It’s true, Madden fans – SGibs and ZFarls are motormouths! They get so excited about bringing you Madden NFL tips, they forget you may not know every intricate detail they have spent the last 16 years learning. They answer your questions live on TWIM but speak in a "Madden" language that sounds like Latin to you. No fear; here is a full breakdown of all the terms you need to get your mind back in football shape!
Feel free to email us at ZFarls@maddentips.com or SGibs@maddentips.com if you have any additional questions, or hit us up in the comments!
- General Terms
- Defensive Playmaker Adjustments
- Offensive Hot Routes
- Positions: Offense
- Positions: Defense
A Gap — The gap in the offensive line between the center and the guards is the A gap. There is one to the right and one to the left. This is the fastest way to the QB since it’s right up the middle.
Audible/Audibling — The act of coming to the line and then changing your play. If you call something in the huddle and get to the line of scrimmage and realize the defense is doing something different than you expected, you want to call an audible. This will allow you to change your play to something you think will work better. You can set up to five audibles before the game to make sure you are ready for any situation. Sometimes this is called "checking down to a formation."
Balanced Formation — A balanced formation is one in which the offense has the same number of personnel on each side of the field. Examples include Singleback Ace and Shotgun 4WR.
Blitz — On offense, the defense may look to blitz you by bringing more defenders towards your QB than you can block. On defense, you blitz by rushing more players at the QB than your opponent can block. This leaves your coverage vulnerable, but you may force the offense into a bad decision or get a sack.
Block an HB — Blocking an HB is done by putting a player behind the line into a blocking hot route. This will help if you sense a blitz coming at your offense and want him to stay in and block.
Blue Route — This is a “block-and-release” route, which tells your offensive player whose route is blue to help block before releasing out on his route for a pass.
The Box — The area on defense before the snap where the defensive line and LBs line up. Looking at "the box" can help you decide if the defense is defending a run and has "eight defenders in the box" or not.
Bump-n-run — See "Press Coverage."
Bunch Set/Formation — Three players stacked tightly together on one-half of the field makes a bunch set or bunch formation. A bunch is great for flooding certain areas of the field. An example is Singleback Bunch.
Check Down — To dump off a short pass to the halfback or last option on a play, especially after seeing that your other options are covered. Examples include a drag or quick hitch. You can also check down to a different formation pre-snap by audibling.
Clicking onto a Player — This is the act of switching your player mid-play to control someone close to the action. “I clicked onto the WR and tried to make the catch.”
Cover 2 — This is when the two cornerbacks play flat zones while the two deep safeties play deep halves. The linebackers play hook zones. The Tampa Cover 2 is the same except the MLB plays a deep third with the two deep safeties.
Depth Chart — The area of the game where you can set your lineup. Access this by pressing the pause menu and you can set which players play where.
Draw — This is a run play that makes believe the offense is passing. The QB drops back and the receivers start to run routes. Once the defense is fooled, the QB hands off to the RB, who looks for open running lanes.
Dropping a Lineman — Placing a defender on the line of scrimmage into a zone assignment. This is most common with a zone blitz play.
Empty Set — A common formation with an empty set is Shotgun Empty. The backfield is "empty" because there are five WRs in on the play.
Flat — The area of the field outside of the tackles near the sideline in line with the line of scrimmage. The most common term is a “pass to the flat,” which means a short pass to the HB who is running towards the sideline from out of the backfield. The right side would be the right flat, and the left side would be the left flat.
Flood — When you send more receivers into a certain area of the field than the opponent has coverage. One example is Four Verticals against a Cover 3 defense. You have four receivers downfield and the opponent only has three defenders deep — therefore one must be open.
Horizontal Passing Concepts — Attacking the field with a short to medium passing game that uses safe throws to keep the chains moving. This offense lacks the big plays of a vertical passing game but should yield a higher percentage of completed throws. The mesh concept is a horizontal passing concept.
Hot Route — Before the snap, you can change any of your players’ route assignments to one of eight pre-set routes based on his position. If you read that the defense is weak in a certain area, look to call a hot route or use multiple hot routes to create a new play on the fly.
Hurry-Up Offense — After a play you can call your players back to the line of scrimmage without going back to the play-call screen. The last play you called will be selected and the defense won’t be able to substitute. This up-tempo offense can be used to tire out the defense and keep them off balance. It is also known as a no-huddle offense.
Juke — Use the right stick to have your offensive player make a move to fake out the defender.
Line of Scrimmage — A horizontal plane where the ball is spotted right before it’s snapped. This is where the linemen blocking the defense take their places.
Madden Gem — A Madden gem is a lower-rated player who has high attribute ratings in position-specific attributes. Example: A wide receiver with a 67 Overall rating but a 95 Catch in Traffic or 90+ Speed rating is a Madden gem. (For help finding these players at each position, see our ratings podcast.)
Manning Up an Offensive Player — When a particular player on defense is assigned to cover a WR, RB, or TE in passing situations, that is "manning up."
Max Coverage Defense — Dropping nine or more defenders into coverage to combat pass-heavy offenses.
