The Crossing Series

The crossing series is a five man route concept that can be called in different formations.  Whether it’s 2×2, 3×1, or 3×2, this passing series stretches the defense vertically and horizontally.  It’s a great concept against man defense, middle of the field open (MOFO) or middle of the field closed (MOFC). 

The five man route concept has a combination of routes for three receivers to one side of the field, and two receivers to the other side of the field.

The combination for the three receiver side:

  1. Post
  2. Cross
  3. Flat

The combination for the two receiver side:

  1. Go
  2. Dig

The crossing route always comes from the three receiver side. The coach has the freedom to tag which receiver will run the crossing route.  Once the receiver is tagged for the crossing route, the other two receivers, from the outside-in, will run the Post and the Flat.

The same is for the two receiver side. The Go and the Dig are from the outside-in.

In a 3×1 formation, the running back will be the #2 receiver from the backfield to the one receiver side. In a 2×2 formation, the running back must be used as the #3 receiver to the side of the tagged crossing route.

Let’s look at a few examples from each formation.

The Crossing Series

Empty Left Scat 1 Y Cross

y is running the cross in this crossing series
Figure 1

On the three receiver side:

YThe Y has been tagged for the crossing route in this play.  He will run a shallow cross from 3-5 yards and is the 2nd read in this progression. 
ZZ is the most outside receiver so he is responsible for the Post over the top. This is a 9 step Post. He is the 4th option in this route concept because the Post will take the longest to develop.
AThe A has the Flat route as the #3 receiver. He’ll run his route underneath the Y cross as he leans on his outside hip and gets his head around to expect the football right away. He is the first option in the QB’s progression.

On the two receiver side:

XOn this two receiver side the X is on the outside, which means he is responsible for the Go route. The X needs to attack the corner’s outside hip and close his cushion as quickly as possible.
HThe back is in the slot on the two receiver side in this empty formation. He is responsible for the Dig route over the middle. The depth of this route is 10-12 yards. The back, or any receiver for that matter, must be coached to settle in the open windows over the middle of the field on the Dig route. Common mistakes made on this route are players “running to coverage” and passing up windows, rather than settling. The Dig is the 3rd option in this concept as his route will take longer to develop than the cross and the flat.
QBThe Go route on the two receiver side and the flat route from the three receiver side are both primary routes in the progression. The Go route is a pre-snap read for the QB based on the corners depth. If the corner is at, or under 5 yards, then the QB has the green light to hit the Go route.

His post-snap progression begins with the Flat route. If the A out leverages the OLB to the outside, then the QB will throw it to the flat. If the OLB is wide and maintains leverage to the outside, then the QB can accelerate his progression to the middle of the field with the Cross, Dig and Post.

The QB will read the middle linebackers and the safety near the Post. The progression on these three routes will be from front to back. QB will throw the Cross if the LB’s get depth and sit under the dig. Conversely, if the LB’s jump the shallow cross, then he’ll throw the Dig route over the top. Lastly, the Post is the 4th read in the progression and is an option if the near safety bites on the dig route underneath.

Right Scat 1 X Cross

x cross in the crossing series
Figure 2

On the three receiver side:

XThe X is now tagged as the crosser. He will bring his splits down from the top of the numbers so that he can get across the field. The route is ran at 3-5 yards and will come underneath the A right off the LOS.
ANow that X has been tagged for the Cross, the A has the Post over the top since he’s the most outside receiver with the H in the backfield. The A will run a 9 step Post and is responsible to cut the top off the near safety. This is a long developing route which makes A the last read in the post-snap progression.
HThe running back is used as the #3 receiver in the combination of Post, Cross Flat. He’s responsible for running the Flat. The back will line up on the outside leg of the Tackle so that he can quickly get out of the backfield and into the flats. The back is still the 1st read in the progression.

