How to fix the Cowboys’ red zone offense, Part II
At Dallas Morning News, I posted the second part of my series on the Cowboys’ red zone offense.
Another way to improve red zone efficiency is to target the right players in the passing game. That’s made easier close to the goal line because it becomes very difficult for defenses to double-team a particular player; pretty much everyone is working in tight quarters. Below, I charted the red zone efficiency for Jason Witten, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant since 2010.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Bryant is the best of the bunch. He’s caught 62.9 percent of his red zone targets, converting 37.1 percent of them into touchdowns. Both of those marks beat out Witten and Austin, the latter player by a wide margin.
And the veteran tight end’s red zone numbers over the past three seasons might actually be inflated. Over the course of his career, Witten has caught only 55.1 percent of his red zone targets, converting 28.9 percent into touchdowns. Those aren’t great numbers for a tight end.
You can see that Witten checks in below the game’s top tight ends. Rob Gronkowski, who is admittedly one of the top red zone threats in the NFL, has scored on exactly half of his career targets inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. You could argue that Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have received better quarterback play, but that’s certainly not the case for Vernon Davis, who still checks in above Witten in both red zone catch rate and touchdown rate.