Mesh — When two short underneath routes from the opposite sides of the formation overlap each other they form a "mesh" (meeting point) that creates a "rub." (See "Picks and Rubs.")
Motion a WR — Before the snap, you can highlight an offensive player (WR, TE, or HB) and have him move to a new position. When the blue circle is underneath him, use the D-pad to move him to a new position. This can create new formations and forces the defense to watch where you move your player.
No Huddle Offense — See "Hurry-Up Offense."
Option Run — A play where the QB can either hand off the ball to his teammate or keep it for himself depending on what he sees with the defense.
Overloading — Assigning more defenders to a specific gap or area of the field than the offense can potentially block, such as with the Overload Blitz.
Packaging — Using packages at the play-call screen with the right stick can sub specific players into the game for special situations. For example, the Dual HB package will take out the FB and place another HB into the game at his position.
Pistol — This is a unique formation where the QB takes a shotgun snap but the HB still lines up behind him. You’ll find the Pistol in the Detroit Lions playbook, for example.
Picks and Rubs — Routes that mirror one another from the opposite side of the field can cause a defender to get mixed up or lose track of the WR he’s covering when the routes cross one another.
Pinching the Line — Globally shifting your defensive line into the middle of the formation pre-snap.
Play-Action Pass — Play action involves faking a handoff to the back to try to fool the defense into thinking it’s a run. The QB still has the ball and looks to throw.
Playmaker(ing) — As the QB, using turbo and the right stick to control a WR downfield and make him change direction. The time to "playmaker" is when things have started to break down in a play and the QB wants to buy some time by scrambling, allowing his WR enough time to get open downfield.
Press Coverage — When press coverage is called, your defensive back will stand close to the WR and play physical at the snap. This will force the receiver to use his hands to get off the jam at the line and can throw off timing with the QB. The danger is that if the WR can get free, he will often get good separation from the defender. This is also known as bump-n-run coverage.
Quick Audible — Before the snap, you can quickly audible to another play if you read that the defense is weak against something. You can call a quick pass, deep pass, play-action pass, or run from any formation by using the right stick in a specific direction.
Quick Pass — A play with short precise routes that normally requires only a three-step drop by your QB; a quick pass can be thrown almost instantly in certain situations.
Red Zone — The area between your opponents’ 20-yard line and the end zone.
Right/Left Flat — see "Flat."
Route Combination — The grouping of specific route patterns by different WRs is used to create confusion in the secondary defenders and also to attack different coverage by allowing WRs to get open. Combinations are used to exploit weaknesses in defensive coverage schemes by attacking certain areas of the field with multiple WRs. Route combinations are also known as passing concepts. See also "Horizontal Passing Concepts" and "Vertical Passing Concepts."
Screen Pass — Screen passes are most often used when facing an aggressive defense. They look to hit the HB near the flat and try to get the offensive linemen out in front to block.
Shell — This refers to the number of deep defenders within a defensive play. If two players are deep it would be a Cover 2 shell, but if three players are deep it’s a Cover 3 shell.
Shotgun Snap — Any formation where the QB lines up 4–5 yards behind the center, who snaps the ball to the QB in the air. This increases chances for bad snaps and most commonly is used with formations that lean heavily towards the pass. The QB catches the snap and doesn’t have to backpedal, so he is all set up to throw.
Sitting on a Route — A user defender sitting on a route occupies an area of the field in anticipation of a particular route, waiting to attack that specific area.
Slide Protection — Before the snap, you can tell your linemen to slide left, right, or pinch into the middle. This will help them pick up blitzers if you sense them coming from a specific area.
Snap Throw — A quick pass thrown immediately after the snap.
Stacked Defenders — Stacking is when LBs align directly behind defensive linemen pre-snap to confuse blocking assignments or to free up a potential blitzer.
Stick Skills/Stick — One’s ability to user-control a player on defense or offense and manually provide coverage, tackle, read plays, or user-catch.
Strafe — On defense, strafing will square your hips to the line of scrimmage and give you better control of your player. You will not be able to move as fast when strafing.
Swat — Having your defender try to knock the ball down rather than go for the interception. He looks to knock away the pass, which gives him more range and can be safer than trying for an interception.
Tight Set/Formation — Tight sets bring your receivers into the middle of the field rather than out wide as in most formations. This will create a lot of action in the middle of the field and force the defense to bump into each other as they try to cram into a tight area. Shotgun Tight Flex is a tight set. "Snugs" formations are also tight.
Trips Set — These formations place three WRs onto one side of the field. This forces your opponents to shift their attention towards that side since there are more players on that side of the field. Trips sets are great for flooding zone coverages. Shotgun Trips is one example.
Truck — A ball carrier who tries to run over a defender when being tackled is a truck. Trucking is most common with power backs, especially near the goal line.
Trusting Your Reads — The process of being confident in the routes you have selected to run and waiting for them to get open (a.k.a. developing your progressions).
2 Man Under — In 2 Man Under, two deep safeties each play half of the deep zone. Cornerbacks play an inside trail technique; with this technique they allow the WRs to get upfield outside while they play off their inside hip. This is an effective coverage in Madden NFL 13 and can be called from different formations.
