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Zuerlein no fan of preseason extra-point experiment/PD

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by RamBill, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. RamBill Well-Known Member

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    Zuerlein no fan of preseason extra-point experiment
    • By Jim Thomas

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/foot...cle_09538ede-871f-5fc2-917c-395ca5b5e6c9.html

    Don’t be confused Friday when you see the ball snapped from the 15-yard line after touchdowns in the Rams’ exhibition opener, against visiting New Orleans.

    In an NFL experiment, all extra points (other than 2-point conversions) will be snapped from the 15 during the first two full weeks of exhibition play, making it the equivalent distance of a 33-yard field goal.

    Rams kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein is not a fan.

    “I don’t know why they’d change it, but I don’t make those decisions,” he said, laughing. “We’ll see what happens. I mean, obviously if you move it back you’ll probably have a few more misses.”

    At the NFL owners’ meetings last March, there was talk about moving the PAT line back because the extra point was not a competitive play. The result had become too predictable, or so the argument went. During the 2013 regular season, place-kickers made 1,262 of 1,267 attempts. That’s only five misses, for a success rate of 99.6 percent.

    But instead of voting on a rules change in March, the league decided to move the line of scrimmage back 13 yards — to the 15. So instead of kicking the ball from a distance of 20 yards for an extra point, the kick now comes from 33 yards away this week and next during the preseason.

    “I don’t see why you’d want to change the game,” Zuerlein said. “It’s been like this since football’s been around. They don’t change the rules because quarterbacks are throwing for more yards or it’s turned into a pass-offense league. So I don’t see why you’d change it for kickers if you don’t change it for anyone else.”

    Even so, Zuerlein says, “I don’t mind it. Whatever they do, we’ll adjust. You know, go from there.”

    Originally, the plan was to have the line of scrimmage at the 20 for PATs for the first couple of weeks of exhibition play, which would’ve have made it a 38-yard kick. It was subsequently moved up to the 15.

    That makes it a distance of 33 yards when you factor in the goal posts being at the back of the end zone (which adds 10 yards to the kick), and the eight-yard distance from snapper to holder on place-kicks.

    A 33-yard kick still is a chip-shot, but it’s not as automatic as the traditional extra point. Last season in the NFL, there were 295 field goals attempted from a distance of 30 to 39 yards. Kickers made 265 of them, an 89.8 percent success rate.

    But that still meant there were 30 misses. So if the extra point line of scrimmage is moved back permanently, a missed extra point here or there could make a difference in a tight game.

    “You can’t hit a perfect ball every time,” Zuerlein said. “If you go back and look at some of the PATs that you hit, some of ’em just squeak in. And that’s from (20 yards). So obviously, there’s gonna be misses (at 33 yards).

    “Hopefully, I can put all mine in, and I don’t have to deal with any of that. But we’ll see. It’s only for two games. And then they’ll have a ruling on that, I guess.”

    Zuerlein went 10 for 10 from 30-39 yards on field goals last year. But he was only four for six as a Rams rookie in 2012. One of those rookie misses from that distance came in the wind and rain in Miami.

    If the NFL is going to move back the extra-point line of scrimmage, in effect penalizing kickers for their uncanny accuracy, why not reward them for distance? How about awarding four points for a field goal of 50 yards or more?

    Zuerlein, who made a franchise record seven field goals of 50 yards or more as a rookie in 2012, might not be such a traditionalist if that were the case.

    “That’d be cool. I can go for that,” he chuckled. “That’s a cool thing to think about. But no, I think it should stay the way it is.”

    Zuerlein was a rookie sensation with his long-distance bombs before cooling off around midseason. He was much more consistent last season, missing only two of 28 field goals attempted.

    “I was really proud of him, really the last three, four weeks of the (2013) season,” special teams coordinator John Fassel said. “I thought he was stronger the last month than at any point in his first year. Or even last year up to that point.”

    Fassel had Zuerlein back down on some of his offseason kicking during the 2012-13 offseason, and that may have kept Zuerlein’s leg fresher over the long haul of the regular season in 2013.

    This offseason, Zuerlein took a more traditional approach.

    “This summer I got back to it a little sooner and I started lifting more instead of taking all that time off,” said the Missouri Western product. “So we’ll see how it goes. We’ve got a ways to go until the season.”

    Zuerlein made a few minor tweaks in his mechanics this offseason, but nothing crazy.

    “Just little things here and there where I think I can get better,” he said. “Especially on kickoffs. I can get a lot better there. I just haven’t been hitting the ball really that well on kickoffs pretty much my whole career here, I feel.”

    That’s hard to tell by the numbers. Zuerlein had 52 touchbacks in 2013, tied for fourth most in the NFL. All told, only 24 of his 76 kickoffs were returned.

    “There’s some things we’re working on, on kickoffs,” Fassel said. “And on field goals he knows that his leg strength is dynamite and we’re working on putting it right down the middle every time.”
     
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