Red Zone is Creativity Dead Zone
The Ravens finished the 2010 regular season with a 49.02% “red zone” success rate. That is, of their 51 offensive attempts inside their opponent’s 20-yard line, they scored 25 touchdowns.
25/51 = 49.02%
This was slightly worse than 2009, when they scored touchdowns on 51.56% of their red zone trips, and good for 22nd overall in the NFL. Of the twelve 2010 playoff teams, the Ravens rank 8th, ahead of Pittsburgh (48.0%), Chicago (45.1%), Seattle (42%), and the New York Jets (40%).
Excluding the Atlanta game, when they were 3/3 scoring touchdowns in the red zone, the Ravens were worse than their season average in red zone efficiency in their losses.
New England: 1/3
So in those three losses, they were a combined 2/6 in red zone scoring, or 33%. Well below their season average. In addition, for the season the Ravens averaged 3.2 red zone ATTEMPTS per game, but in these three losses averaged only two attempts per game.
Getting to the red zone is half the battle. Tack on even another field goal and two of those games (New England, Pittsburgh) are right back in the balance.
Putting aside for a moment how frustrating it is that a team with Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh was just 22nd in the league in red zone efficiency, let’s look at another issue. On Sunday against Cincinnati, it was the Ravens’ lack of creativity in the red zone that really caught my attention.
Again, they only managed two red zone trips all day, despite five Cincinnati turnovers and one kickoff out-of-bounds. Shown below is the play-by-play for those series:
- 1-9-CIN 9 (11:45) (No Huddle) 27-R.Rice left guard to CIN 6 for 3 yards (91-R.Geathers, 58-R.Maualuga).
- 2-6-CIN 6 (11:04) 27-R.Rice left guard to CIN 7 for -1 yards (55-K.Rivers).
- 3-7-CIN 7 (10:23) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete short left to 27-R.Rice. Penalty on BLT-27-R.Rice, Offensive Pass Interference, declined.
- 4-7-CIN 7 (10:13) (Field Goal formation) 7-B.Cundiff 25 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-70-K.Houser, Holder-4-S.Koch. Billy Cundiff now 25-for-28 FGA.
- 1-10-CIN 10 (6:26) 27-R.Rice left guard to CIN 7 for 3 yards (55-K.Rivers, 58-R.Maualuga).
- 2-7-CIN 7 (5:52) 27-R.Rice up the middle for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Ray Rice scores 6th touchdown of season, 5th rushing touchdown.
Five plays, four of which were Ray Rice runs, and THREE of which were Rice runs over left guard.
That’s some damn creative play-calling right there.
Luckily, Rice busted through on second down of the second opportunity, or else another three-and-field-goal seems extremely likely.
Now, perhaps this was just a case of Cam Cameron not wanting to tip his hand and show the Kansas City Chiefs what he has up his sleeve for this week. Let’s hope that’s the case.
If the Ravens reach the Kansas City 8-yard line or so Sunday, and I see Ray Rice take consecutive handoffs, I may just put my foot through the television.