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Red zone the focus for offense this week

Posted Nov 20, 2012


Through most of the first half of the season the Bills were a top 10 red zone offense scoring touchdowns on more than 60 percent of their drives inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Over the past three games Buffalo’s offense has gone 4-14 (28.5%) making it a primary emphasis this week.

“We have been pretty good this year,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “We had our struggles in Houston. Corrected a lot of that and did a good job in New England, but we just have to continue to work at it. I do not think that is a weakness for us. I see that as a strength and hopefully we just continue to get better at it as we go forward.”

Against the Texans in Houston, the Bills had no problem getting down into the red zone, but negative plays were what kept them out of the end zone in that game.

On their first red zone possession Fred Jackson was dropped for a loss of one on first down, which is a minimal negative play, but the Bills couldn’t overcome it. The inability to reach the end zone was compounded by a missed field goal.

Their third and final red zone opportunity was complicated by a 1st-and-10 sack of Fitzpatrick at the Texans 14-yard line. A field goal was the end result.

Though Buffalo went a very respectable 4-7 on red zone trips against the Patriots in Week 10, their missed opportunities were due to negative plays as well. A 3rd-and-2 situation at the 11 was marred by a holding penalty. That was followed on the ensuing play by a sack on 3rd-and-12 and the Bills settled for a field goal.

On a 1st-and-10 at the Patriots 13, Fred Jackson ran to the goal line, but had the ball jarred loose at the one for a turnover. And the last red zone trip ended with an interception on a 2nd-and-10 from the 15.

Against the Dolphins the wounds were self-inflicted too. A receiver looks over the wrong shoulder on a 3rd-and-3 and couldn’t pull in a touchdown pass. A pass is a bit off the mark on a 3rd-and-1 at the 16 and falls incomplete. Fitzpatrick is dropped for a sack on a 3rd-and-3 at the 17 on another drive. And on three chances while also battling the clock the passing game couldn’t connect on their fourth opportunity, which made them 0-4 against the Dolphins.

“Offensively, there was some stuff we are going to look at and correct,” said Fitzpatrick. “It is important to make sure you are still very critical of what is going on even though you have a win. Sometimes winning puts a blanket over some of the stuff that did not go right because you won. We just have to continue to get better.”

C.J. Spiller believes there has to be a heightened sense of focus once they crack the opponent’s 20-yard line.

“We’ve just got to be consistent, kind of get a little more seriousness down there,” said Spiller. “A little more sense of urgency when we get in the red zone, so from here on out you pretty much have to score touchdowns to win games. Like I said we love Rian Lindell, if he can win the game for us he will, but the only time I like to see him out there after we’ve put six points on the board. It’s hard to score in this league, but when you get down there you’ve got to dial in and really focus on the play calls.”

“Basically, just scoring touchdowns.  That’s the main thing I think we came out of that game thinking about,” said Stevie Johnson. “Our offense didn’t score touchdowns, and we know if we want to get into the playoffs we’ve got to score touchdowns in the red zone.”