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Chargers Focused on Improvement in Red Zone

Posted Jun 2, 2014

The second week of OTA's kicked off with a focus on the red zone.

The red zone is arguably the most important area on the football field.  Games are often won or lost based on if a team is able to get seven points instead of settling for three or committing a turnover. As such, the San Diego Chargers emphasized red zone efficiency Monday when they returned for their fourth of 10 OTA sessions.

“We turned to the red area (today),” said Head Coach Mike McCoy.  “That’s an area that we need to improve from last year.  (There’s) a lot emphasis by the coaching staff, on offense and defense, on improving (in the red area). It wasn’t a bad start today, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”

So what does it take to be effective in the red zone?  According to many on offense, more than anything else it’s having the desire and mindset to not be denied.

“What it really comes down to in the red zone is who wants it more,” said Keenan Allen.   “You’ve got to have a lot of discipline, but you really need to have the attitude that no matter what, you are going to make a play.  So it was good to practice that a lot today, especially coming off last year when we didn’t do as well as we wanted to.  It’s something we have to get better at.”

D.J. Fluker expanded on Allen’s statement, hammering home the importance of having the right mindset.

“The key to the red zone is refusing to be denied,” the right tackle said.  “You have to make the most of your opportunity because it takes a lot of work to get down there.  We took the ball and moved it down near the end zone, so we have to make the most of the opportunity we gave ourselves.  Let’s go do it!  Let’s score! Give it everything you’ve got!  It all comes down to that mindset of not being denied and doing whatever it takes.  Of course you need to communicate and read the right keys, but that is how you score.”

The Chargers boasted a prolific offense in 2013. They ranked first in time of possession (33.35), first in third down conversions (49%), third in first downs per game (23.4) and fifth in yards per game (393.3). Yet despite those high rankings, they were just 12th in points per game (24.8).  While that was still an impressive number, the Bolts recognize they are capable of even more if they improve in the red zone.

“I just think we need to do the little things and not make any mistakes down there because settling for field goals instead of a touchdown is a four point swing,” said Eddie Royal, who had a career-high eight touchdowns in 2013. “You can’t turn the ball over and you can’t have minus yardage plays down there.  There are a lot of little details you have to be in tune with.  The quarterback and receivers need to be on the same page because there is not a lot of room down there.  And you need to be able to run the ball and mix it up.  The red zone is really key.  It’s a big point in the game, so that’s one area we are really focused on getting better at this year.”

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