Dirk Koetter knows that he should be going for two a lot more often, but he really doesn’t want to. Which is why he came up with a silly rationalization to not do so, as he explained to Steve Duemig of 620 WDAE this morning (via JoeBucsFan).
"We’ve studied it, and mathematically, it does make sense," Koetter said of going for a two-point conversion every time.
"The hard thing is, you know, it’s like 48 percent," Koetter said. "Say we go out there that first game, and we score three touchdowns and we don’t make any two pointers and we lose 21-18. Who’s going to get killed? You’re going to be on 620 [radio] and you’re going to be dog-cussin’ me the whole time.
Obviously, "sports radio won’t like me" is a terrible reason not to go for two. But even on its face, the hypothetical scenario Koetter gave doesn’t work. To see why this doesn’t make any sense, we just need to reframe the hypothetical scenario:
What if you have one of those games where you lose by one point, because you didn’t go for two?
Koetter’s argument gets stuck in the status quo, he’s approaching it as if kicking extra points is the normal, and what happens if we change it? But if we simply approach kicking PATs and going for two as two separate scenarios, then we can make up hypotheticals in which taking either approach will be the cause of a loss. The mere fact that you could lose a game because of your choice isn’t a good argument, because it’s true for kicking extra points, too.
That doesn’t mean there’s no good argument to stick with extra points. There is: it’s called predictability. Getting one point consistently can be more valuable than getting two points slightly more than 50% of the time. That depends on a lot of factors: if you run a low-scoring team, you’ll want to take more risk. If you run a high-scoring team, you probably want more consistency. If you have a bad defense, you want to go for two, because you’re more likely to need a few extra points. If you have a very good defense, the consistency will be more important.
And, of course, all of this depends on how confident you are in your ability to score in the red zone. If you can’t consistently score from the two-yard line, there’s no point in going for two. If you’re kicker never misses an extra point, that may swing the decision toward kicking extra points as well. The mathematics are a little complicated, but
So go for two or don’t, either decision is defensible. Koetter needs to find a better reason than "Steve Duemig may yell at me", though.