In American Football, the red zone is the area between the 20-yard line and the goal line. This field area has a high chance of scoring a touchdown, which means it’s an essential part of the field for both the offense and defense. Keep reading to learn how often teams score in this area, the history, and more in this post!
Why is it Called the Red Zone in Football?
The red zone’s name is an area with a high risk of scoring for the offense team. In theory, since there’s a short distance to the goal line, it’s relatively easy for the offense to score from the red zone. However, the defense has less ground to protect, making this area intriguing during an NFL game since there isn’t as much space to move around for either side.
By giving the defense team less space to protect, they can change their defensive position in the red zone. For example, the defense team can stop playing man-to-man defense and instead opt for a zone defense strategy. Changing the defense formation can confuse the offense, which may work to the defensive team’s benefit in stopping the offense from scoring.
Is the Red Zone Actually Red on the Football Field?
It’s important to note that the red zone isn’t colored red. However, some teams will provide unique markings on the field so that it’s easy for fans to see where it starts. Usually, the 20-yard line will be different from the others (usually white) so that announcers and fans in the stands can quickly identify this high-scoring area.
However, watching the game on TV might have unique markings and graphs once a team enters this area. These distinctive markings might have quick stats like how often that team scores vs. how frequently the defense stops teams from scoring a touchdown. You might see some TV network color in the field to make the red zone crystal clear for casual fans to understand when watching the game.
How Often Do NFL Teams Score When They Reach the Red Zone?
When teams enter the red zone in the NFL, the expectation is that they will score a touchdown by the end of the drive. Since the team is within their opponent’s 20-yard line, they only need two first downs to reach the end zone. While the red zone is technically in field goal range, three points are not the ultimate goal of that scoring drive.
In the 2020-2021 season, the Green Bay Packers had the best touchdown scoring percentage when entering the red zone with 76.81%. The Tennessee Titans were second in red-zone production with a 74.24% conversion rating. When it comes to performing well near the goal line, teams need an adequate quarterback and plenty of offensive weapons and elite wide receivers to make sure they evade solid defensive schemes.
However, while the Packers and Titans routinely find great success in the red zone, many other teams struggle. The Las Vegas Raiders, who had a mediocre 54.24% touchdown success from the red zone, found they were much more successful when giving the ball to their kicker. The Raiders ended the regular season with the most short field goals in the league.
Super Bowl Embarrassment in the Red Zone
During Super Bowl 49, the Seattle Seahawks embarrassingly failed to convert a touchdown after entering the red zone on the game’s last drive. During a goal-line stand, quarterback Russell Wilson famously attempted a pass to Ricardo Lockette. Patriots’ rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler flawlessly covered the pass and intercepted it, causing a turnover at the one-yard line.
History of the Red Zone Term
There’s some disagreement over who coined the term “Red Zone.” Joe Gibbs is the first person to be credited with the use of the phrase in print. Gibbs, who was the coach of the Washington Football Team in the 1980s, was quoted in a Washington Post article describing the red zone when talking about his team, which had one of the poorest scoring percentages when scoring from that part of the football field.
Another head coach credited with the origin of the term is Dave Plati. Before joining as Denver Broncos” head coach in 1980, Plati served as an information director for the University of Colorado. There, he maintained several different statistics about the school’s college football team, including the team’s ability to score within the red zone.
What About the TV Channel?
One of the most common ways people use the term red zone is when referring to the NFL RedZone channel. This program flips between active football games so that fans only watch the most exciting parts of a game.
The channel only focuses on teams making plays at the line of scrimmage or in the red zone to show the most potential scoring drives and exhilarating plays. This channel is top-rated among fantasy football enthusiasts who want to keep up on the scoring production of their teams.
Conclusion – What is the Red Zone in Football
If your favorite team is entering the red zone during a football game, don’t get up! This field area has a high chance of scoring, which means you may see an exciting play unfolding right before your eyes. However, as we saw with the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, a defensive team might make an incredible stop to win the football game.
Once again, the red zone is the football field area between the 20-yard line and the goal line. Most teams have a better than 50% chance of scoring when they enter the red zone, so make sure to keep an eye on your favorite football player because they’ll likely put on a show. Finally, fantasy football fans should consider getting NFL RedZone, so they are always in the loop with their players’ performance on game day!