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NFL MEETINGS : Coaches Reach the Point to Consider Two

March 22, 1994|BILL PLASCHKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ORLANDO, Fla. — When the NFL passes its two-point conversion rule, probably today, coaches everywhere will celebrate like . . . well, like coaches.

Most of them say it won't matter.

Most of them say they will rarely use it.

Most of them say that after scoring a touchdown to pull within one point in the final minute, they aren't even going to think about a two-point conversion and a victory.

These gambling men said they would kick for one point and a tie score, then take their chances in overtime.

Most of them said that. But not all.

"Hell, I might go for the win," said Jimmy Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys. " 'Course, I never do what other coaches do, anyway."

Last season, the two-point conversion was attempted after only 9% of the touchdowns scored in college football. It was successful 43% of the time.

Listening to the coaches, it will be tried much less in the NFL, even though the ball will be spotted on the two-yard line, one yard closer than in college.

"We're talking about gaining two yards in front of their goal line--sometimes in this league you have trouble gaining two inches ," said Wayne Fontes of the Detroit Lions. "There will not be as many attempts as people think."

Wade Phillips of the Denver Broncos reminded that, like baseball managers, football coaches play the percentages. And the percentages of a successful two-point conversion are too poor for most coaches.

"Let's say you have a 99% chance of kicking the extra point and going into overtime . . . and less than a 50% chance of making a two-point conversion and winning outright," he said. "What do you think we're going to do?"

The two-point conversion will be most useful, coaches said, to teams that are trailing early.

"You are down by 16 points and you can get it all back with two touchdowns, that's what you are going to do," New Orleans' Jim Mora said. "But at the end of the game, I'm kicking and going into overtime."

Mora smiled, adding, "And then I'll be called more conservative than ever."

The other rule expected to pass today--moving the kickoff from the 35-yard line to the 30--has given Buddy Ryan of the Arizona Cardinals an idea.

"I'm going to hire me an option quarterback to be my two-point quarterback," Ryan said. "When he's not doing that, he can return kicks for me under that other new rule. I'll pay the guy $100 and he'll be worth every penny."

All coaches agreed that no matter what their decision, it will be easier than everyone thinks to decide whether to go for two after a touchdown. They plan to draw up a chart listing different situations and the proper two-point decisions in those situations.

"You won't even have to think," Ryan said. "It will be written on the bench. You walk over, look down, then look up and say, 'Going for two!' It's easy."

*

Despite the worries of Newport Beach inventor Randy May, a rule allowing the use of the audibilizer within the 20- or 30-yard line will be proposed today. The Competition Committee will try to persuade ownership that May can manufacture 13 helmet microphones by Labor Day.

*

The Minnesota Vikings have had talks with the Houston Oilers about obtaining Warren Moon. The other quarterback looking for a trade, Jeff George of the Indianapolis Colts, might be traded to the Atlanta Falcons by the end of the week.

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