The Curious Case Of the Jaguars' Two-Point Conversion Attempts

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a duo of two-point conversion attempts in Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns; one out of necessity and one because the first one was unnecessary.
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Across the league, more and more NFL teams are going for two-point conversions this season than ever before. But only two teams attempt the post-score conversion more than the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10).

The Jags are third in the league, attempting a two-point conversion 0.7 times per game, or in layman’s terms, eight times over the course of 12 games thus far. Of those eight, two have been good, giving them a success rate of only 25 percent.

Attempting two when down or in certain late-game situations when analytics say it’s the only option are understandable. 

What has become slightly head-scratching about the Jaguars' attempts is just how often they arise early in the game. None more so than on Sunday during a 27-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns (8-3).

Having taken the lead with a touchdown early in the third quarter, the Jags were up 19-17 and then up 20-17 after an Aldrick Rosas successful PAT kick. However, the Browns were flagged for defensive offsides. Jacksonville could have denied the penalty and kept the points. But with the option for another try and the ball at the 1-yard line, head coach Doug Marrone elected to accept the flag and try for two.

“It’s always been my philosophy that if there’s a penalty on a play and it goes to the 1-[yard line], then I’m always going to go for two unless it’s something where it’s going to become a two-score game,” explained Marrone after the game.

"We had a run-pass option for that play and then they stacked the box, and they were bringing pressure on the weak side, so it caused us to throw it and we didn’t execute it. But it’s always been my philosophy from analytics, percentages, however you want to call it, unless obviously if the extra point puts you up by two scores then you’re not going to do that.”

Quarterback Mike Glennon, making his first start of the season, was fine with the decision as well, stating after the game, “It’s an aggressive mentality. Now we’re a 1-10 team, why not? I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

While the timing could certainly be considered curious, it wasn’t so much the aggressive nature of the decision as the call itself.

From the 1-yard line, the Jags called a fade to Keelan Cole in the back left side of the endzone. Glennon said it was a matter of the two not being on the same page and, “we’ll have to see on film, I don’t know – just not on the same page type of deal. I don’t know who’s at fault, it’s kind of irrelevant.”

Running back James Robinson, who had 159 scrimmage yards on the day and 128 of those on the ground, was unused from the 1-yard line.

Despite Robinson's 128 yards on the ground and a touchdown, he wasn't used on the 2-point conversions. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Robinson's 128 yards on the ground and a touchdown, he wasn't used on the 2-point conversions. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Explained Marrone, “We decided that we were going to go with the 12 personnel package and try to get in there. Then they put an extra guy at the edge, then we went with the pass. You know how I’ve always been. Obviously, at the end of the day, I wish I would’ve went goal line and ran the ball because I can’t defend a decision that didn’t work out for us. I can only tell you what my thought process was going into it.”

With just over three minutes left in the game, the Jaguars scored a touchdown to make it 27-25. Having taken the PAT off the board earlier, the team now had to go for two just to tie the game.

This time Glennon scrambled left after being flushed from the pocket. He had green grass in front of him but stopped and threw into a scrum of Browns defenders that were flanking receiver Collin Johnson. The ball was intercepted out of bounds.

“My route was an arrow route on the opposite side of the field,” explained Johnson after the game.

“But, when I saw him scrambling, everything is up for grabs and you just try to get open. That’s what I tried to do. Mike [Glennon] gave me a chance, but I didn’t come down with it. Just live and learn and continue to work and practice and next time I will get it.”

Adds Glennon, “I saw a bunch of bodies – I think I had someone open that I wish I would’ve seen, but I didn’t see it and tried to escape and make a play, and unfortunately they made a good play on the scramble.”

Two-point conversions are hard to come by with nowhere near the guarantee rate of a point after attempt. As such teams carry very few in their playbook. As the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to increase their attempts, they decrease their likelihood of conversions as defenses can better prepare. At times they are necessary for a win…but it’s a humbling position to be in, having to run the conversion try out of necessity because of an unnecessary hole.