Madden NFL 06 Walkthrough

The perennial favorite returns in Madden NFL 06. If you're struggling to master the vision cones, truck sticks, or any of the other new additions to the game, then check out GameSpot's Walkthrough for all the tips you need to win.

By Doug Radcliffe
Design by Randall Montanari

It’s the year of the quarterback! Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb is the Madden 06 cover man and the game’s most important new feature adds a challenging element to the passing game. This game guide offers team and player breakdowns and stats, strategies for offense (with focus on the new quarterback vision control) and defense, and tips for NFL superstar mode.

This Gamespot Madden 06 game guide includes:

  • Team Stats: Statistical breakdown of the current and historical NFL teams.
  • Team Overviews: This section offers tips on all 32 NFL teams and provides stats for each team’s key players.
  • NFL Superstar: Check here for tips on the new NFL Superstar mode.
  • Offense: Strategies for the passing and running game, including tips on the new quarterback vision control.
  • Defense: Tips on defensive formations, adjustments, shifts, and stopping the run and the pass.
  • Online Strategies: Provides strategies specific to online play.

Chapter 1 - Team Stats

This section reveals the primary statistics revealed on the team selection screen. You’ll also find statistics for the historical teams available in Madden 06. These statistics include a relative overall, offense, and defense rating.

Current NFL Teams

The following table reveals the team statistics for the current 2005 National Football League teams.

TEAMCONFERENCE AND DIVISIONRECORDOVERALLOFFENSEDEFENSE
Arizona CardinalsNFC West6-10767879
Atlanta FalconsNFC South11-5858082
Baltimore RavensAFC North9-7886890
Buffalo BillsAFC East9-7787794
Carolina PanthersNFC South7-9858787
Chicago BearsNFC North5-11736676
Cincinnati BengalsAFC North8-8858476
Cleveland BrownsAFC North4-12686870
Dallas CowboysNFC East6-10737879
Denver BroncosAFC West10-6749080
Detroit LionsNFC North6-10788074
Green Bay PackersNFC North10-6809470
Houston TexansAFC South7-9838179
Indianapolis ColtsAFC South12-4909969
Jacksonville JaguarsAFC South9-7847985
Kansas City ChiefsAFC West7-9859771
Miami DolphinsAFC East4-12706779
Minnesota VikingsNFC North8-8909280
New England PatriotsAFC East14-2979396
New Orleans SaintsNFC South8-8728365
New York GiantsNFC East6-10727478
New York JetsAFC East10-6818686
Oakland RaidersAFC West5-11818867
Philadelphia EaglesNFC East13-3969193
Pittsburgh SteelersAFC North15-1918995
San Diego ChargersAFC West12-4868877
San Francisco 49ersNFC West2-14677169
Seattle SeahawksNFC West9-7868976
St. Louis RamsNFC West8-8829073
Tampa Bay BuccaneersNFC South5-11757688
Tennessee TitansAFC South5-11698068
Washington RedskinsNFC East6-10776987

Historic Teams

This table reveals relative statistics for the historical teams offered in Madden 06.

