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Ask and Ye Shall Receive, Bills Fans

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Yesterday, when I posted my comments on Anthony Bialy's story about the Bills' red zone ineffectiveness, it seemed to me that the stats that Bialy ran were a bit off. Then Kurupt asked the following question in the comments:

I'd be interested to know how those red zone numbers stack up over the second half of last season. It seemed we were much better in the red zone then, though still not that good. Incorporating Royal into the offense was a boost to the red zone offense, IMO, and needs to continue this year...

So, ask and ye shall receive. I decided to run the stats - and it seems like the general feeling that Buffalo's red zone performance improved in the second half of the season was a myth:

First Eight Games
16 red zone trips
8 touchdowns
50% conversion rate
3-5 record

Second Eight Games
19 red zone trips
7 touchdowns
36.8% conversion rate
4-4 record

Top Red Zone Scorers
Willis McGahee - 4 touchdowns
Peerless Price - 3 touchdowns
Anthony Thomas - 2 touchdowns
Robert Royal - 2 touchdowns
J.P. Losman, Josh Reed, Lee Evans, Ryan Neufeld - 1 touchdown each

So where did this anomaly come from? It's obvious that our offense was far more effective in the second half of the season, but it seems that the effectiveness came more by big plays than red zone efficiency. The 13% drop in TD conversion rate in the red zone is very surprising, given the fact that the Bills put up some solid point totals in the second half of the year (they scored less than 20 points just twice in the eight games).

Big plays were the reason. Losman had multiple long touchdown passes to Lee Evans and also had 20+ yard strikes to Robert Royal and Josh Reed. We also had touchdown returns from the likes of Nate Clements, Terrence McGee and Roscoe Parrish to skew our point totals. It seems that our offense did not grow as much as we thought it did in the red zone; in fact, it got much worse.

If we're going to win some of the close games we should have won last year, we certainly need to be more effective at scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Contrary to popular opinion, it seems that the Bills have a lot more growth to do in this department than most Bills fans (including yours truly) realize.