To the novice, Madden is merely a video game. To the hardcore professional gamer Madden is much deeper than just pushing a few buttons here and there. Unfortunately, for individual reasons, we all can’t master the craft of becoming the world’s greatest Madden mind. That’s where we come in. Teaching you is our job! Today at Madden Tips, we give you a mind-blowing tour of what goes on in the heads of the greatest players on the planet!
In every play on either side of the ball there are always three time periods:
- Pre-play: From the time you pick your play until the snap.
- Live play: From the snap until the whistle is blown.
- Post-play: From the whistle until you select your next play.
Remember; Madden at its highest level is a chess match. Once the play is picked you can still make any hot route or use defensive playmaker to give you an edge. Don’t snap the ball until you are comfortable with the play you have called against the defense you see. If your opponent motions out the RB, then call a playmaker flat zone real quick. If you the defense bringing some A gap heat, audible to an outside run. These are all pre-play chess-type battles that players take on before every snap. Always try to make the last adjustments, and when you are comfortable, snap the rock!
All three areas need the finest attention to detail, otherwise we will see weakness in our game. The vast majority of gamers can certainly grasp the live play aspect, as that is the most practiced scenario. We all want live play knowledge, we all need the best live plays, and we all seem to forget about the pre- and post-play situations. Once you get a feel for this type of Madden gaming you will see your game success rise like it has never before. Let’s take a look at each specific scenario and break it down!
Every time we battle on the virtual gridiron, we get ready—maybe with a few practice reps in the lab, by playing an unranked game with a friend, or maybe even by playing against the computer. Is this really going to get us ready for a live opponent, though? Are we really using our precious free time in the best manner? Most reading this right now are saying to themselves, “Why, yes! Of course I am!” However, what are all those preparation techniques focusing on? Live play! What are you doing to prepare for your pre-play game plan? Focusing on a pre-play game plan can certainly be a daunting task. How can you truly prepare for something that hasn’t even happened yet? First and foremost, you need to know the weaknesses of your own play. If you truly don’t know the weaknesses of your own play, then how can you expect to know the weaknesses of the defense? Consider the weaknesses of your own play in these areas: pass protection, deep threats, quick hitters, the ability to run, and the ability to pass.
The list can certainly be bigger, but those are primarily our general weaknesses.
With whatever play you pick, first look to see what category your formation is weak in (this is where that list above comes in handy!). For the sake of this breakdown we are going to assume we are playing the greatest Madden player on the planet. We assume this because if we can realize our own weakness it is safe to assume that our opponent has keyed on this as well. If we know our weakness we know what our opponent will try to use to beat us. The same can be said for the flip side of this argument. If we know our strength we can assume that our opponent knows as well. Our opponent will then be trying to attack our weaknesses while reducing our strengths! Let’s take a look at what we mean by this¦
We come out in an HB Power O from I-Form Normal. Now, what are the strengths of this formation and what are its weaknesses?
Strengths: the ability to run, quick hitters, and moderate pass protection
Weaknesses: deep threats, moderate ability to pass, and elite pass protection
This is how we came to these conclusions: Any under-center formation is going to have the ability to run the ball effectively. It is also going to be able to pass quickly and attack the flats quicker than shotgun sets because we will have a good snap every time, and the defense has to respect play action off the run. Our pass protection can be good under center, but if we don’t properly block our players then we won’t have much time in the pocket to evade a good pass rush. Now let’s look at what we can assume the defense will be doing based solely off the formation we are using.
In this example we have come out in the I-Form Normal—HB Power O play. We have already figured our strengths and weaknesses and so has our opponent. Our next goal is to anticipate how our opponent is going to attack us. Based on our strengths and weaknesses list we can narrow down the possibilities. We can anticipate that the defense will not be playing a Cover 4 or Cover 3. The defense doesn’t need to respect any downfield routes because this formation does not fit that type of game plan. Therefore, it wouldn’t make much sense to place a good portion of our defense to protect downfield assignments. We can assume now that the defense will be in some sort of a Cover 2 zone or a man-to-man defense (both of which will provide a bump-and-run style of coverage).
Now that we have the defensive shell analyzed we move on to who may or may not be blitzing the line of scrimmage. When we are consistently pounding the rock the defense will need to commit more defenders to stop the run. The best way to do this is by attacking every gap on the offensive line. In order to achieve this the defense must commit at least six defenders to blitz. We have now just successfully broken down the defense pre-snap. Now that we have a good gauge of what they might be running, let’s see how we may want to attack that defense.
With this formation we really want to use its strengths first and foremost. Our first look is going to be the intentions of the formation. For this example that is running the ball. We want to run, run, and run again until the defense is over-committing to what we are doing. Once they do that, that is when we start mixing it up. We have been pounding the rock, and now the defense is completely over-committed to the run game. We now know they are in a Cover 2 or man-to-man and are blitzing six defenders. This means that of the remaining five defenders in a Cover 2 zone they have two in the flats, two deep, and one shallow. If it is man-to-man we know that everyone is manned up besides the HB. We attack this by always sending our HB into the flat, by either using a play that has the HB on an assigned flat route or by simply hot routing the HB on a flat or wheel route. This is our first read; if the HB is open keep on hitting him. Our opponent will have to soon make the adjustment to defend against the pass to the HB, that is when we start running again. It will be a nice cat-and-mouse game we play. Our next progression will be with the TE and the FB. Seeing as we have our HB running to the flat we want to work these two players over the middle of the field. The reason is that the defense only has one defender in this area, and last I checked it’s near impossible to defend two players with only one defender. Whatever combination you get to work for you, stick with it! Our last progression is our outside WRs. A weakness in the Cover 2 is the sidelines. If we want to attack this we want to send routes that will attack that area. Once we get into the flow of the game we will be consistently going back and forth with our opponent.
Now imagine if you did this with every formation! I bet you feel almost unstoppable right now. Once you start going about Madden correctly there is no reason you should ever be stopped unless you make the mistake. This is only part one of our three-step process. Stay tuned for next week’s breakdown as we analyze the live play aspect of the three-step scenario!