The Redskins scored one touchdown in four possessions in the red zone against the Colts last night. This came on the heels getting one touchdown on five trips inside the Steelers 20 a week ago.
This had many fans on Twitter and elsewhere saying that the Redskins’ inability to score touchdowns from close in was “the same old story,” implying that it was the continuation of a pattern that has been around for a while.
It sounded good, but it’s not true. The Redskins actually have been fairly competent at turning red zone opportunities into touchdowns over the past two years.
In 2010, Mike Shanahan’s first year with the Redskins, the team scored touchdowns on 22 of 43 trips inside the other team’s 20. Their conversion percentage of 51.2 percent was just below the NFL average of 52.7 percent. That ranked a middling 19th in the league.
The year before, under Jim Zorn, the team was even better in the red zone. They ranked in the top 10, as their red zone conversion rate of 56.5 percent was the seventh-best in the NFL.
It is almost certain that the Redskins will not stay stuck at their current conversion rate of 22.2 percent. The two worst red zone teams in the league last year, the Panthers and Rams, managed to punch it into the end zone on over 30 percent of their opportunities.
One other note—a quick glance suggests that there does not appear to be a strong correlation between having an efficient red zone game and winning. The Ravens, Bears, Saints, Jets, and Steelers all made the playoffs despite having a worse red zone conversion rate than the Redskins did last year. Perhaps piling up lots of red zone opportunities and keeping your opponents from moving deep into your territory are more important factors.