Patriots look to improve red zone offense

Patriots look to improve red zone offense
September 25, 2012, 7:28 pm
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If there are seven deadly sins in football, failing to convert in the red zone is one of them.
The Patriots were ranked No. 4 in red zone scoring (touchdowns only) last season at 65.05 percent. Though three games in 2012, they're No.16 with 50 percent success (6-for-12).
In Sunday night's 31-30 loss to Baltimore, New England scored six on 3-of-5 red zone opportunities. Tom Brady said in his post game press conference that his team needs to start winning close games. With the Patriots' two losses being by a total of three points, the red zone would be a good place to start.
Bill Belichick shouldered the load on his Tuesday conference call.
"It starts with us, it starts with coaching, making sure we have a good plan, making sure that we put our players in the best possible position to be productive and to be able to do their jobs, making sure that the plays that we run we practice, we know what to do, we can execute so if something different happens down there, which is always a problem because it all happens so fast.
"Theres so little space that youre involved in, all the plays just happen much quicker than they do out in the field. Running game, the holes close quicker; passing game, there are smaller windows and less space to throw in and all that.
"When we get inside the five-yard line, our goal-line type offense, we have to be able to get it in down there as well as from farther out. We just have to keep working on all those things and try to do a better job of them. I think we have good players and we have good coaches and weve certainly scored plenty of points down there in the past and weve gotten down there plenty of times. We just have to make a little more out of it, have to come out of there with more touchdowns and fewer field goals."
The Patriots coach had even more to say about red zone logistical difficulties.
Though there's less area to cover, which is obviously ideal for offenses, that area is packed in tightly with defensive land mines. Normal game rhythm gets thrown out the window and adjustments must be made instantaneously.
No space to throw, no room to run.
In the first quarter Sunday, New England was poised to strike on the Baltimore 20. Brady went back into shotgun and tried to find Julian Edelman on a third-down post route. Ed Reed made an excellent play to crush Edelman and force the incomplete.
The next missed opportunity came when the Patriots got to the 8 by third-down. Baltimore's 'D' was solid all series, and even though New England got into prime position, the Ravens were able to continue pressure and force a field goal.
Especially disappointing for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is the fact they'd converted a similar series in the two-minute offense before halftime.
"We only go out there for one reason on offense and thats to try to score seven points every time we possess the ball," McDaniels said. "Its something that I think you just continue to work at. The red zone is always a tough place. Things happen faster down there and theres a mix of pressure and coverage that you have to be able to adjust to during the course of the play. We can improve in that area of the field as well."