Not capitalizing in the red zone has been a trend over the last couple of seasons for the Falcons. It's something that is really limiting this team in terms of its ability to score points when they're given their best opportunity to.
It's almost as if the Falcons just run into a road block when they get into the red zone, and more times than not, they have had to settle for field goals when they should be scoring touchdowns.
The Falcons right now are 6-12 this year in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. Matt Ryan is just 10-21 with 5 TDs and one interception in the red zone this year. The Falcons continue to focus on the pass when they get near the goal line as opposed to pounding the ball with the run.
Given the offensive line's lack of pass protection, and how the Falcons are so reliant on passing the football, opposing defenses can just sit on the pass in these situations because they know it is coming. There's also less territory to defend in the red zone, meaning that there is usually tighter coverage from defenses because there is not as many places for the receivers to go and spread out.
Jason Snelling has four rushes for 13 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per rush.
Jacquizz Rodgers has four rushes for nine yards, averaging 2.3 yards per rush.
Steven Jackson has three rushes for seven yards, averaging 2.3 yards per rush.
So with the running game struggling immensely in the red zone, the offense has stalled mightily when it really needs to be capitalizing on these opportunities.
There isn't a set way to fix this, but making Jason Snelling the designated red zone back, who is the most physical back between himself and Jacquizz Rodgers (remember, Jackson is out for a while), seems to be a viable option. He has the lone red zone touchdown, and has the ability to break some tackles and make that extra push more in these situations than Rogers does, who is a far quicker back with less physicality.
If the running game can get going in the red zone, then that opens up more doors for the passing attack. A good running game keeps the offense balanced, and in the red zone, when the other team knows what you're coming with 90% of the time, it's awfully hard to score.
So much of this also relies on the O-line getting better in protecting, but that seems like it's always going to be a work in progress.
Give Snelling the ball more here. He can impact the game in a more immediate fashion. If he can become more successful, then that will open up more chances for Matt Ryan and company to utilize the passing game more effectively in the red zone.
Photo by: Graham Waldrop
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