TEAMRECORDOVERALLOFFENSEDEFENSE
All Chicago BearsN/A959297
88 Chicago Bears12-4929293
85 Chicago Bears15-1959595
77 Chicago Bears9-5908891
63 Chicago Bears11-1-2909089
All Cincinnati BengalsN/A949592
88 Cincinnati Bengals12-4919388
81 Cincinnati Bengals12-4929391
73 Cincinnati Bengals10-4919093
All Buffalo BillsN/A959594
93 Buffalo Bills12-4949494
92 Buffalo Bills11-5949592
91 Buffalo Bills13-3939492
90 Buffalo Bills13-3939393
All Denver BroncosN/A949692
98 Denver Broncos14-2949493
97 Denver Broncos12-4949593
96 Denver Broncos13-3949593
91 Denver Broncos12-4929193
89 Denver Broncos11-5929194
87 Denver Broncos10-4-1929391
96 Denver Broncos11-5919291
77 Denver Broncos12-2929094
All Cleveland BrownsN/A929292
87 Cleveland Browns10-5919092
86 Cleveland Browns12-4929391
70 Cleveland Browns7-7959696
65 Cleveland Browns11-3919289
All Tampa Bay BuccaneersN/A919092
02 Tampa Bay Buccaneers12-4868390
79 Tampa Bay Buccaneers10-6918893
All Arizona CardinalsN/A919290
75 Arizona Cardinals11-3899286
All San Diego ChargersN/A949594
94 San Diego Chargers11-5919092
81 San Diego Chargers10-6919389
All Kansas City ChiefsN/A929489
90 Kansas City Chiefs10-6949395
71 Kansas City Chiefs10-3-1969597
69 Kansas City Chiefs11-3939392
66 Kansas City Chiefs11-2-1919091
62 Kansas City Texans11-3898791
All Indianapolis ColtsN/A959694
77 Baltimore Colts10-4939194
70 Baltimore Colts11-2-1929192
68 Baltimore Colts13-1929389
58 Baltimore Colts9-3888690
All Dallas CowboysN/A959794
95 Dallas Cowboys12-4959494
94 Dallas Cowboys12-4939492
93 Dallas Cowboys12-4949592
92 Dallas Cowboys13-3949493
85 Dallas Cowboys10-6929191
81 Dallas Cowboys12-4939491
79 Dallas Cowboys11-5959694
78 Dallas Cowboys12-4939492
77 Dallas Cowboys12-2939492
75 Dallas Cowboys10-4929390
71 Dallas Cowboys11-3929589
70 Dallas Cowboys10-4919290
67 Dallas Cowboys9-5888592
66 Dallas Cowboys10-3-1878293
All Miami DolphinsN/A949593
85 Miami Dolphins12-4929392
84 Miami Dolphins14-2949492
82 Miami Dolphins7-2919290
81 Miami Dolphins11-4-1939293
78 Miami Dolphins11-5928895
74 Miami Dolphins11-3919191
73 Miami Dolphins12-2929292
72 Miami Dolphins14-0939393
71 Miami Dolphins10-3-1939394
All Philadelphia EaglesN/A939392
90 Philadelphia Eagles10-6919091
80 Philadelphia Eagles12-4949494
60 Philadelphia Eagles10-2919291
All Atlanta FalconsN/A939592
98 Atlanta Falcons14-2929192
91 Atlanta Falcons10-6919290
80 Atlanta Falcons12-4929391
All San Francisco 49ersN/A939691
98 San Francisco 49ers12-4959695
94 San Francisco 49ers13-3949593
92 San Francisco 49ers14-2939393
90 San Francisco 49ers14-2949493
89 San Francisco 49ers14-2959693
88 San Francisco 49ers10-6959694
84 San Francisco 49ers15-1939393
81 San Francisco 49ers13-3939294
57 San Francisco 49ers8-4898891
All New York GiantsN/A929293
90 New York Giants13-3939194
86 New York Giants14-2949295
58 New York Giants9-3898691
All Jacksonville JaguarsN/A899286
96 Jacksonville Jaguars9-7899185
All New York JetsN/A939591
85 New York Jets11-5939392
82 New York Jets6-3929292
68 New York Jets11-3909287
All Detroit LionsN/A929291
91 Detroit Lions12-4929291
80 Detroit Lions9-7919390
57 Detroit Lions8-4888690
All Green Bay PackersN/A979897
98 Green Bay Packers11-5959594
97 Green Bay Packers13-3939493
96 Green Bay Packers13-3949594
92 Green Bay Packers9-7949494
67 Green Bay Packers9-4-1899087
66 Green Bay Packers12-2909287
All Carolina PanthersN/A909089
96 Carolina Panthers12-4888987
All New England PatriotsN/A939492
01 New England Patriots11-5888788
96 New England Patriots11-5939493
85 New England Patriots11-4949493
76 New England Patriots11-3939492
All Oakland RaidersN/A949592
02 Oakland Raiders11-5858882
90 Los Angeles Raiders12-4929292
85 Los Angeles Raiders12-4929193
83 Los Angeles Raiders12-4939491
80 Oakland Raiders11-5939393
77 Oakland Raiders11-3929391
76 Oakland Raiders13-1929491
75 Oakland Raiders11-3939492
74 Oakland Raiders12-2979697
72 Oakland Raiders10-3-1929391
71 Oakland Raiders8-4-2888690
70 Oakland Raiders8-4-2909288
69 Oakland Raiders12-1-1909389
68 Oakland Raiders12-2909388
67 Oakland Raiders13-1909289
All St. Louis RamsN/A959694
01 St. Louis Rams14-2869281
99 St. Louis Rams13-3899484
84 Los Angeles Rams10-6929292
79 Los Angeles Rams9-7919092
75 Los Angeles Rams12-2939294
67 Los Angeles Rams11-1-2928896
All Baltimore RavensN/A929193
00 Baltimore Ravens12-4857991
All Washington RedskinsN/A959693
91 Washington Redskins14-2949494
87 Washington Redskins11-4949594
83 Washington Redskins14-2959693
82 Washington Redskins8-1949593
79 Washington Redskins10-6918894
72 Washington Redskins11-3929391
All New Orleans SaintsN/A929490
92 New Orleans Saints12-4918992
87 New Orleans Saints12-3909189
All Seattle SeahawksN/A939492
84 Seattle Seahawks12-4929291
All Pittsburgh SteelersN/A969695
95 Pittsburgh Steelers11-5939392
79 Pittsburgh Steelers12-4949493
78 Pittsburgh Steelers14-2939393
75 Pittsburgh Steelers12-2949395
74 Pittsburgh Steelers10-3-1949593
72 Pittsburgh Steelers11-3939292
All Tennessee TitansN/A939690
99 Tennessee Titans13-3939393
92 Houston Oilers10-6959495
88 Houston Oilers10-6939392
80 Houston Oilers11-5939292
78 Houston Oilers10-6939392
62 Houston Oilers11-3888989
All Minnesota VikingsN/A949592
98 Minnesota Vikings15-1959596
76 Minnesota Vikings11-2-1929391
75 Minnesota Vikings12-2979598
74 Minnesota Vikings10-4929391
73 Minnesota Vikings12-2929391
70 Minnesota Vikings12-2939294
69 Minnesota Vikings12-2949494

