Red Zone 20-16? Here Comes The Heat!
By FirstDown PlayBook on Nov 13, 2015


FirstDown PlayBook is beginning to add plays to our red zone section. We will add a total of 40 some plays over the next week. They will all be out of a 2×2 formation with the Quarterback under center and in the gun. We will follow this up with 3×1 formation pass plays and continue to add formations as we go.

Understand that many of these pass plays are great for running out in the field also, so you are getting a double bonus as we continue building this section of the playbook. So regardless of if you are a high school coach who is already planning for next year or a 7 on 7 coach that will be competing in 2016 this is going to be great for you.


FirstDown PlayBook is going to break our red zone sections down into four areas. (20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1). We understand that some coaches will break the red zone down into different sections than this but this will give you some structure as we implement the plays over the next couple of months. Also, remember that you can build your personal red zone section in our playbooks section any way you want.

20-16 Red Zone Area

We will start with the 20-16 yard line as we install the plays. Once you cross the 20 yard line you can bet that your opponent’s defensive coordinator is sweating. Unless there has been a sudden change turnover odds are that you have moved the football on him and he needs some answers. Here are some things to consider as you call plays in this red zone area.

The Short Field Is  A Factor

Let’s face it. You can still beat the defense in man coverage if they want to play it but the threat of the deep ball is greatly diminished because at the most you have only thirty yards to work with. With the short field now your thoughts should go to fade balls and crossing routes because they haven’t shrunk the field horizontally just vertically.

The Pressure Is Coming

Bank on it. You are about to get heat in some fashion or form. Most defensive coordinators are not going to sit back and let you march the ball down the field and finish the drive off in the red zone without a fight. If you are running the ball effectively then the pressure may be designed to shut that down. If you are throwing it well they want to make your quarterback get the ball out of his hand sooner than he wants to because remember they are probably in man coverage.

The defensive coordinator is thinking two things. His goal is to either hold you to three points instead of six or if he can he would like to sack you and knock you out of field goal range so you need to plan accordingly.

So What’s The Answer?

First, let us say that if you can continue to run the football then do so. Just because the defense is going to change up their approach does not automatically mean you have to drop back and throw it to score. Offensive line coaches across the the country are fist bumping right now to that one.

However when throwing the ball is the best option as you enter the red zone you can either:

1. Use max protection that includes your Tight End and Backs to pick up the pressure. This will give your  QB a chance to find your best receivers as they win vs man coverage. After all you still have thirty yards or so of field to work with. In some ways this red zone area is easier than it is as you get closer to the goal line.

2. Be prepared to get the ball out of your QB’s hand quickly. Incorporate crossing routes and hot throws as answers to the pressure. Screens and your three step pass game are also good answers in this area.

3. Use your Running Back and we don’t mean hand it off to him. If they are going to pressure you then most of the time they want their best pass rushers on the field and this will include their linebackers. If you can spread the field out with a wide open formation it will more than likely turn the game into four corners basketball with your RB working on their LB in space. It is also a great way to give your QB the chance to pull the ball down and run if the defensive line does not fill all of the pass rush lanes properly.

No Turnovers. No Sacks. No Penalties.

If you are in a competitive game (If you are not then none of this matters anyway) three points is a big deal. We hear the TV commentators bad mouth field goals every week too but rarely do they ever point out that the ability to score three points was the difference in winning or at least changed the way your opponent has to play when they get the ball back.

Your entire offense needs to understand that when you are in field goal range there are no sacks and no penalties that knock you back out of field goal range. No one said you can’t be aggressive towards getting the six but it can be done without turnovers, sacks or penalties.

15-11 Area Is Next!

So be sure to check out the new red zone section today and particularly the 20-16 area in the field. We will be back on Monday with the 15-11 area as we continue to break this all important phase of the game down!

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