Having trouble scoring the touchdowns you need to secure victory? Tired of watching your opponents destroy your defense? There’s no getting around it: Madden NFL has a monstrous learning curve. It can leave new players flailing around like Christian Ponder as they are picked off again and again, overwhelmed by the choices at their disposal. So what are the best ways to help you win?
Learn to Recognize Man Coverage vs. Zone Coverage: Man coverage puts one cornerback on one receiver, while zone coverage has defensive backs (and sometimes members of the front seven) guarding a certain portion of the field. Learning to recognize them before the snap is crucial to succeeding on offense in Madden NFL. A handy way to tell if a team is in zone coverage is to check your matchup indicator (accessed by holding L2/LT). If you don’t see a matchup, then the opposing defense is either showing zone or a house blitz. Either way, adjust accordingly.
There are a few tells, such as cornerbacks lining up off the receiver (zone), but smart defenses will disguise their coverage as much as possible. Thus, it’s usually best to put one player on the outside in a streak and watch them. If they zoom past the corner, then you can probably hit them for an easy completion on the sideline. If the corner bumps and follows them, then it’s best to look for your next option, usually an out route or another man coverage killer.
Watch the Safeties: Safety play is a great indication of what the defense is trying to do. If there’s only one safety up top, then they may be trying to blitz. Conversely, if they have two safeties over the top, you’re better off looking for short and middle routes. More advanced players will take manual control of their safety and try to double cover your receivers. If that happens, then that’s your cue to throw deep to your receivers along the sideline.
Get Good at Scrambling Out of the Pocket: Though they likely won’t be as powerful in Madden 15 as they were in Madden 25, mobile quarterbacks are still the bane of any defense’s existence. If your receivers are well-covered, it’s not always a good idea to throw the ball. Instead, learn roll out of the pocket and scramble for a handful of yards. Such moves can often be the difference between a pick or sack and a first down.
Don’t Lay on the Sprint Button: Refrain from holding the sprint button (R2/RT). In addition to costing you maneuverability, it rapidly tires out your play. Instead, use it in quick bursts to get around corners and break through holes in the offensive line. Once you’re in the open, that’s your cue to hit the gas and make for the endzone.
Run Out of Passing Formations, Pass Out of Running Formations: Misdirection is key in Madden NFL, especially when going up against other human players. Keep them honest with play action throws out of the I-Formation and draws out of four receiver sets.
Pick Formations That Stack One Side of the Field: Defenses hate it when the offense stacks one side of the field, since it usually puts a receiver right in the seam between the slot and the offensive line, which can be hard to stop. It also helps to expose whether they’re running zone coverage or man coverage, forcing the player on defense to adjust. Finally, if they hedge too far to one side of the field, it makes it that much easier to run a quick draw and bounce to the outside with only the safety to beat. Trips TE is a particularly good formation for this.
Look for Routes with Quick Cuts: Beating man coverage usually involves throwing a pass right out of a cut. Look for angle routes, Stick and Nod routes, corner routes, or pretty much anything with a quick cut that will allow for a receiver to shake a corner. It won’t always work, but it will at least give your receiver a fighting chance against tight coverage.
Exploit Mismatches: Put your slot receiver in motion and see who follows them. Try to put the defense in a position where they are covering your speedy receivers with slower linebackers. The new matchup indicator (accessed by holding LT/L2) is a great way to tell if your receiver has the advantage of a corner. If they do, you can put them in a slant and abuse them all day long.
Go Through Your Progressions: Inexperienced players commonly make the mistake of locking in on one receiver because a particular pass play works for them. As in real life, always have at least three options at your disposal. Learn to smoothly go through your progressions and get the ball to the open player. One trick is to have one player on a corner route, another on a deep in route or out route, and the last on a drag route. That way there should always be at least one player open.
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