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Browns play to watch: 3 Wide Y Shallow Cross

| Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 10:58 p.m.

The NFL is all about offensive matchups.

Coaches go to great lengths to try to create matchups that will result in big plays, and Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress is no different.

It starts with trying to get one of their speedy receivers matched up on a linebacker, and the way to accomplish that is through formations, especially on early downs.

The Browns did that last month against the Steelers on the first play of the game when Lawrence Timmons got matched up on Josh Gordon on a “3-wide shallow Y cross.”

Gordon crossed the formation and picked up 26 yards — 23 after the catch.

The play is simple but confusing because of its formation, with a lot of movement before the snap.

The Browns line up in an I-formation with trips tight to the left and receiver Greg Little wide to the right.

Before the snap, tight end Benjamin Watson flips to the right side and sets at the end of the line, while Cameron Jordan splits out wide left at the numbers. Gordon moves a couple feet to his left and into the slot.

At the snap, Jordan runs a deep curl and Little a deep slant to take the free safety and strong safety out of the middle of the field.

Watson runs a curl in the middle and takes an inside linebacker with him, while running back Montario Hardesty flares into the left flat to bring the right outside linebacker with him.

That sets up Gordon for one-on-one coverage with an inside linebacker.

Gordon avoids the jam of the outside linebacker, who then covers the running back in the slot, and runs a shallow cross across the formation.

Quarterback Thad Lewis, making his first start, will wait until Gordon clears the far hash marks before delivering the ball in stride. Gordon will be able to turn up the field for big yardage if he beats the linebacker trailing him.

The Browns want to get the ball to Gordon, a speedy receiver who was a rookie supplemental pick out of Baylor.

Gordon (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) has 46 catches for 766 yards and five touchdowns. His 308 yards after the catch is 10th in the NFL.

Gordon has struggled lately.

He caught one pass for 6 yards in Denver last week when the Browns were throttled, 34-12. A week earlier, he was held to three catches for 27 yards by the Redskins.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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