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Browns aim to get WR Gordon downfield in man coverage

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Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Browns CB Joe Haden

MATCHUP: Brown is turning into one of the best receivers in the league but will face his toughest test to date with Haden. Brown has caught at least five passes in each game this year while Haden — who follows the opposition's best receiver around the field — has surrendered more than five catches only twice, neither of which came in the past two months.

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BROWN: Brown is coming off one of the best games of his career, catching seven passes for 147 yards and a pair of TDs against the Lions. He leads the NFL with 74 receptions and is 48 yards shy of becoming the fourth Steelers' player to record 1,000 yards in the team's first 11 games. He caught only one pass against Haden a year ago, but it went for a 9-yard touchdown.

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HADEN: Haden had two interceptions against the Bengals last week, returning one for a TD. He has been lining up against the opposing team's top receiver and has shut them down — Mike Wallace one catch, Greg Jennings three, Stevie Johnson two, Calvin Johnson three, Jordy Nelson five, Dwayne Bowe one, A.J. Green two (in Nov. 17 meeting). Haden has allowed 36 catches for 372 yards and one TD in 10 games.

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Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 10:33 p.m.
 

No matter who the quarterback has been for the Browns this season — Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell — the goal has remained the same, and that's to get the ball deep to Josh Gordon.

And that's what the Browns' quarterbacks have done ever since Gordon was a second-round supplemental pick last year.

All nine of Gordon's touchdowns in two seasons have gone for over 20 yards, including four this year. His 17.2 yards per catch over the past two years is tops in the league and his 18.8 yards per receptions is second best this year.

Those numbers concern Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, whose team has allowed its share of big plays this year.

“That is a down-the-field position,” Tomlin said. “He fits the bill. He makes consistent plays down the field.”

Gordon has 40 receptions for 751 yards in only eight games (he was suspended two games to start the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy) and has receptions of more than 30 yards in six games.

One of the plays the Browns like to use to get Gordon down the field is gun twins left strong right Z wheel. It's a play designed to get Gordon single coverage deep down the field.

The Browns line up in the shotgun with twins left — Greg Little split out wide and Gordon in the slot.

Running back Fozzy Whittaker is alongside quarterback Jason Campbell in the backfield to the weak side with tight end Jordan Cameron at the end of the line and Davone Bess split out wide right.

At the snap, center Alex Mack and left guard John Greco double team the three technique tackle with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and Cameron doubling the outside linebacker. Whittaker will slide from the left side of the formation to the right after the snap and will either help block or slip into the flat as a check down option.

Bess (the Y receiver) will run off the corner on the right side of the formation with a go route as the design of the play is to get Gordon the ball on the opposite sideline.

The X receiver (Little) runs a deep corner across the formation and the Z receiver (Gordon) hesitates at the cross point with Little before running a wheel route down the sideline.

The key to the play is to create separation at the crossing point between the X and Z receivers.

Gordon will cross underneath Little, making it difficult for the man-coverage corner to stay with the speedy Gordon.

Campbell, who throws a nice deep ball, will look off the single-high safety with a pump fake before throwing the ball deep down the sideline to Gordon.

That play resulted in a 74-yard touchdown against the Bengals last week, beating Dre Kirkpatrick.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

 

 

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