How Much Does Kicking in a Dome Help?

It seems pretty obvious that the ideal situation to kick in would be inside of a dome, but how much more accurate does it make kickers?

Over the past five seasons, from 2010 to 2014, there were five domed stadiums in play: Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Minnesota (excluding 2014). We’ll ignore retractable roofs for this study.

There was an average of 995 field goal attempts each season in the NFL, which comes out to about 31 per kicker.

Field goals in our focus group—those kicked in domes—had an 85.8% success rate (601 of 700). Those kicked in the non-domed stadiums had an 83.6% success rate (3575 of 4276).

So yes, our prediction that kickers would be more accurate in domes does appear to be true. The catch is that they were only 2.2% better than non-dome percentage. If kickers attempt 31 field goals in a season, being 2.2% worse is affecting just over half of a field goal.

I would take any extra advantage I could get, but over a season three points is not a whole heck of a lot.

Appendix: Fantasy Football

An oft-repeated bit of advice in fantasy football is to grab a kicker who plays in a dome, based on the aforementioned thinking that kickers in domes are more accurate. As we just saw while that is technically true, it won’t have much affect over the whole season.

The bigger fault with this thinking is that team offenses have a much larger effect on kickers than the stadium. It is odd that this thinking persists when the kickers in domes over the past three years have finished in these positions among kickers with standard fantasy kicker scoring: 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 22nd, 22nd, 24th, 29th, 34th.

The top three, with the first, third, and fourth rankings were Blair Walsh, Matt Bryant and Jason Hanson, but nobody would have been able to take advantage as all three had those outstanding seasons in 2012.

Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

Stranded

Dexter Fowler is stranded,
Between first and second,
He can try to advance hence,
Or retreat,
But delay as he might,
He is surrounded,
And the abyss will run him down.
We are all Dexter Fowler.

Fowler

With Extra Point Changes, Should Teams Go For Two Instead?

The PAT, or more officially the “try,” has been around for decades, but the NFL has decided that kickers nowadays have gotten so good that things need to be a little more challenging when it comes to extra points. Thus teams in 2015 will be given a choice: Either snap the ball from the 15-yard line to kick the extra point (making it a 33-yard kick) or keep the ball on the two and go for the two-point conversion.

This leads to a few questions, like how much tougher will this make converting extra points? And knowing that, does it now make more sense to keep the ball at the two and go for two points?

Kickers in 2014 made 114 of 118 (97%) of field goals from 30 to 33 yards, and more specifically 32 of 33 (97%) kicks from the 33-yard line. It’s not quite as automatic as extra points were–just eight of 1251 (99%) PATs were missed–but with the increased amount of emphasis on kicks from that range, it is probably a safe bet that the 97% clip won’t drop much. (If it holds at a 97% mark, it would mean about 38 missed XPs rather than eight. That’s about one per team per year.)

So if moving the ball back won’t have much effect, we should just keep kicking, right?

Over the past five seasons teams have gone for two 289 times and converted 189, which comes out to a 48% success rate. Assuming the 33-yard FG rate holds, on average a team is scoring an average of .97 points per PAT (1pt x 97%). By converting 48% of two-point attempts (2pts x 48%) on average going for two is worth .96 points.

2pts

(Click to embiggen.)

The two options are surprisingly even in terms of value, considering that teams elect to kick the PAT after 97% of TDs. This discrepancy makes it tough to give a clear recommendation. If the number of attempted two-point conversions increases, it could mean the 48% success rate will rise or drop to a degree (especially against teams with a weak/strong goal line defense) that it may make more or less sense to go for two more (or less).

If teams, for example, could start converting two-point conversions at anything over a 50% clip, it would make it worth going for every time. Take a similar situation: There were 44 occurrences last season in which teams went for it on 4th and two; the teams converted 26 (59%). If teams could keep that rate for two-point conversions, they would be worth an average of 1.18 points. That’s worth about an extra seven points over the season (it’s not much, but nobody would turn down an extra touchdown).

As it stands now though, the numbers say there is virtually no advantage in either option. We’re talking about less than half a point per season. Moving the extra point attempt back may lead to teams going for two more often, which could change things, but if the conversion rates stay consistent, it won’t make any difference at all.

So whether your team lines up to go for two or just trots out the kicker as if nothing has changed: Don’t worry, they’re safe either way.

Promoting Brands on Social Media, Some Observations

Most people are now on some type of social media (read: the internet), so naturally most businesses have followed them. Some lessons learned promoting businesses:

Why are you doing this?

There’s a coffee shop about a mile from my house. It hasn’t changed much over the last 80 years. It’s popular and well known throughout the town. Its coffee and chocolate milkshakes are good. Its Twitter account sucks.

Having supported itself for so long with local customers, and with no indication of a desire to expand, there is no reason it needs to be tweeting.

Like a lot of other companies though, it mistook social media as just another advertising platform, and a free one at that. That’s a bad way to be effective in the social media game because it quickly becomes evident that all you are doing is repeating, Coffee here. Buy it.

You can get away with Coffee here. Buy it. if it’s a television or radio commercial, but when people have the ability talk back and decide whether they are going to follow you or not, it won’t work for very long.

Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Social media is not just another way to advertise. Doing it well means that your, or your company’s heart, has to be in the message because more than traditional ads social media cuts to the heart of what you’re all about. (Sinek’s talk is worth watching if you’ve got the time.)


Use platforms that make sense

There’s no right way to business. Like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. And there is also no right way to promote a business.

If you think Snapchat, Instagram, Soundcloud, a blog, or YouTube will help, go for it. If you just want to stick to the giants of Twitter and Facebook, go for it. Is Google+ still a thing? Go for it too. Think all of the above will help? Go for it.

But first, make sure you know what each one is all about. If you have no intention to produce videos regularly, then you probably don’t need a YouTube channel. If your target audience isn’t full of youngsters, you’ll probably be wasting your time on Snapchat.

Be Timely

A lot of social media is about what is going on right now. Don’t link broadcasts to a sporting event or concert more than a few minutes before it is supposed to start. Most people won’t remember the post an hour from now.

Also, be aware of what time of day it is. Just because you are working late doesn’t mean your followers will be awake to read your posts.

Planning

Considering the last section, it may sound ironic, but you can write plenty of content ahead of time. Sites like Hootsuite and even Facebook itself will let you schedule posts in advance. This will keep your content appearing consistently throughout the day rather than all in one burst that can easily be missed.

Transparency

Gary Vaynerchuk calls social media “word of mouth on steroids.” That’s great when people love your brand, but also means anyone can criticize your business in front of a few million people. This scares the hell out of a lot of companies, and they will do everything they can to protect their reputation, including deleting anything that is not overwhelming support. But deleting critical posts from your Facebook page aren’t going to fix anything. It’ll probably just tick off the complainer more.

This comes from television, but it is a great example of how letting people speak their minds can be even more devastating than blocking them: In 2007, C-SPAN decided not air a speech by the radio host Michael Savage because it was pre-taped rather than something they were able to record live. Savage accused the channel of censorship and encouraged his listeners to write in complaints to the network.

Rather than simply deleting the emails and acting like nothing happened, which would’ve been easy as a TV network, C-SPAN founder Brain Lamb printed a few out and without any malice in his voice read a few on the air. Somehow he kept a straight face (language warning):


Lamb really did not even try to justify the decision not to air the speech, but after hearing the letters, it is doubtful most regular viewers would have been upset about the decision.

Complainers Are People Too

There is an alternative to deleting criticism: Engage it. Explain your side of the story. Some people will never be satisfied and you can cut off communication if that becomes apparent, but a lot of people will actually engage with you if you are reasonable. Like any other area of life, people just want to have their voice heard.

Not only could you win them over, your conversation may also be seen by others and they are a lot more likely to have a positive view of a brand that talks to people rather than just deleting or ignoring negative posts. Just remember to never be rude yourself, no matter how warranted it may seem.


Have Fun

Vaynerchuck likes to refer to Twitter as a cocktail party. You are allowed to talk about more than your business. (Remember Coffee Here. Buy it. only is bad.) Referencing current events or humor is still not something that most people expect to come from businesses, and it can be a pleasant surprise to see a company not just trying to push its products non-stop.

Companies can, however, cross the line, as John Oliver points out. (NSFW warning)


As he points out, people won’t be upset to see a company not tweet about current events, so don’t feel obligated to talk about anything. Make sure you take the time to think it through and come up with a good post first.

Look at the Numbers

If you’re trying to get a point across, your audience should shape your message. Facebook in particular will give you detailed stats about your fanbase. Age, gender, what time your followers are logging on the most, your most-liked past posts. Use this all to your advantage.

Ignore the Numbers

Like most things, followers are about quality over quantity. I’ll take 50 dedicated fans over 1,000 apathetic ones any day.

I once had someone question why I would reply to people who only had a handful of Twitter followers. That shouldn’t matter at all. Fans are made one at a time. If you just want to yell Coffee here. Buy it. get a TV commercial or a billboard, if you want to connect with a fellow human being tweet.

Story Time

I once saw a tweet from a girl who said she was celebrating her birthday at the ballpark where I work. Our PA announcer makes Happy Birthday wishes all the time, so I added her name to the list. After the game she tweeted again about how awesome it was to hear her name announced, she had no idea how we knew it was her birthday. (I never told her either.) How many followers did she have? I don’t know. I don’t care. We made her happy, and to boot did it for zero cost. Mission accomplished.

Cost

Social media is like running. Most people can run. Most people cannot run a marathon. Most people can tweet. Most people cannot engage their fans for eight hours a day.

The Human Element

Kzone1

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.

We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic umpire. K-Zone will be that umpire. Better than he was before. Better… stronger… faster… more accurate‑er.

And then we will ignore him. Because The Human Element™

Kzone2

2014 Movies, Ranked

Comparing movies across genres is difficult, and probably not even fair. Most importantly, everything through Fury gets a thumbs up.

  1. Birdman
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Interstellar
  4. Foxcatcher
  5. Nightcrawler
  6. Pride
  7. Boyhood
  8. Ida
  9. Under the Skin
  10. The Theory of Everything
  11. The Imitation Game
  12. Gone Girl
  13. The Lego Movie
  14. John Wick
  15. American Sniper
  16. Calvary
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy
  18. Edge of Tomorrow
  19. Fury
  20. Godzilla
  21. Noah
  22. I, Frankenstein