Under Center — Any formation where the QB lines up directly behind the center and takes a handoff directly from him. This is the opposite of a shotgun snap.
Underneath Zones — Short zones underneath the deep zones, such as buzz and hook zones.
Usering/User Control — When you actively control a player during a play. Whatever player you use on defense is who you are “usering.” The best players believe they can make more plays than if the computer was controlling the same player. See also "Stick Skills/Stick."
User Catch — The act of clicking onto a WR and holding the catch button to go after a pass.
Vertical Passing Concepts — This passing concept looks to stretch the field aggressively towards your opponent’s end zone. Most often the deep pass audible, by flicking the right stick right, will give you this style of play. The most common way to attack the defense is with “four verticals,” which looks to flood coverage deep by sending all four receivers deep downfield.
ZFarls Swoop — A manual juke move with the left stick that ZFarls popularized.
Zone Blitz — The art of bringing pressure from one area of the field while dropping defenders into another. This is a tactic used to confuse the offense.
Defensive Playmaker Adjustments
Blitz — You can make any selected player blitz by using this hot route command, a.k.a. a blitz straight down since the players’ rush angle will appear straight down on the screen.
Buzz Zone — The “curl to flat” zone defender will drop 8–10 yards deep and defend the curl; if there is no route threatening that area, he will move to the flat. A buzz zone is also known as a purple zone because of the zone color.
QB Contain — This hot route will make sure your defender watches the QB if he looks to run outside the pocket. It is a great way to stop scrambling QBs who try to run outside the defense.
Deep Zone — The dark blue zone defender will drop back and play deep assignments.
Hook Zone — The yellow zone defender will guard a 3- to 5-yard radius around wherever he is assigned. A hook zone is great for covering the middle of the field.
Flat Zone — The light blue zone defender will drop down and play the flat. A flat zone is great for guarding short-throwing offenses and players who like to dump off passes to the HB.
QB Spy or QB Spies — A QB spy tells your defender to watch the QB and attack him if he runs past the line of scrimmage. This is a great way to stop scrambling QBs. This route also helps stop short throws right over the middle.
Offensive Hot Routes
Block-and-Release — This blue route tells your back to help block before releasing to the flat.
Curl — The WR starts out on a straight pattern and turns around sharply after 8–10 yards.
Drag — A drag runs straight across the field after a 2-yard move forward.
Fade — This route starts the WR moving a few steps towards the sideline and then runs straight downfield.
Flat — A short route by the HB that runs to the flat and gives the QB a short option near the sideline.
Slant — This route starts like a streak for a few steps and then breaks sharply at an angle across the field.
Streak — This route runs straight downfield (a.k.a. a “go” or “9” route).
Wheel — This route starts like a flat route but cuts upfield on a streak once it reaches the sideline.
Zig — A zip appears to start like a slant route, but the receiver pivots and cuts back to the outside towards the sideline.
Smart Route — By pressing down on the right stick, you can tell your WR to run his route to the first down marker. This is great for third-and-long plays where the standard route won’t run far enough downfield.
Quarterback (QB) — The player who takes the snap from the lineman and either hands off, passes, or runs the ball.
Halfback (HB) — The player who usually lines up behind the QB and takes handoffs on run plays (a.k.a. RB — running back). On pass plays he can either run a route and become a receiver or stay in to help block.
Fullback (FB) — Lines up in front of the HB and looks to block players trying to tackle the HB. Can also catch and block on pass plays.
Wide Receiver (WR) — Receivers line up outside the linemen and look to get open downfield on pass plays. The QB looks to throw them the ball and they can run after they catch it.
Tight End (TE) — Most commonly lines up outside the linemen and can either block on run plays or go out on pass plays.
Slot Receiver — This receiver lines up outside the tackles and is a receiver but lines up inside the farthest WR. These players most often run routes over the middle of the field or look to use their speed to get deep.
Offensive Lineman (OL) — These players block for the QB and HB. The center is in the middle and snaps the ball to the QB on every play.
Defensive End (DE) — The defensive end matches up against the other team’s lineman on the outside and is most known for trying to sack the QB on passing plays. You have two DEs on the field in most situations (3-4 and 4-3 defenses).
Defensive Tackle (DT) — The DT plays in the middle of the defensive line usually closest to the center. He is mostly known for plugging up the middle and is usually one of the biggest players on the team (there’s one DT in a 3-4, two in a 4-3 defense).
Outside Linebacker (OLB) — These LBs line up outside and can cover receivers or blitz on pass plays. They must tackle anything that gets past the line on a run play. You have two OLBs on the field in a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense.
Middle Linebacker (MLB) — This player controls the middle of the field for the defense. He stands behind the defensive tackle and must tackle everything that comes through the middle. You have two MLBs in 3-4 and one in a 4-3 defense.
Cornerback (CB) — These players play outside and must cover the WRs on passing plays.
Free Safety (FS) — This player backs up the cornerbacks and helps give them support in the passing game.
Strong Safety (SS) — This player helps in the passing game but can also be brought towards the line of scrimmage to help in the run game as well.