Chapter 2 - Team Overviews

This chapter provides in-depth analysis on your favorite National Football League teams. You’ll find key player stats and commentary on the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Note that these rosters and statistics are current as of the updated online rosters as of 8/10.

  • OVR - The overall rating for the player.
  • SPD - How fast the player can run.
  • STR - The player’s strength, which affects his ability to break tackles or make blocks.
  • AWR - A player’s ability to react and adjust. Affects a player’s ability to run routes for instance.
  • AGI - The player’s agility, enhancing his ability to switch directions--important statistic for special maneuvers.
  • ACC - How fast a player reaches full speed. Great for sprinting through open holes in your line or outrunning tacklers around a corner.
  • CTH - How well the player can catch. A higher rating means fewer drops.
  • CAR - How well the player holds onto the football. A higher rating means the less chance of a fumble.
  • JMP - The player’s ability to jump, such as for grabbing high passes or blocking high passes.
  • BTK - The player’s ability to break tackles.
  • THP - How far a player can throw the ball.
  • THA - How accurate a player throws.
  • PBK - How well a player pass blocks.
  • RBK - How well a player run blocks.
  • TAK - A player’s ability to tackle.
  • INJ - The likelihood of an injury. The higher the rating, the less likely a player will get injured.

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals didn’t make the expected strides during the 2004 season. Quarterback Josh McCown couldn’t develop a consistent rhythm. The season started shaky with Marcel Shipp and Anquan Boldin out significant time due to injury. Veteran running back Emmitt Smith, now retired, showed his Hall of Fame form in several games but certainly wasn’t the back he once was.

The expectation to improve is once again extremely high. The Cardinals even boast new and improved uniforms (with a meaner looking logo!) to kick off the season. Veteran and former league MVP Kurt Warner was added to provide leadership at the quarterback position. He boasts high awareness and a wide field of vision, despite lackluster performances over the past few seasons. He’s practically made of glass, however; Kurt’s injury rating of 49 means Josh McCown will likely see some action. Also, don’t expect much scrambling ability; Kurt is one of the slowest quarterbacks at a speed rating of just 44.

