The New England Patriots are wrapping up this Friday to face the Atlanta Falcons in prime time this Sunday. There is no doubt this will be an excellent match up for both teams, and the winner should have a lot more confidence in its unit heading up to the next challenge.
Sep 22, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the second half of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
While the Patriots are holding a 3-0 record, the Falcons are holding a 1-2 record, but one theme these two teams have in common is – getting better with offensive red zone execution. The Patriots have left many points on the field with mistakes that can be somewhat easily corrected (communication and ball security), while the Falcons are in need of improving plays execution in the running and passing game in the area.
On Wednesday during a conference call to the New England media, coach Mike Smith stressed out the need and issues for the Falcons to overcome the trending errors while at the red zone.
“Well we haven’t scored touchdowns when we’ve been down there. We’ve had to kick field goals. Our red zone efficiency is not where we want it to be. I think we are at 50 percent, and we’d like it to be in the upper third. We need to improve that. We need to run the ball better, and we’ve got to be more efficient throwing the football when you are down there in a condensed field. Efficiency must be perfect because you have smaller windows and not as large of an area to attack.
On the other hand in today’s press conference, coach Bill Belichick was asked why the Patriots are struggling in finding efficiency in the red zone and what has been done about it so far. And as anyone could guess, the answer was as flat as, “Because we haven’t performed well enough. We have to coach and play better down there. What are we going to do? Coach and play better.”
But he later highlighted that the team just need to perform better – offensively and defensively in the red zone.
“We need to coach better, we need to execute better. We have to do a better job; it’s an important part of the field. Certainly, when you look at a team like Atlanta that’s been in three real tight games, you have to think that could potentially be the difference in this game, as it was in their other games. It’s a big area of emphasis for us.”
There is no question this team gets the message that situational football and execution in the red zone both offensively and defensively will be a game changer. Vince Wilfork knows he is going to a battle, and Tom Brady knows he must be “perfect”.