Dolphins Red Zone Troubles - NFL Looks at Red Zone Efficiency Compared to Winning

Miami Dolphins running back Lex Hilliard scores the team's only red zone rushing touchdown of the year. The team has to get better at putting up points in the red zone if they want to compete.

It doesn't come as much of a surprise, but if you are efficient in the red zone, you typically win - at least that's what a study by the NFL released today shows.  It really shouldn't surprise fans of the Miami Dolphins, given the team's 0-4 record, and inability to move the ball when it's inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the fifth most efficient redzone team this season, the New England Patriots, states, "After turn overs, the red zone is probably the number one statistic that correlate with winning and losing."

Fellow AFC East head coach, and leader of the most efficient red zone team in football, Chan Gailey agrees with Coach Belichick.  " I can give you all the coaching clichés about that we work on it, we spend time on it, and all that, says Gailey, who will face the second most efficient red zone team, the New York Giants, this upcoming week.  "The bottom line is execution - being able to defeat the defenses that you play each week.  The guys have done a good job of understanding that we need to score touchdowns down there.  We've done it a variety of ways.  If you can score touchdowns instead of field goals, it helps you win games."

Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano needs to learn something from his fellow AFC East coaches - especially that field goals part (although, to be fair, Dan Carpenter has not attempted a field goal from inside the opponent's 20 yard line yet this year).  

The top five teams in red zone efficiency so far this year:

TEAM

POSS

PTS

TDs

TD%

Buffalo Bills

20

120

15

75

New York Giants

14

76

10

71.4

Oakland Raiders

16

88

11

68.8

Atlanta Falcons

15

79

10

66.7

New England Patriots

26

135

17

65.4

The players with the most passing touchdowns insider the 20-yard line:

PLAYER

TEAM

MOST TD PASSES

Tom Brady

New England Patriots

12

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Buffalo Bills

9

Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers

8

Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints

8

Matthew Stafford

Detroit Lions

8

And, the players with the most rushing touchdowns inside the 20-yard line:

PLAYER

TEAM

MOST RUSH TDs

Beanie Wells

Arizona Cardinals

6

Adrian Peterson

Minnesota Vikings

5

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

New England Patriots

5

Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers

5

Fred Jackson

Buffalo Bills

4

LeSean McCoy

Philadelphia Eagles

4

Inside the redzone so far this year, quarterback Chad Henne was 8-for-21, with 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  New starter Matt Moore has gone 1-for-1 inside the red zone, for 8 yards.  In the rushing attack. Henne added one run for nine yards and a touchdown, while Reggie Bush has run the ball twice, for no yards, Lex Hilliard has 4 runs for 7 yards and a touchdown, and rookie Daniel Thomas has 4 carries for 11 yards.

As Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk says, "Red zone efficiency is imperative and determines outcomes of games.  It's so important when you get into the red zone to put touchdowns on the board. The struggle is the field gets smaller, defenses get stout and they understand they only have to defend so much and the windows for opportunity are smaller. 

"When you are efficient in the red zone, teams understand that defending 80 yards of the field becomes extremely important," says Faulk. "Because they know once you get inside the 20-yard line that points will be put on the board especially if you are a team that is efficient in scoring touchdowns." 

Until the Dolphins solve the efficiency issue, they don't stand a chance this season.

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