J.J. Arrington is an exciting new rookie at running back and should compete against the returning Marcel Shipp for ball carrying duties. J.J. boasts the speed while Marcel features more power. The Cardinals’ top two receivers are excellent, though young (lowering awareness). Focus on a high-percentage passing game. Warner lacks the throwing power for consistent deep balls and the Cardinals’ primary receivers aren’t fast enough to expose an opponent’s top corners.

Arizona Cardinals Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Kurt WarnerQB83899090443149

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
J.J. ArringtonRB77929489677573

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Anquan BoldinWR88889190909082

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Larry FitzgeraldWR87889089899478

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons were one win away from a Super Bowl appearance, even with Michael Vick’s well-published struggles adjusting to the West Coast offense. The team returns basically intact for another run at a championship. Michael Vick is still dangerous with his legs (94 speed, more than many running backs) but not as much with his arm. In Madden 06, Vick’s awareness is just 78, one of the lowest among starting quarterbacks--Vick’s field of vision is extremely limited.

Michael Vick is the fastest quarterback in the game but he also has one of the smallest vision cones.

The Falcons’ utilize an excellent one-two punch backfield. Warrick Dunn is the speedster and T.J. Duckett is the bruiser. Use Dunn out of the backfield on screens to help open up routes for the Falcons’ weak group of wide receivers--Dunn is arguably the best receiving running back in the game. Switch to T.J. Duckett for short-yardage and goal line situations and work the truck stick to capitalize on his 93 break tackle rating.

Alge Crumpler is one of the best tight ends in the game and should be a major focus on your offensive gameplan. Mix up your running plays between speed and power, call high-percentage pass plays with Dunn out of the backfield and Crumpler on hooks, outs, and ins, quarterback scrambles for Vick’s speed, and the occasional deep ball (Vick boasts 97 throw power) to help stretch the defense and open up more shorter pass plays for Dunn and Crumpler.

Atlanta Falcons Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Michael VickQB92978078944076

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Warrick DunnRB89959696797188

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
T.J. DuckettRB85868982609388

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Alge CrumplerTE93865459856570

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Patrick KerneyLE95758074888389

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Keith BrookingROLB94808779925589

Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens remain focused on defense and a power running game. Jamal Lewis is one of the best backs in the game; combine the new truck stick with his leading 99 break tackle rating and run over would-be tacklers. Run behind left tackle Jonathan Ogden, the best offensive linemen in the game. Lewis has the power to run inside and the speed to run outside. Mix up the play calls.

Establish a strong running game to take the pressure off Kyle Boller, the Ravens’ young inexperienced quarterback--one of the lowest rated starters in the game. Kyle’s 74 awareness rating provides a very small field of vision. The Ravens’ added all-pro wide receiver Derrick Mason to give Kyle another downfield target. Focus the passing game between Mason and Todd Heap, the Ravens’ highly ranked tight end.

Defense is still the Ravens’ strong suit. The trio of Ray Lewis, Chris McAllister, and Ed Reed are basically the highest rated at their position. McAllister is rated high enough to cover anyone in man-to-man single coverage allowing you to maintain aggressive defensive playcalling. Keep Ray Lewis in coverage and blitz outside linebackers or defensive backs to pressure the offense into sacks or bad throws--the perfect opportunity for Ed Reed’s 83 catch rating to snag interceptions.

Baltimore Ravens Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Kyle BollerQB80927974694788

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Jamal LewisRB94899588689984

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Derrick MasonWR92919494958495

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Todd HeapTE94795560886572

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Jonathan OgdenLT99989499905795

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Ray LewisMLB99859186995599

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Chris McAlisterCB97959897686894

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Ed ReedSS99939391708395

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills begin the year with a few new faces on offense, at least from the beginning of the previous season. Veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe has moved on to lead the Dallas Cowboys and Travis Henry, the Bills’ starting running back at the start of last season was traded to the Tennessee Titans. Explosive running back Willis McGahee started most games last season and is now the undisputed feature back.

Willis McGahee has emerged as one of the better running backs in the league.

