Labriola On

Labriola on fixing the PAT, 'flabby' QBs

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Ready or not, here it comes:

  • So the consensus at the NFL Owners Meetings was to investigate changes that would make the extra point more like a football play, because the automatic nature of the conversion has become unacceptable. The proposals range from moving the ball from the 2-yard line closer to the goal line to entice more coaches to attempt a two-point conversion, to moving the ball back to make the kick longer, to some narrowing of the goal posts to make it a smaller target for contemporary kickers.
  • There's too much tinkering with the rules going on, for my taste. Football is a great game, and the basic rules of the sport have been changed too much lately. In those cases where player safety is at issue, those changes have merit and can be understood, but this seems overly gimmicky.
  • But if gimmicks are to be the answer, here's one to consider: go back to the era when placekickers also played a position. Make the kicker be more than just a kicker, and the automatic nature of the extra point will change.
  • There was a time in the 1960s when Green Bay used halfback Paul Hornung as its kicker, when the Steelers used defensive lineman Lou Michaels and/or quarterback Bobby Layne, when the Cleveland Browns used tackle Lou Groza. It wasn't until the late 1960s, with the proliferation of the soccer-style kickers, that the job became a true specialty in the NFL.
  • Bobby Layne finished his Hall of Fame NFL career as a quarterback having made 34-of-50 field goal attempts (68 percent) and 120-of-124 extra points (96.8 percent). Michaels played defensive end and kicked for the Rams, Steelers, Colts and Packers during a career that spanned 1958-71. With the Steelers, Michaels converted 62-of-109 field goals (56.9 percent) and 90-of-96 extra points (93.8 percent).
  • In 1962, Michaels, a left-footed kicker, set what then was an NFL record with 26 field goals, but he needed 42 attempts to do it, and his 61.9 percent success rate was considered good but not great.
  • "It's a soft touch just to kick, but if you play the entire game at defensive end and kick, too, you have the added pressure," said Michaels in a 1963 interview. "If you blow a kick, you have to play all the harder at end. This can be a great incentive at times, and I find myself giving one or the other an extra effort."
  • Make kickers also play a position, and not only would the automatic nature of the extra point be eliminated, but coaches also would be more likely to be aggressive on offense deeper into the opponent's territory because long field goal attempts would become a much riskier proposition.
  • Jameis Winston declined the NFL's invitation to be in Chicago for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and he got some criticism for his decision. Then it comes out that the reason Winston wanted to stay home was to share the moment with his grandmother, who has type-2 diabetes and cannot travel to the event.
  • In relatively short order, it also was learned that Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 quarterback prospect in this draft, and Maxx Williams, the No. 1 tight end, declined invitations to Chicago as well. Mariota's reason was that he believed it was important for him personally and culturally to go through the experience at his family's home in Hawaii. Williams also said his preference is to go through the experience in his home with his family.
  • Not everybody is bailing on a nationally televised hug-it-out moment with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Kevin White, a difference-making wide receiver prospect considered a certain top-10 pick, accepted his invitation and seems genuinely excited about the experience.
  • Good for Kevin White. And good for Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Max Williams, too. If guys want to participate in a television show and the network televising the show is interested in having them participate, great. If guys don't want to participate, or if the network isn't interested in a certain individual, that's OK, too.
  • But everybody needs to realize that it's only a television show. It says nothing about the prospect's potential for a long and decorated professional career. It says nothing about the prospect's personal character, or love of the game, or desire to become a great professional, or willingness to do the kind of work to make it all possible. Or at least it didn't when Joe Thomas blew it off in 2007 to spend the day fishing with his dad.
  • Officially, the NFL says each player can decide whether or not to attend the draft, but there's also some opinion that since the draft is the NFL's biggest offseason event, and the league wants to use it to market its new stars, those invited should cooperate and attend.
  • In my experience, the best way to encourage cooperation is through financial remuneration. This whole enterprise has to be making money, or it wouldn't be providing so many hours of programming on two different networks over the three-day period. Offer an appearance fee. After all, this isn't the NCAA.
  • It would be nice for the Steelers to add a free agent cornerback before the draft, but the reality of the situation has become that any free agent they could add now wouldn't necessarily even make the 53-man roster the team sets for the start of the regular season.
  • Will Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, and B.W. Webb are players with some NFL regular season game experience, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Steelers used more than one draft pick on this position during the upcoming draft.
  • Like it or not, Steelers fans, but your favorite team is going to be depending on Cortez Allen to a large degree in 2015.
  • Saw some photos from the Florida State pro day in which Jameis Winston was shirt-less, which soon led to observations that he's "flabby."
  • To those who made that case, I have two things:
  • Did you ever see the old scouting combine photo of Tom Brady, which is Exhibit A that a less-than-well-defined upper body has nothing to do with becoming a great NFL quarterback and marrying a supermodel?
  • And, did you look in your own mirror this morning to see what flabby really looks like?
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