On the two receiver side:

ZWorking form the outside-in is Go and Dig, which means the Z has the Go route on the two receiver side. The Go route is a pre-snap read based on the corner’s depth.
YThe second receiver on the two receiver side is the Y. He is now responsible for the Dig route over the middle of the field. This intermediate route is the third read in this progression and is usually open with the LB’s getting pulled horizontally with the Flat route from the H, and the Crossing route from the X.
QBAgain, the QB’s pre snap read begins with the CB on the side of the Go route. If the corner is at, or under 5 yards, then the Go route is live.

His post snap read in this formation begins with the back out in the flat. His eyes will immediately go to the corner and will throw the flat if the corner pedals or flows with X.

The QB will quickly accelerate to his next progression if the Corner sits in the flat. He’ll then get his eyes on the middle LB’s and the safety on the near Post. The progression here is similar to the play in Figure 1. If the LB’s get depth with the action of the Post and Dig from the slots, then the QB will throw the cross underneath. If LB’s jump the Cross, then the QB will go over the top to the Dig. Finally, if the near safety to the Post bits on the dig route in front of him, the QB will go over the top to the Post.

Trips Scat 1 A Cross

Figure 3

On the three receiver side:

ZThe Z is the most outside receiver and is responsible for the 9 step Post. In this two high look (MOFO) the Z is trying to cut the top off the near safety.
YWith A tagged as the Cross, and Z responsible for the Post, Y is going to run the flat route from the #2 receiver on the three receiver side.
AThe A is tagged as the Cross from the #3 receiver. He is going to run his cross at 3-5 yards working to the other side of the field, but will not pass through windows.

On the two receiver side:

XHe is the most outside receiver on the two receiver side which means he is responsible for running the Go route. Same rules applies as in previous plays.
HIn this 3×1 formation, the H is going to be the #2 receiver to the backside. That means he is responsible for the Dig route of the middle of the field. The back will line up on the outside leg of the tackle to give him the shortest distance to getting into the Dig route. This is going to take a bit longer to develop because the Dig is coming from the backfield. The Dig route is still the 3rd option in the progression.
QBThe same pre-snap read applies with the Go route. The QB will also pre-snap read the alignment of the “$” in this formation to accelerate his post-snap read of the Flat route.

The post-snap read begins in the same order as in previous plays. First QB will read the “$” for leverage on the Flat route. If the “$” gets width to rob the flat, then the QB’s eyes will move to the middle of the field on the LB’s and the Safety near the Post.

The same read for the Cross, Dig, Post applies to Figure 3 as they did in Figure 1&2.

When to Utilize The Crossing Series

The crossing series is an every down passing concept. It’s perfect for offenses that scheme for their athletes to play in space. It’s also a highly efficient passing concept because it attacks the defense horizontally and vertically with quick, short passes that are layered with intermediate and deep routes.

If you have a RB that is athletic enough to run routes and catch the football, then the crossing series can be used in all formations. You can gain an advantage by creating a mismatch with LB’s on the RB when he’s tagged as the Cross or the intermediate Dig route. If you’re not comfortable with your RB running routes over the middle of the field, then he can be utilized as the Flat route from the 3 receiver side.

Worried about pass protection and keeping the QB on his feet?

The crossing series takes care of that.

If the QB feels the rush from LB’s or overhang defenders, then the ball will come out hot to either the Cross or the Flat. That decision is based on whichever route is occupying the vacated space from the blitz. The quick pass game that is integrated in the crossing series is what will protect the QB when the defense decides to bring more than 5 guys on a pass rush.

The crossing series has everything you need to attack any type of coverage. With the routes stretching the defense both vertically and horizontally at the same time, they create wide open windows to throw the ball into. With the right amount of time dedicated to practicing the different post-snap reads, the crossing series is a successful passing concept that every coach should implement.

Questions about The Crossing Series? Email us at spreadoffensefootball@gmail.com

If you’d like to write for The Spread Offense and share your football knowledge with other like minded spread offense enthusiasts, then send us an email or message us on twitter!

Scroll to Top