The future is now as the Bills have handed over the quarterback job to young J.P. Losman. His inexperience shows in his ratings--his 67 awareness is the lowest amongst the game’s starters. Backup quarterbacks Kelly Holcomb and Shane Matthews offer slightly better awareness but similar overall statistics. Losman does have a speed advantage allowing for rollouts and scrambles. Moulds is one of the best receivers in the game. Stretch the field with the Bills’ secondary receiver, Lee Evans (96 speed rating).

The Bills’ defense is one of the strongest in the league with high ratings at nearly every position. The Bills strong secondary provides a lot of coaching options. Pressure the quarterback with blitzes or remain in coverage and force your opponent into poor decisions. Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher lead the formidable linebackers and Nate Clements and Lawyer Milloy command the secondary.

Buffalo Bills Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
J.P. LosmanQB79928267704878

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Willis McGaheeRB91929591689287

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Eric MouldsWR90939490879190

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Takeo SpikesROLB97828583935193

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Nate ClementsCB95929496717688

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Lawyer MilloySS96858872886493

Carolina Panthers

What a difference a year makes! Two seasons ago, the Carolina Panthers were an Adam Vinateri field goal away from possibly winning a Super Bowl then last year the injury bug decimated the team. Steve Smith was lost for the season during the first game and Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster both missed time. The Panthers certainly hope to avoid a repeat and instead return to their Super Bowl form of two seasons ago.

Despite the loss of Mushin Muhammad to the Bears, the Panthers have a strong group of receivers. Steve Smith is back and one of the fastest in the game. The Panthers also added Rod Gardner (slower, more possession receiver) and retain second year player Keary Colbert and veteran Ricky Proehl. Jake Delhomme is a solid, though not exceptional (at least statistics wise) quarterback.

A trio of strong running backs--all saw playing time last year--provides a durable running game. Stephen Davis and Nick Goings offer the power and DeShaun Foster provides the speed. The line anchors the defense; Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins are some of the best in the game.

Carolina Panthers Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Jake DelhommeQB88898986655685

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Stephen DavisRB85848880649088

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
DeShaun FosterRB84909190708474

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Steve SmithWR89969695898580

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Julius PeppersLE97869389787975

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Kris JenkinsDT97668767909380

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are a young team. Rex Grossman has yet to complete a season; his only two have ended in injuries. At the time of this writing, Rex was injured again, this time in the preseason (breaking his ankle and out for three to four months). Rex’s awareness is one of the lowest in the league providing a tight field of vision.

And the Bears drafted highly touted running back Cedric Benson to backup (or share carries with) starter Thomas Jones. Both offer nearly identical statistics, though Thomas Jones’ veteran status provides a much higher awareness rating.

The Bears added all-pro receiver Mushin Muhammad from the Carolina Panthers. He leads a weak receiving group; he’s by far the primary target so expect opponents to double him and leave the weaker receivers in single coverage. Look for Jones or Benson out of the backfield as well as Desmond Clark, the Bears’ tight end. On running plays, run behind center Olin Kreutz, one of the best in the game, and the left side of the offensive line.

Chicago Bears Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Rex GrossmanQB82908876594274

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Thomas JonesRB85899388708384

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Cedric BensonRB83889087658685

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Mushin MuhammadWR91908789948694

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Olin KreutzC98919492886090

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Brian UrlacherMLB95879288936287

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals finished last year’s campaign at 8-8...the second year in a row without a losing record or a winning record for that matter! But the team continues to improve. Carson Palmer struggled early last season but his second half performance showed why he was the team’s first round pick a couple seasons ago. Carson’s low awareness limits his field of vision. Jon Kitna is more than a capable backup and his veteran status grants higher field of vision (though lacks the throw power of Carson).

Powerful running back Rudi Johnson and star receiver Chad Johnson are your primary targets on offense. Establish the power run (behind highly rated right tackle Willie Anderson) and utilize play action to hit Chad Johnson, one of the best in the game.

Cincinnati Bengals Key Players

Chad Johnson is Carson Palmer’s primary target in the passing game. He’s one of the best receivers in the game.

