About the Author of this post:
Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.
Red Zone is that area on the -20 and in. Red Zone puts the defense with their backs to the wall. An offensive goal that most teams have is to score everytime inside the Red Zone. Once your opponent has moved into the Red Zone territory, you now must change, or better yet slow down your drops in zone or man technique.
Philosophy of Red Zone Defense
Philosophy of Red Zone technique is to never beat a receiver to the end zone. If a receiver catches a pass in front of you in the end zone, it is a touchdown no matter how hard you hit him. We want the ball to be thrown over the secondary defenders, or thrown like a bullet between the defender and receiver if we are in zone coverage. If the offense has to throw a bullet, it had better be right on target or it’s intercepted. No matter what coverage we are in, this philosophy applies “Keep the Receiver Behind You”.
Remember, the width of the field never changes, but the distance to the goal line is constantly changing. The closer the offense gets to the goal line, the vertical field shrinks. The offensive philosophy must change to utilize the space available. The offense must either throw (quick fades, slants, outs) or they must utilize the width of the field with picks and crossing routes.
We must always be aware of the position of the ball to properly defend the field. The width will never change so you must always defend the entire width, but the vertical stretch to the goal line will change so you must defend the area of the field between the line of scrimmage and receivers.
When playing red zone technique we will use our normal technique according to the coverage called, except we will slow down our back pedals or drops to stay underneath the receivers. The closer the ball gets to the goal line, the slower will will back pedal or drop. Once the receiver we are defending crosses the goal line we should be between him and the ball at all times. Never beat the receiver into the end zone, this rule pertains to every coverage, zone or man. Don’t get behind the receiver or its a touchdown. If we are playing man then we will be between the receiver and the ball.
The only time we get deeper than the receiver in the end zone is if we get high-lowed by multiple receivers in our zone coverage. If we get a receiver in front of us and in back of us we will split the two receivers favoring the front receiver in order to break on the ball and stop the touchdown. Let the back end of the end zone help us defend the deeper receiver and play the fade pass aggressively, the quarterback must
lob the ball over our head but in front of the back of the end zone.