After starting off the season as one of the best red zone teams in the NFL, the Ravens sputtered to just three field goals last Sunday in Kansas City.
That was in stark contrast to their production through the season’s first four games, when Joe Flacco & Co. scored eight touchdowns in twelve opportunities inside the 20-yard line. That was good for a 66.67% touchdown percentage, and when you add on Justin Tucker’s two short field goals, they were 10/12, a scoring percentage of 83.3%.
Had they maintained that 66.67 touchdown percentage, they would currently be tied with Denver and New Orleans for second-best in the entire NFL, behind only the Green Bay Packers (73.33%).
Instead, after last week’s 0/3 showing, their touchdown percentage has dropped to 53.3%, good for 15th in the league, tied with teams like Miami (2-3) and Detroit (1-3).
Unfortunately, this regression has put the Ravens more in line with their historical red zone production. Under Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ red zone touchdown percentages over the years have been as follows:
2008: 48.28 (22nd in the NFL)
2009: 51.56 (15th)
2010: 49.15 (22nd)
2011: 50% (18th)
Of course, we have a small sample size, as the team has played only five games here in 2012. With the offense in general getting up and down the field better than we have seen in the past (currently the #8 offense in yards per game), it’s entirely possible that the Ravens will be able to put up more points per game with the same red zone touchdown percentage simply by getting into the red zone more often.
However, for this offense to truly take the next step into one of the best in the league, they need to put the ball in the end zone when the opportunity presents itself.
With what we’ve seen from the defense through the early part of the year, lighting up the scoreboard will be crucial to the team’s prospects moving forward.
Let’s hope that the Kansas City game was merely a bump in the road, and the team that we saw through the first four games – the one scoring touchdowns on two of every three red zone trips – is who the Ravens really are.
The Cowboys come into this game as the 12th-ranked red zone defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 44.44% of trips inside the 20 (KC is 23rd, even after last week), so it’s not going to be easy on Sunday. Still, playing at home, the feeling here is that the Ravens are up to the challenge and will be successful inside the red zone this week.