Browns like to mix it up with undrafted converted QB
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The read option is not a big part of the Cleveland Browns' offense.
They might have used it five times all season.
However, that doesn't suggest they are unable or unwilling to do it, especially with former Minnesota quarterback/wide receiver and current tight end/fullback MarQueis Gray seeing more playing time.
When you throw in receiver Josh Gordon as a decoy or legitimate option as an end around, you can understand why Cleveland's twins right quarterback read option has caught the eye of Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau in preparation of Sunday's regular-season finale.
“He seems like he gets 7 or 8 yards every time he touches the ball,” LeBeau said. “We were fortunate the first game because he wasn't active. I know we are going to see it this week. We always prepare for it.”
But the Steelers have never seen it run by a 6-foot-4, 250-pound converted quarterback such as Gray.
Gray was recruited to Minnesota to play quarterback but couldn't beat out Adam Weber, so the Golden Gophers moved Gray to wide receiver in his first two seasons. The following season, he moved to quarterback, where he ran the read option.
Gray wasn't taken in April's draft and signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent. He was one of the 49ers' last cuts in training camp and quickly was picked up by the Browns.
Gray hasn't seen much action, getting only about five snaps a game. He was inactive for four games.
However, Gray gave the Browns' stagnant offense a boost two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears when he ran consecutive read-option plays that went for 18 and 12 yards to set up a Browns touchdown.
For the season, Gray has only 39 yards on five carries and two catches for 8 yards.
The Browns line up in a strong right formation with tight end Jordan Cameron just outside the tackle standing up with Gordon in the slot to the right and Greg Little split out wide right.
Quarterback Jason Campbell will do one of two things. He will line up at quarterback and motion far left as a receiver, or he will line up coming out of the huddle to the left.
At the snap, left guard John Greco pulls to the right just outside the far shoulder of center Alex Mack in order to get a block on an inside linebacker on the second level — most notably the weak side backer. Right guard Garrett Gilkey will double to the defensive end with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz before scraping to the second level to get a block on the strong side linebacker. The rest of the offensive line will slide protect.
The Browns will run a read-option play but also have handed the ball to Gordon on an end around.
On the read option, Gray will read the left outside linebacker. If he is blocked or comes upfield, Gray keeps the ball and follows the pulling guard. Gray will hand the ball to Edwin Baker around right end.
Along with having the twist of Gordon on an end around, Gray is capable of throwing a pass.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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