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How To Succeed in the Red Zone (Without Really Trying)

There’s been lots of talk in Giants-land the past couple days about Big Blue’s inability to score in the red zone. It brings up the question: What’s the best way to succeed in the Red Zone? What’s the best way to do it? We’ll explore:

When you’re in the red zone, the defense can pinch in. There’s not a lot of room to work with, so the linebackers can, in effect, work as extra defensive lineman. If they read run, they can attack. If they read pass, they can drop into coverage. So the key is to move the linebackers. To spread them out. That’s where play action comes in. If the linebackers bite on the play action, the tight end can usually sneak through, either through the middle, or on a post route to the corner. Better yet, if the safety bites, there could be more room.

If you can’t move the linebackers, you can focus on one-on-one matchups on the outside with the receivers and corners. You saw this work to perfection in the Super Bowl, when Eli threw to the winning touchdown to Plax. Plax made a quick move inside, the corner bit, and Plax made history.

A third strategy is to run. That’s what the Giants were doing against the Redskins. Running up the gut won’t work against a team with stout defensive tackles, like Washington, or Minnesota. Running to the outside could work, but again, the linebackers or safeties have to be moved around. Running the ball in the red zone (unless on the goal line), is not my preferred strategy. Think about it: The defense has less room to work with. So what are they going to do? Stack the line. Now, if you run on first and second downs, the defense will creep up, leaving room in the passing game.

The fourth, and final strategy, is to execute the jump ball. This is best used closer to the end zone, about 10 yards and in. Most corners are not taller than 6-2. If you get a 6-6 receiver, all you have to do is throw it high, and odds are, he’ll catch it.

So, how does this apply to the Giants? Easy. The best option for the Giants to employ is the play action, and the jump ball. Kevin Boss is an above average tight end. He’s pretty sure handed, too. If Giants do the play fake to Jacobs, have Eli roll out, odds are Boss will be open in the corner, or streaking across the middle (note to video gamers: This play works REALLY well in Madden. Just saying.)

For the jump ball, the Giants have the best weapon: Ramses Barden. He’s 6-6: no corner (or safety) can out jump him. They just can’t. He’d be perfect split out wide, and going into the corner. He might not make the corner miss, but he’ll out jump him.

So those are four red zone strategies. Granted, it’s been one game. The Giants have time to improve, and they’re not facing Albert Haynesworth this week. But, I believe these are strategies to employ to give the Giants points in the red zone.

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4 Responses to “How To Succeed in the Red Zone (Without Really Trying)”

  1. DG says:

    So if you know how to make scoring in the red zone so easy – how come Coughlin hasn’t hired you yet?

  2. Andrew Ilnicki says:

    its a tale of the tape… and the tape dont lie — the fact is the Giants have more success passing in the red zone then running.

    defenses expect the run, so you need fake it and pass… its that simple.

    you will see the proof this weekend, trust me.

  3. Jesse Cassel says:

    all i have to say is play action pass, its eli’s bread and butter he is great at it and completes a high number of passes when doing a run fake. i think if they can use play action and let ahmad leak into the flat that can be a deadly weapon, not saying that its ganna always end up in a touch down but that would be effective when trying to get the first down.

  4. Andrew Ilnicki says:

    I totally agree – and the best they looked in Red Zone last year came off a bad game around the goalline, they make some adjustments when they go up against Dallas and go 3 for 3 in the Zone.

    The key was mixing it up, passing, faking the run, running — whatever it took to keep the defense guessing by not ever doing the same thing twice.

    Creative and aggressive play calling at its best — utilize all the various tools the Giants have and you will find success in the Red Zone.

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