Play of the week: Chiefs' McCluster finds home in slot
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 7:06 p.m.
During his first two years in the NFL, Kansas City didn't know what to do with Dexter McCluster.
Finally, the Chiefs found a perfect home for the diminutive McCluster — as a slot receiver.
The Chiefs moved McCluster to the slot full time during this past offseason, and the 5-foot-9, 165-pounder has added flavor to a somewhat vanilla offense with the shotgun 3-wide receiver Y cross.
McCluster has 29 catches for 258 yards and a touchdown through the first half of the season, with the majority of his catches coming on crossing patterns in the middle of the field.
McCluster has been targeted 29 times from 10 yards or fewer, 15 of which came across the middle.
Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel has been more comfortable with McCluster in the slot, and the targets have increased in recent weeks.
McCluster has been targeted 20 times over the past three weeks and have averaged 32 pass routes per game during that span.
The Chiefs' favorite play has become the shotgun 3-wide receiver Y cross, which is designed to get McCluster matched up with a linebacker in man coverage.
Kansas City employs a three wide-receiver set, with Dwayne Bowe split out wide left and Jon Baldwin wide right. McCluster is aligned to the slot to the right of Bowe and to the strong side next to tight end Tony Moeaki, with Cassel in the shotgun and running back Jamaal Charles to his right.
With the offensive line set in pass pro, at the snap, Moeaki stays in and helps block the outside linebacker, while Charles checks for blitzing linebackers up the middle before flaring out into his check-down route.
Bowe rounds off a 15-yard in pattern, while Baldwin runs a 15-yard out pattern to the far sideline.
McCluster gets off the line of scrimmage and runs a 12-yard crossing pattern from left to right. Depending on the coverage, McCluster will either try to get underneath coverage or on top of it.
If it's man coverage, the linebacker is usually in trail coverage, which allows McCluster to have free reign underneath to outrun the defense.
If it's zone, Cassel will wait until McCluster comes into a passing window to make the throw, even if it is across the formation.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rice cornerback among 3 draft prospects to visit Steelers
- Despite many moves, Steelers’ depth still a work in progress
- 3 more college players visit Steelers ahead of NFL Draft
- Steelers’ Tomlin experiencing urgency entering 2014
- Steelers notebook: Today’s game creates tweaks to 3-4 defense
- Steelers get familiar exhibition opponents