In the NFL the RED ZONE part of the football field is from the defense’s 20-yard line and its goal line, from which the offense works to score points by crossing the end zone line. Performance and production within the Red Zone can be and is mis-leading. A quarterback that is very efficient in the Red Zone might be average from the 20-20, or outside of the Red Zone.
While studying data on Pro-Football Reference.com, I found that completion percentage is not the best or efficient way of measuring quarterback performance, and could be relevant in the Red Zone for several reasons.
While yardage measurement is problematic because all passes thrown in the Red Zone are truncated at the goal line. The quarterback’s season production is a better positional evaluation from a personnel point of view. The Red Zone is just a part of the equation, but is not necessarily the most important part when breaking down the position of quarterback. It is a fact that the total numbers may fool you when breaking down the passing percentage efficiency measured in the red zone. For example 5 yard completion in the Red Zone from the 5 on third down and goal is more meaningful than a 5 yard completion on third and eight from the 15 yard line.
Yards per attempt tells me a lot more when a passer is productive within the full frame of the field or 100 yard playing field. I learn more from a quarterbacks DNA (film) from a select set of passes in mid field than the Red Zone. A completion in the Red Zone is better than an incompletion or interception.
Data shows that a high Red Zone completion percentage is linked to a good quarterback both in mid field and Red Zone. I’m sure there are differences in systems, as well as Shot Gun vs. Traditional (QB under OC) which may or may not effect production in the Red Zone.
I’m certain that a lot of quarterbacks feel comfortable in mid field with a lot of real estate to work with, while others are wired differently and feel more confident in the Red Zone, with special ability to perform in a compressed area, like those that perform better on third down. But when I broke down the top ten quarterbacks, they are just as productive vs. attempts in the red zone compared to attempts in mid field.
The bottom line is a productive quarterback, is productive period. Without the teams list of plays called, I only think that formation and play calling, weighs a high percentage of the success of a quarterback, not to mention the weapons that surround them.