Although NFL coaches have a level of expertise about the game of football that most of us will never approach, it’s hard to give them the benefit of the doubt when they’ve collectively demonstrated an inability to master basic tactical decisions — like when you should go for 2 points when your team is down 2 points (spoiler: pretty much always).
There is no excuse for professional coaches to make such simple mistakes. If you’re a coach, you should be doing this analysis yourself — or doing it better. If you’re still kicking extra points 14 times more often than going for 2, you’re not doing your job. If you’re in the sports media and you haven’t mastered this material, and won’t hold coaches accountable for not doing their jobs, then you’re not doing your job either.
I love small multiples and the FiveThirtyEight blog. This post about when a football team should go for two points instead of one after a touchdown was interesting and they really took coaches to task. Go for two more!
In the chart (below), orange means go for 2, purple means kick the extra point.9 Each vertical line within each mini-chart represents a range from a terrible 2-point conversion team (40 percent conversion rate) at the bottom to an amazing one (55 percent) at the top. That range is pretty wide and should cover most knowable matchup advantages, like facing a particularly good defense, having injured players, it being windy, your team being an underdog, etc. (We’ll disregard how these excuses seem to lead every coach to make the same decisions every time.)