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Carson PalmerQB84958677583988

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Rudi JohnsonRB90889285679491

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Chad JohnsonWR95949595949388

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Willie AndersonRT94979098624796

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns remain in rebuilding mode. Signing former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia didn’t work out--he’s now with the Detroit Lions--and former starter Kelly Holcomb now plays for the Buffalo Bills. The Browns brought up a Super Bowl winner, former Buccaneer, Raven, and Seahawk Trent Dilfer. He stats are fairly meager (he’s slow and prone to injury) but his veteran status provides high awareness and decent field of vision.

The Browns offer two capable running backs (Reuben Droughns came from Denver) and can be used in dual HB sets or interchanged through substitutions. Suggs offers more speed while Droughns features more power. Rookie Braylon Edwards leads the receivers; it’s a relatively fast group and Andre Davis should be used to stretch defenses deep.

Cleveland Browns Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Trent DilferQB83898788475560

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Reuben DroughnsRB86869086688782

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Lee SuggsRB82919388628080

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Braylon EdwardsWR84919291869568

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Andra DavisMLB90778476936686

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys added veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe to lead the offense. He offers excellent throw power, awareness, and field of vision but is one of the slowest quarterbacks in the game--even Cowboys’ left guard Larry Allen is faster than Bledsoe! Don’t expect much scrambling or rollout ability; Bledsoe is a pocket passer. Julius Jones is an excellent up-and-coming running back; decent speed, agility, and acceleration and a threat in the passing game.

Drew Bledsoe is slower than many linemen but his experience provides a strong passing cone.

Jason Witten, a highly ranked tight end, is a primary passing target alongside outspoken wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. The Cowboys’ defense is solid, but not exceptional like the Bills or Ravens. Roy Williams is one of the best safeties in the game and a strong defensive line helps keep the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Dallas Cowboys Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Drew BledsoeQB84958588453965

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Julius JonesRB86919392708481

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Keyshawn JonhsonWR87868586928790

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Jason WittenTE92815361856969

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Larry AllenLG94988695674296

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Marco RiveraRG95939394754694

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
La’Roi GloverDT96647664918795

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Roy WilliamsFS96859280906885

Denver Broncos

A new running back starts for the Denver Broncos for the third year in a row. How does Mike Shananan do it? Tatum Bell is an extremely fast running back; run Tatum outside to capitalize on his acceleration and speed. A low break tackle speed limits his ability inside. Switch to Mike Anderson for inside runs and move behind highly rated center Tom Nalen. Third stringer Quentin Griffith is also a capable runner!

Rod Smith leads a solid group of receivers that includes the all-time greatest, Jerry Rice. He isn’t quite his former 49er self but his high awareness makes him valuable on option routes--Jerry can get open! Jake Plummer excels in high-percentage, rollout passes. His throwing power and accuracy are both rather low compared to more skilled starters. Also Jake’s awareness is on the lower end of the starting quarterbacks.

Champ Bailey, the former Redskin, is the best cornerback in the game. Keep him in one-on-one coverage on your opponent’s best receiver. This can free up other defenders for blitzing or double teams.

Denver Broncos Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Jake PlummerQB87898683704792

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Tatum BellRB84969792667775

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Rod SmithWR89908887928296

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Jerry RiceWR83848083927599

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Tom NalenC95878794805596

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Al WilsonMLB96878983946090

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Champ BaileyCB98989892657792

Detroit Lions

This could be Joey Harrington’s last chance to prove he belongs in the NFL as a starting quarterback. The Detroit Lions have an enormous amount of young talent. Running back Kevin Jones exploded during the second half of last season. His ratings provide a solid balance of speed and power. Roy Williams is developing into a stellar receiver alongside Charles Rodgers (can he last a season without injury) and rookie Mike Williams.

Joey Harrington’s awareness is one of the worst among starters; his field of vision is quite low. Establish a strong running game and mix up a short passing game with the deep ball to both Williams. Jeff Garcia was brought from Cleveland as a potential replacement for Harrington; he offers better awareness (and field of vision) but his throwing power is low and he’s extremely susceptible to injury.

