FirstDown PlayBook Red Zone +5 – +1
By FirstDown PlayBook on Nov 21, 2015


We are going to be the first to admit that this area of the red zone has changed drastically over the past decade or so. There was a point in time where this area of the red zone was defined as being between the 5 yard line and 3 yard line. After an offense got inside of the 2 yard line it was just assumed that they would get in a goal line formation with big personnel. Many teams play without a Fullback and some don’t have blocking Tight Ends these days so this area of the red zone can extend all of the way to the one inch line. So FirstDown PlayBook will treat this area like you are going to play it in your normal personnel. We will also put goal line pass plays in that section at some point.5-1 Yard Line


Here are some of the things you can expect once you get in the tight red zone:


Bracket & Banjo Coverages

You are going to try to run rub or pick pass plays with crossing routes and they know it so expect to get some form of bracket coverage from teams to offset this. Your answer to this should be two fold. First, think about motioning across the formation to create confusion and also to make who has who in bracket coverage unclear until the last possible moment before the snap. The second way to offset this is to run “under” and “return” routes that look like a crossing concept but end up with two receivers flooding one side of the bracket. This puts the defender to that side in a tough situation as he is faced with a two on one predicament.

Get All Routes In The End Zone

There is nothing more frustrating than to run a pass concept in this area and complete the pass only to have the receiver catch it and get tackled on the one inch line. Coach all of your receivers including your running backs to get in the end zone on all routes. Understand that the last inch of that route that gets you into the end zone will be physical if you are playing a well coached defense. Coach your receivers, tight ends and backs to fist fight and block their way to the depth of their route if necessary.

Use Your Play-Action Pass Game

Regardless of if you are in a goal line personnel formation or you stay with your conventional personnel you should consider running the football here. If you are fairly sure you can’t get in the end zone with your run game because the defense has decided to play goal line personnel then you may need to pass the ball to get the last yard or so. Remember though before you drop back to throw the ball that a run fake is a powerful thing here and the defense has already indicated that they are committed to stopping the run. So have a play-action pass ready in this tight red zone area also.

Don’t Have Too Much

I remember breaking down the Arizona Cardinals the year that they went to the Super Bowl in the red zone and after looking at the entire season I came away from it with about three 2×2 concepts and three 3×1 concepts. They actually overlapped so there were really about four concepts total. They were the number one team in the red zone that year and you can bet that they were studied and schemed prior to every game but they ran what they ran and executed. There is an important lesson here for any offensive coordinator who thinks he has to trick the defense to score.

This completes the FirstDown PlayBook red zone blog series. We have filled up each red zone area with 2×2 formation pass plays and we will continue with 3×1, Bunch and 2 Back plays over the next few weeks.

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