Western Cross is a pass play designed primarily for scoring touchdowns or converting first downs in short yardage or near goal line situations. Both the tight end and wide receiver on the right side of the formation pass block to protect against blitzes and optionally let the QB rollout, while the TE, WR and running back each run routes designed to exploit different types of coverage. This play won't gain a lot of yards, but it can gain the yards that really count.
The namesake of the play is the shallow crossing route run by the left split end. As originally designed, the QB buys time using a combination of pump fakes to the TE streak and rollouts behind the reinforced right side before firing a bullet to the WR. The WR must fight through heavy traffic just behind the defensive front, but gets a bit of help by rubbing off of the TE route to shake the initial coverage. Once the LBs are cleared it should be an easy one-on-one matchup against a trailing DB in man coverage, or the WR can slow down and find a soft spot against zone coverage.
Close to the goal line, or against a blitz, the QB may not have the time to wait for the crossing route to develop. One option is to motion the RB into a blocking position which can provide more time, as well as protection against inside blitzes, but at a high cost of removing one of the plays most effective routes. Otherwise the TE is a good option off of a quick drop, but the QB needs to be sure a throwing lane opens up before firing the quick pass. The running back can exploit CB man coverage by running into the open outside cleared by the SE on the cross, and when this play is used in the open field can attack deep down the sideline against Cover 2 zones. With a mobile QB several rollout options are available, including turning the play into a run-pass option where a LB is forced to choose between attacking the QB or staying back in pass coverage against the cross, or rolling out to the left side to force a similar defensive choice against the swing pass.
|Left SE||N1-E6 (open)|
|Left TE||10yd Streak|
|Right TE and SE||Pass Block|
See the Madden Playbook Guide for a description of these symbols.
- Left TE streak
- RB swing
- Left SE shallow cross
The TE streak will usually be smothered by the safeties deep, but is often open immediately after the snap along a seam in zone defenses or against a blitz. Look for this throw quickly and gun the ball in hard to prevent the defenders in the area from reacting in time. In the open field a pump fake in the place of an actual throw here can help freeze the defenders to help the swing and crossing routes get open. Next look to the swing pass, which is the best bet near the goal line because the shallow cross may take too long to get open against heavy pressure. Just make sure that a LB or CB is not able to jump the route; an interception could easily go the other way for a TD. Finally, look for the shallow cross. This route needs time to develop so that the throw can be safely made against one-on-one coverage outside of the LBs. With a maneuverable QB you might want to rollout to the right to buy time and pull the LBs away from the receiver to ensure single coverage.
- Easy read progression
- Solid pass protection
- Lots of flexibility for mobile QBs using rollouts
- Limited in the open field
- Strong zone coverage can take away primary crossing route
- Vulnerable to strong pass rushes directly up the middle
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