It is well known that the Redskins are unlikely to improve much in 2014 unless Robert Griffin III plays more like he did in 2012 than he did in 2013. One particular area where he needs to be better than he was last year is in the red zone.
In 2012, Griffin was one of the best quarterbacks in the league on plays inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. He completed 24 of 39 passes with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. His red zone passer rating of 105.4 was fifth best among NFL quarterbacks.
Last year it was a different story. He was 29 of 58 with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Griffin’s red zone passer rating plummeted to 83.7, 21st among qualifying quarterbacks.
And while how much Griffin should run is very much up for debate, he was very effective running in the red zone as a rookie. He rushed 23 times for 82 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year he gained 31 yards on 11 red zone attempts and didn’t score a rushing touchdown.
The team, as one would expect, reflected Griffin’s lowered numbers. On their way to the NFC East title in 2012 they scored 32 touchdowns in 49 red zone opportunities, a conversion rate of 65 percent. That red zone percentage was fourth best in the NFL. Last year on their way to three wins they got to the red zone the exact same number of times, 49. But they scored just 26 touchdowns. Their 53 percent conversion rate was 20th in the NFL.
The big picture numbers of last year’s red zone issues don’t tell the whole story. Here are a few specific red zone failures that directly contributed to losses:
- Wk 3 vs. Lions, interception from the 19, lost 27-20
- Wk 10 @ Vikings, turned over on downs at the 4, lost 34-27
- Wk 11 @ Eagles, lost fumble at 5, threw interception from the 20, lost 24-16
- Wk 15 @ Falcons, fumble at the 13, lost 27-26
- Wk 17 vs. Cowboys, settled for field goal from 18, lost 24-23
You will note that two of these games happened after Griffin was shut down for the last three games of the season. So it wasn’t just his issue. But if they are going to get out of the hole and become more efficient in the red zone, it’s likely going to have to be Griffin leading the way.