Note: This is the second article of a three-part series that breaks down everything you need to know about adjustments.
In every Madden 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.
All three areas need the finest attention to detail, otherwise we will see weakness in our game. Today we look at the middle period.
LIVE PLAY MINDSET
From snap to whistle and from sideline to sideline is when and where Madden games are won. In the first article we broke down everything you can learn about setting up your play and using advanced strategy. However, you can’t move the ball and score points until the snap. This is a huge element of playing Madden—you can add all the bells, whistles, and presentation elements to the game, but the bread and butter is always going to be playing football. Laying down hit sticks, throwing TDs, and juking defenders will always be at the core of Madden, and these games have always gotten this right. Let’s take a look at how to maximize our potential while the ball is in play.
The play clock is ticking down, you have made your pre-snap reads, you snap the ball and then look to see if the blitzers you expected to blitz are coming or have dropped back to fill up the lanes.
On a run play, do not press turbo. Receive the hand-off and wait for the assignment to be blocked. Wait for the hole and then accelerate with turbo. You can’t afford to sacrifice the sharp left-to-right cuts you can make while running slowly.
On pass plays, we have our five reads all picked out because we have a plan and have made our audibles pre-snap! Look at the deep safeties: If one drops back then it’s Cover 1 man or Cover 3 zone; if both stay deep then it’s Cover 2. We used to already know whether it was man or zone with the pre-snap reads, but in Madden NFL 13, we can’t determine it until after the snap! The other things we determine when the ball is snapped are blitzers and safety help. Last, we look to see if the defensive line is dropping back and whether it is a zone blitz or all-out coverage. Start looking at your primary read and keep scanning the field. We have specifically engineered plays where guys come open at different times as you progress through your reads.
Here is an example of what I do on a specific play. I will use my base play, since coming out in one play is easily a great way to get better and a key ingredient of the 5 Sets for Success!
Gun Spread—Curl Flats: Now, this play has a few different adjustments, which are all predicated on what I see pre-snap, but once I decide to snap it there is no going back.
At first, I look to see if there is a jam at the line from the corners or if they back up. (If they are already back, I knew what I was getting pre-snap.) If they are up close and press and follow, I know I have man. If they press and let go, I know it is Cover 2 zone. I then look to see if the safeties drop back to the outside or to the middle. Next, I quickly check to see if there is a blitz coming from the outside (it took years to not be flustered by this). I know my first read is the slot left. There shouldn’t be press since I motioned this player to get him free. My concern is if I see a lineman drop back or a user defender in the area. If there is one then I move to read number two and start to look right.
Next I check my second and third reads, who are the right receivers on curl routes. (The flat route on the right is thrown to based on a pre-snap find, not post-snap—he is never going to beat a guy and is only open if uncovered and is mostly used as a way to draw attention from flat/buzz zones.) If they are locked up (great timing) I look for the back, who is now starting his cut across the field (unless I had to block him for a blitz). If all else fails my fifth and final read is to pick up a few yards with my QB’s legs and close it out with a safe slide.
Now, if there had been bump, I would skip and go right quicker. If there is outside blitz pressure, I won’t be rolling out and would dump the ball quicker. These are the reasons we lab and build a scheme. We are confident that no matter what the defense brings during the play we can make quick adjustments to move the play.
If everyone drops back at the snap, I just sit in the pocket and use playmaker to move my guys around until I feel confident slinging the ball.
While you can score points in your head before the play with good calls and celebrate after, you must execute during the play and have tremendous sticks while playing.
On defense, only go for the hit stick when you have specific backup in the open field. Otherwise it can be too risky a play. The more plays it takes the offense to get in the end zone the better chance you have of forcing a turnover.
When using a defender in open space, here is a commonly used tactic:
Get the defender in good position and slow him up by running upfield with him (you will cost yourself 5 or 10 yards). This will give players behind the play a chance to catch up and also get your main defender in good position to make a tackle. When you have him in optimal position and angled, click off the user player and allow the computer to make a tackle. This ensures you will not whiff, and the CPU is a pretty sure tackler. Now, this won’t stop a player from breaking the tackle, but you have slowed this up already and you will click onto another defender whom you continue to run upfield and get in pursuit. The broken tackle animation takes a few seconds and you should be able to recover.
If you don’t have great confidence in your stick ability, you must play smart and not try to go for the interception when making a user swat will do. Keeping the offense on the field in Madden but out of the end zone is a pretty good strategy. They can go 11 for 11, but if the 12th play is an interception then no damage is done. Bend but don’t break.
On offense, during the play it’s key to have a plan and execute it. Be patient and not afraid to take a sack. Know what button to press for which receiver. Top Madden players simply don’t make mistakes like pressing the wrong receiver’s button. Most of this comes with confidence in a player’s game and the patience to throw the ball away and move on to the next play. You get 3–4 chances to make a first down except if you throw a pick on first down. I have thrown balls hundreds of times that I knew were gonna get picked. Why? Lack of patience, discipline, and confidence in my game. Now during the play, I stick to my plan and know the situation and buttons that will make me successful. Once I complete the pass, I move onto part 3 of my adjustments—post-play adjustments—as we run back to the line of scrimmage to huddle up!