I’ve always thought that passing the ball in the red zone is such a difficult task, because there’s so little margin for error in that area of the field. If you can’t convert on the downs given to you, that’s likely four points you threw away. And if you just miss a throw or a ball ends up getting tipped the wrong way, then you are looking at a huge turnover and an even bigger missed opportunity. With the field more crowded in the red zone, the opposing defense is given more leeway, and that’s a tough thing for a quarterback to deal with. Success in the red zone is all about successful decision-making, and a look at the best and worst red zone passers just about mirrors a list of great and terrible decision-makers at the position.
Although Seattle Seahawks second-year quarterback Russell Wilson is in a slump lately, there’s little doubt that he’s a very good decision-maker, especially for a player his age. One key to Wilson’s success this early in his career? Visualization.
Here’s what he said, via ESPN NFL Nation’s Terry Blount, about visualizing success in the red zone, “I try to visualize every situation. The biggest area I try to visualize is in the red zone, because things happen so much faster. You really have to be smart with the football and make quick decisions.”
Due to a shortened field and more blitzing from the opposition, it takes a quarterback who is great at making quick decisions to be efficient in the red zone. The Seattle Seahawks have 18 passing touchdowns to just one interception in the red zone, so it’s safe to say that Wilson does an excellent job in that part of the field. In fact, with Marshawn Lynch and Wilson (and Zach Miller as a red zone TE) it is extremely difficult to stop the Seahawks in that critical part of the field, which is something the San Francisco 49ers excel at as a defense (just look at what they did to the Carolina Panthers, though they aren’t nearly as efficient in the red zone as Seattle, last week).