Super Bowl Opening Night, the successor to Super Bowl Media Day, has become such a circus that it often feels like no one actually talks about the game at all.
But every once in a while, one of those non-traditional “media” people asks a relevant question. According to the Charlotte Observer, it was a first grader who challenged Panthers coach Ron Rivera on his strategy on two-point conversions and got Rivera to admit that he hasn’t really thought through the math of it all. (The question actually came from PFT Commenter, pretending to read a question from a first grader.)
Rivera became known as “Riverboat Ron” because he defied the conventional wisdom and started going for it on fourth down more often than other coaches, and that has been a part of the Panthers’ success. But Rivera sticks with the conventional wisdom that says coaches should only go for two when they have to, and kick extra points as the default: The Panthers went 56-for-59 on extra point kicks in the regular season, and they never went for two.
That’s where the first grader came in on Monday night, asking Rivera why he doesn’t go for two every time. Rivera answered that the Panthers made 95 percent of their extra points.
“You almost feel like at 95 percent it’s a sure thing and you should take the one, and that’s the way we approach it,” Rivera said.
But there was a follow-up question, and that’s where Rivera got stumped: Surely a good short-yardage team like the Panthers could make 50 percent of their two-point conversions. And if so, going for two would be the smarter strategy because 50 percent of two is more than 95 percent of one.
“Probably. I’m not a mathematician. As a football coach I’m limited in my math,” Rivera answered.
Eventually, some coach will defy the conventional wisdom and make going for two the default for his team. But that coach apparently won’t be Ron Rivera.