The Under-Reported NFL Story of 2011

Longtime reader and blogger Eddy Elfenbein crunches the numbers on NFL kicking accuracy. If you think passing numbers are through the roof, check this out:

This season, kickers have nailed 45 of their 63 attempts from 50 yards or more. That’s more accurate than the league was from any distance 25 years ago. Since 1994, long range accuracy has doubled and long-range attempts-per-game are up by more than 63% from just five years ago.

There's bound to be some regression to the mean, and bad weather has yet to set in, but those numbers are a very high perch from which to fall and they're part of a very long-term trend.

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13 Responses to “The Under-Reported NFL Story of 2011”

  1. Phil Birnbaum says:

    Wow! What's going on?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just remember folks, wait until the end of the season. Yes - accuracy has certainly increased over time, but before we go crazy and say that this year the long kicks are out of line, wait until those cold kicks outdoors. I know that football outsiders is a dirty word around here, but I'm pretty sure there's an essay on the impact of weather on field goals in one of their first Almanacs.

    If I recall correctly, they ended up classifying each stadium as one of Domed, Outdoors (North), Outdoors (South), and Denver (I think Mexico City ended up being classified in here too for the game that was played there). In every game played outdoors, the later the season went, the less accurate kicks became, and it was worse in cold weather. Denver ended up being a special case because the altitude is just ridiculous.

  3. Chuck says:

    i'd be interested in seeing a historical comparison of accuracy in sept/oct vs. nov/dec. how about completion % for those months.

  4. James says:

    I'm more impressed by the increase in the number of attempts. 63% is a lot!

  5. Matt says:

    I think they need to narrow the goal posts. The kickers are just too good. They should also widen the hash marks. In return, they can go back to spotting missed kicks at the line of scrimmage instead of the spot of the kick.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Don't widen the hash marks! It reduces the size of one side of the field for the offense.

  7. Brian Burke says:

    I'm still in favor of making the player who scored the TD kick the XP.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Any rule that makes the NFL less of a passing league, I'd be totally in favor of. Not because I dislike passing, but because I'm a little weary of seeing otherwise mediocre teams be lifted to Super Bowl Favorite status because of their superstar QBs.

    For a game that requires 22 starters, it seems weird to have one player have so much say in who wins and loses.

  9. Anonymous says:

    When it gets to playoff time Defense>Offense see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's success

  10. Anonymous says:

    You mean their four combined Super Bowls out of the last ten?

  11. James says:

    Not to mention their 6 appearances.

  12. Ian B says:

    Does this mean that improved kickers are slowly making coaches' reluctance to go for it on 4th down more justified? Higher EPA for kicks? Gotta go back and re-read those articles to see how big the differences were in win probability.

  13. Steveo says:

    Make extra points be kicked from where the touchdown is scored, similar to rugby (maybe, to a maximum of 7 yards from the sideline). It would make kicking a field goal from near the sidelines very tough, encouraging teams to go for 2 more often! That doesn't do anything for the other field goal issues, but I think would be fun to see!

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