at the furthest progress point of the ball? Would they just change the rules so the chip has to pass the goal line for a score?
That said, this could help on plays in the open field and anything that marginally improves the game is good in my books.
Next up? Hopefully sideline cameras. Please.