Seizing every opportunity for success is a requirement in the NFL. That starts with scores in the red zone. “After turnovers, the red zone is probably the No. 1 statistic that correlates with winning and losing,” says New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey, whose club has an NFL-best 75.0 touchdown percentage in the red zone this season, says the standard is reaching the end zone when inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
“I can give you all the coaching clichés about that we work on it, we spend time on it and all that,” says Gailey, whose Bills take to the road to face the New York Giants in Week 6, who rank second to Buffalo with a 71.4 red zone touchdown percentage.
“The bottom line is execution-being able to defeat the defenses that you play each week. The guys have done a good job of understanding that we need to score touchdowns down there. We’ve done it a variety of ways. If you can score touchdowns instead of field goals, it helps you win games.”
The teams with the highest touchdown percentage inside of the 20-yard line through Week 5:
|New York Giants||14||76||10||71.4|
|New England Patriots||26||135||17||65.4|
NFL Network analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK certainly agrees that execution in the red zone correlates to wins.
“Red zone efficiency is imperative and determines outcomes of games,” says Faulk. “It’s so important when you get into the red zone to put touchdowns on the board. The struggle is the field gets smaller, defenses get stout and they understand they only have to defend so much and the windows for opportunity are smaller.
“When you are efficient in the red zone, teams understand that defending 80 yards of the field becomes extremely important,” says Faulk. “Because they know once you get inside the 20-yard line that points will be put on the board especially if you are a team that is efficient in scoring touchdowns.”
Buffalo’s offense features a duo of quarterback RYAN FITZPATRICK, who ranks second in the NFL this season with nine touchdown passes inside of the 20-yard line, and running back FRED JACKSON, who is tied for fifth in the league with four red zone rushing touchdowns.
Bills’ offensive coordinator/running backs coach CURTIS MODKINS says Buffalo’s success in the red zone originates with mistake-free football.
“First, we can’t do anything to hurt ourselves. No penalties, no mistakes and we have to take care of the ball,” says Modkins on the approach instilled in the offense. “We want touchdowns out of it and we try to score touchdowns each time we’re in the red zone. Normally we try to attack the weakness of the defense and expose them for seven points.”
The players with the most touchdown passes inside of the 20-yard line through Week 5:
|PLAYER||TEAM||MOST TD PASSES|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots||12|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||Buffalo Bills||9|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||8|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||8|
|Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||8|
The players with the most rushing touchdowns inside of the 20-yard line through Week 5:
|PLAYER||TEAM||MOST RUSH TDs|
|Beanie Wells||Arizona Cardinals||6|
|Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||5|
|BenJarvus Green-Ellis||New England Patriots||5|
|Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||5|
|Fred Jackson||Buffalo Bills||4|
|LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||4|