Note: This is the third 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 post-play adjustments.
Not even a hurricane could stop us from putting up the final post in our popular three-part series!
Once the whistle blows to end the play and you begin the jog back to the huddle, you have many decisions to make, and many are predicated on the last thing that happened during that play. Let’s take a look at possible situations that happened during the last play and break down our thoughts.
Note: All of these come from the viewpoint of a player with confidence, so if you lack confidence you won’t have these same thoughts and positive outlook for the next play. Assume your opponent is scared of your defense and is nervous your offense will score every time you touch the rock. Don’t be cocky, but have some confidence, people!
You’ve got the rock and the right to control the game; let’s look at the scenarios.
Success: You have just gained a first down, or whatever pre-play goal you had worked out in your mind (run down the clock, get first down on third and 1, get out of bounds, set up another play).
Your immediate thought should be, “Should I run hurry-up?” This has to be one of your quickest thoughts because the window for pressing this button is so tight. I rarely use this tactic (you will see why with the defensive mindset below), but I am more apt to run hurry-up after a successful play than an unsuccessful play. I usually won’t run the same play, either.
Next, ask yourself, “Why was that play a success?”
- Did it advance your gameplan or field position, set up a future play, or beat a specific defense?
- Would I expect my opponent to change the defense or run the same play against that formation again?
- Do I have any adjustments to make to that play that my opponent hasn’t seen at this point in the game yet?
- Did the defense try to shut down any specific thing or area of the field? How can I attack that with the same look?
Failure: Your play didn’t net the desired result—you might have had a 23-yard gain but on third and 26 it wasn’t what you needed or tried to do before the play.
Again, consider the hurry-up. Don’t run the hurry-up after a failed play just because you think you saw something and want to exploit it—chances are your opponent saw the same thing. That’s one reason I hate the hurry-up. Here’s an example: You get sacked because all your WRs are covered, but you notice the RB was open. You call hurry-up offense to try and hit the RB quickly. Your opponent makes one tiny adjustment by manning up a blitzer or using a flat zone and, BAM, your QB is sacked again. You ran the same play, which didn’t work, and only gave yourself one option to look for. Chances are your opponent knows where the defense’s weakness is better than you know after one play.
Now you have to ask yourself, “Why didn’t that play work?”
- Was it a pre-play error or a bad read?
- Was it just bad stick work? For example, should I have cut it inside or followed the blockers better?
- Was it a gameplay randomizer like a dropped pass?
- Did my opponent do what I expected against this play? Would he or she run that same defense again with same result?
These are the types of questions that need to quickly run through your head on offense before you select your next play. This is why having a scheme, as discussed in our Specialized Offensive Guides, helps you be confident in knowing a playbook and what play to run when you ask these questions.
Determine what your goal is on a defensive series. Do you need a stop? Are you playing vs. the clock or trying to get the ball back? Is it just a normal series? Is your goal to limit the run game? Is this a situation where a field goal is okay but a touchdown means a loss?
Success: Your opponent runs a play and the pass is incomplete. You expected your opponent to run a certain type of play and were ready for it. Now, on this side of the ball here are some questions you can ask:
- Did my opponent expect me to run that defense against this play?
- Would this opponent call the same play against this defense?
- Is the offense still trying to accomplish the same thing on this drive? (Are they still looking for a TD or have they shifted to a field goal mindset?
- Was my opponent trying to set me up for something?
- Can I make any adjustments or would I call that same defense again?
Failure: You let up a big play or weren’t ready for a certain style of play.
Here’s an example of this happening and not correcting it: This happened when Randy Moss caught his 23rd TD pass and Tom Brady’s 50th TD pass against the Giants in the final game of regular season (2008). Brady aired it to Moss for an incomplete pass, and the Giants thought, “We won that play because the ball was incomplete.” However, it was just a physical error—the intention was right and the Pats on the next play went right back and just threw the ball a little better for 7 points.
The Giants may have said, “Well, the pass was incomplete, so that’s a good play,” when in fact they blew the coverage. Adjustments are huge in Madden. You need to analyze whether it was a user error such as calling Cover 1 against four go routes, or if you just didn’t click on in time or hit the wrong button.
Now, don’t abandon your game plan after one failed play. Be ready to get in a great chess match with the offense. You have numerous chances throughout a game to make big plays—remember that it only takes one play to shift a Madden game!
- Q: At what point does post-play turn into pre-play?
- A: Once you select your play—until then you should be considering down and distance, and your situation in the game and drive.
Articles 1, 2, and 3 repeat, and 3 quickly blends back into 1. You will be thinking about many of the same things during pre-play and post-play. You will be reconsidering game situations and advanced strategy after the whistle of every play and then setting yourself up to succeed in those situations pre-play.
We hope this series lets you inside the chess match that occurs in Madden NFL 13 every play. We need to have our button presses and adjustments down so we can clear our minds to think about these aspects. Game management should be embedded in your head so you don’t have to think, just simply react!