Last season, they were one of the worst red-zone outfits in the
This year, though, the
Their methods have included everything from short-yardage runs to quarterback
"To begin with, I think we have a really good arsenal at our disposal," left guard Kelechi Osemele said. "I feel like we've been physical all camp, so we'll be physical in the red zone. I really feel confident in Joe's arm, and our receivers have really stepped up. So I think, all that combined, we should be better this year."
And those troubles -- primarily not being able to budge opponents on running plays or come up with creative enough strategies to score on passing plays -- were illustrated repeatedly as they were forced to settle for 21 field goals. The
"It [had] better be [improved] if we're going to win some football games," Flacco said of the red-zone offense. "We have good players. We have a good idea of what we're doing. We just have go out there and execute, and we're doing that right now. So we can expect to go out there in a game and do the exact same. ...
"Overall, [last year] we probably let teams come after us a little bit too much and didn't make the plays when they were presented to us. We're doing a good job getting the ball, getting it where it's supposed to be, winning one-on-one coverage. Those are the key things down there: quick wins and getting the ball out of your hands and just keep going forward."
With the addition of Kubiak, the
During his eight years as the
Kubiak frequently uses his tight ends in the red zone, which bodes well for
"The biggest thing for me, I want to know we're down there," Kubiak said. "You need to get down there; that's the most important thing. We have to run the ball well in the red zone to be effective. The biggest thing in this league, I tell the players all the time: 'If you have penalties in the red zone, touchdowns turn into field goals with penalties and field goals turn into punts.' So protecting the ball, running the ball and not hurting yourself offensively is the key to being good down there."
The most direct method of scoring typically is to try to punch it across the goal line, running the football with a straightforward approach.
Kubiak has installed his version of the West Coast offense, which emphasizes a run-first approach based on zone-blocking schemes and play-action passes.
"Exactly -- that's what I like about it the most," Osemele said. "As an offensive line, it's good to set the tone early and come off the ball, knock guys off the ball, assert your dominance and, obviously, the play-action off of that and the passes off that. I'm really confident."
Although the offense appears to be on the right track, Smith tapped the brakes rather than proclaim the
"I don't know," Smith said. "You just have to score. It's easy to say you're getting better in practice or even in the preseason, but you have to go out there and make it happen. There's one week you might go perfect, the next week you might need Tucker the whole time. So, you have to go out there and get it done."
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