Detroit Lions Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Joey HarringtonQB82918577603788

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Jeff GarciaQB81818783654935

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Kevin JonesRB87939493678479

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Roy WilliamsWR87939192899474

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Shaun RogersDT95637463929581

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Dre' BlyCB90939689498284

Green Bay Packers

Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre returns for another run at a championship. Offensively the Green Bay Packers are strong. Ahman Green remains one of the best backs in the NFL; he boasts high speed, break tackle, and catch rating. He’s a huge weapon as a receiver.

Brett Favre is one of the best quarterbacks in the game and offers a wide field of vision.

Javon Walker emerged last year as one of the league’s premiere wide outs. Stretch defenses utilizing Walker’s speed. Favre is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. His awareness provides a huge field of vision and he’s built like a rock--a 99 injury rating.

The defense lacks playmakers, however. You’ll likely have to excel in shootouts to win consistently--and the gunslinger Favre certainly fits that bill. Spread the ball around with liberal use of the screen play, flat passes, the tight end, and the deep ball. Establish a running game in the full house formation then use play action passing to catch defenses out of position.

Green Bay Packers Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Brett FavreQB93978897536299

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Ahman GreenRB92969690778875

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Javon WalkerWR91929393909385

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Chad CliftonLT93959691755089

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Kabeer Gbaja-BiamillaRE91839279757575

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans continue to show improvement since their expansion inception but it’s nearing the point where the team should begin to emerge as a serious playoff contender. On offense, the pieces are falling into place. David Carr has matured and has a strong arm for the deep pass. His inexperience keeps his awareness down, which limits his field of vision.

Dominick Davis is the team’s featured back; he strikes a balance between speed and power and should also be utilized in the passing game. Wide receiver Andre Johnson boasts high speed and jump ability; he can exploit single-coverage and smaller corners.

Defensively the Houston Texans lie in the middle of the pack. Position by position, the defense is good but not great. Young Dunta Robinson is one of the stronger position players, but lacks the experience to blanket an opposing offense’s primary receiver.

Houston Texans Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
David CarrQB87958583653695

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Dominick DavisRB88919392778485

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Andre JohnsonWR91959592889481

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Dunta Robinson CB 88 96 97 85 66 72 76

Indianapolis Colts

There is no doubt: the Indianapolis Colts are the best offense in football. That couldn’t be more of an understatement. Peyton Manning broke the NFL record for passing touchdowns in a season and three receivers caught 10 or more touchdowns. Yet the Colts couldn’t complete the dream season and were beaten, once again, by the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots.

No quarterback in the game has the awareness of Peyton Manning. His vision lights virtually up the entire field.

The team is completely stacked: Edgerrin James is a fast, powerful running (92 speed and 93 break tackle) and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are one of the best duos in the league.

But it’s all about Peyton--rated 99 in important passing categories, including his overall rating. Peyton’s 99 awareness rating essentially gives Peyton the "entire" field of vision. The field illuminates like a light bulb. He’s extremely accurate and durable against injury. He’s the best pocket passer in the game (though you could certainly make an argument for New England’s Tom Brady). The Colts’ weakness is defense but the explosive offense means no lead is ever insurmountable.

Indianapolis Colts Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Peyton ManningQB99959999576198

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Edgerrin JamesRB96929491789391

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Marvin HarrisonWR98969897998799

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Reggie WayneWR90889291948690

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Tarik GlennLT94969794704790

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Dwight FreeneyRE98879787787680

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars were on the cusp of a playoff birth last season and hope to improve on that success. But the team will have to improve on offense; last year’s squad scored less than 17 points a game and the team hasn’t eclipsed 30 points in a game in a number of years. The weapons are there on offense; expect the Jags to open up the passing game to put more points on the scoreboard and take pressure off the defense.

Byron Leftwich boasts a powerful arm but his inexperience shows in his low awareness rating and small field of vision. He’s also one of the slowest quarterbacks in the league; don’t expect to scramble or use rollouts effectively. Fred Taylor features an excellent balance of speed and power and Jimmy Smith is one of the best veteran receivers in the league.

Defensive strength lies inside; Stroud and Henderson are dominant tackles and can stuff the inside run. Protect the outside run with linebacker blitzes and movement and allow Stroud and Henderson to protect the gut.

