TE Crisscross is a rather nifty passing play for a big formation. While the namesake crossing routes of the play were designed to attack man coverage, the real strength of this play is that it offers different routes which are effective in attacking nearly every type of basic coverage you're likely to encounter. Man, soft zone, tight zone or press, there's a route in here that can work to your advantage. In most cases the gains won't be huge, but anytime you can get 8-12 yard gains from a run-first formation it's worth making use of in your offense. The one weakness of the play might be a hard blitz from a tight man coverage defense; the tight end pop routes critical to defeating a blitz can get jammed up early, leaving the quarterback holding the ball, under pressure with no place to throw.

Jumbo Wing - TE Crisscross

Besides the TE crossing slants the split end runs a post route and the halfback runs a swing to the strong side. The post mainly serves as a decoy. I like the post coming to the inside to draw the attention of the free safety away from the inside TE slant, leaving hopefully one-on-one coverage on this route. If you prefer to stretch the defense instead a corner or streak is a viable alternative here. The swing is nice as a late alternative due to its being run to the far side of the formation, unlike in many of my plays where swings are often used as blitz killers or hot reads. The TE slant out may draw coverage deep, letting the HB sneak free underneath, and with lots of time in the pocket both of these routes turning up the right sideline may overwhelm the coverage in that area.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 2yd
SE 10yd Post
Inside TE N6E6 (open)
Slot TE N6W6 (open)
FB Pass Block
RB Swing Right

See the Madden Playbook Guide for a description of these symbols.

Read Progression

  1. TE slant in
  2. TE slant out
  3. RB swing
  4. SE post

A nice aspect of the play is the simple, direct read progression. The first look is to the outside TE slanting in over the middle. Throw quick against a blitz, with velocity if you want to thread it between linebackers in zone, and lead to the left side against man. Next look right to the other TE slanting out. This is tough completion against man (and should be lead to the outside in this case for safety as much as to creating the necessary spacing), but works beautifully against a cornerback squatting in press coverage (but with no WR to press), and can also get wide open against tight zone coverages that focus on the flats. Third is the swing pattern. This takes a little longer than usual to develop and so is not very good against blitzes, which it might have to fight through on the strong side. This pattern works best against a loose zone, where it can make for a simple checkdown completion for an easy 3-5 yards.

The final read is to the SE post. This deep route requires good timing and a hard, accurate throw. I usually ignore it in favor of the higher percentage routes underneath, but the isolation provides a good opportunity for hot route audibles if you catch on to something in the defense. I have found out that it works pretty well against a Cover 3 zone defense. Compared with a Cover 2 where the route would be aimed right at the free safety, with Cover 3 the pass can be squeezed between the CB down the sideline and the safety in the middle. Not something to exploited at just any time, but keep it in mind in case you find an opponent who loves the Cover 3.




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