Jacksonville Jaguars Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Byron LeftwichQB86978882484784

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Fred TaylorRB90929490678887

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Jimmy SmithWR90888989948596

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Marcus StroudDT96648066909482

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
John HendersonDT92627164909578

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Mike PetersonMLB92858887926588

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chief’s regressed last season. The Chief’s porous defense finally caught up with them--scoring over 31 points wasn’t always enough to guarantee a win. The Chief’s still have one of the strongest offenses in the league. Trent Green is a top QB; only a few quarterbacks boast higher awareness and a wider field of vision. Trent is extremely accurate but doesn’t have the strongest arm. Focus on high-percentage, short-to-medium passing game using Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez.

Priest Holmes remains one of the best running backs in the game--excellent speed, acceleration, catch, and break tackle abilities and plus he rarely fumbles. A strong offensive line lead by Willie Roaf and Will Shields should open ample holes. Tony Gonzalez is essentially the Chief’s primary downfield receiver, though Eddie Kennison has shown improvement and Dante Hall, primarily a kick return specialize, has explosive speed and should be used to test defenses deep.

The Chiefs have a lot of weapons on offense, including Tony Gonzalez, the best tight end in the game.

Kansas City Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Trent GreenQB91889495524383

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Priest HolmesRB95929592798596

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Tony RichardsonFB97775268727878

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Tony GonzalezTE98865257917076

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWRKR
Dante HallWR/KR8097999974707299

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Willie RoafLT95969296834695

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Will ShieldsRG98929593855095

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Patrick SurtainCB94939390647993

Miami Dolphins

The 2005 season sees the return of Ricky Williams, who announced his retirement last year to essentially avoid suspension. Ricky’s ratings reflect a year off: speed is down but his break tackle rating is one of the best in the league. The Dolphins drafted Auburn standout Ronnie Brown; the rookie’s stats are solid and he’s worth working into the ground game mix often.

The Dolphins are extremely weak at quarterback--the roster certainly includes no Dan Marino. Both A.J. Feely and Gus Frerotte feature similar meager ratings. Gus provides slightly better awareness but the two are almost interchangeable. Chris Chambers is a fast primary receiver with excellent jump ability to abuse single coverage. Also, Randy McMichael is one of the best tight ends available. On defense Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas are the standouts.

Miami Dolphins Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
A.J. FeeleyQB78878476544087

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Gus FrerotteQB78878581523969

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Ricky WilliamsRB87899284708975

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Ronnie BrownRB84939288758282

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Chris ChambersWR88949391869780

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Randy McMichaelTE90825557827573

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Jason TaylorRE95818878827490

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Zach ThomasMLB96738074974598

Minnesota Vikings

The biggest offseason move saw controversial Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss shipped to the Oakland Raiders. The distractions are gone but with them arguably the best wide receiver in the league. Nate Burleson and Marcus Robinson, both capable but not explosive, receivers will have to cover the slack.

The Vikings feature two similarly rated running backs: Bennett is the speedster while Williams is the power back. Use Williams in goal line and short yardage situations.

Daunte Culpepper is one of the best quarterbacks in the league as well as in Madden 06. Awesome throw power, great accuracy, high awareness and field of vision, and excellent speed for scrambles and roll outs. He’s basically the total package and can be a threat on the ground as well as through the air. On defense, the Vikings added all-pro free safety Darren Sharper, formerly of the division rival Packers. The Vikings defense is much improved.

Daunte Culpepper is an awesome blend of power, speed, and awareness.

Minnesota Vikings Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Daunte CulpepperQB98989087804087

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Michael BennettRB82979788647278

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Moe WilliamsRB82858680658585

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Nate BurlesonWR86919291898881

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Matt BirkC96919390855595

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Kevin WilliamsDT94708867877079

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Darren SharperFS95868986747590

New England Patriots

The Patriots are a dynasty...and they kept getting better! Tom Brady may end up being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He’s this era’s Joe Montana. Not especially flashy, not the strongest arm, but he has the winning edge. He’s clutch and one of the smartest in the game. In Madden 06, his awareness is second only to Peyton Manning. The entire field is his vision. And it may not be the strongest arm, but 92 throw power will get the job done.

Tom Brady is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the game--thus his huge vision cone.

The addition of Corey Dillon last season added another dimension to the team. He had a great season and is one of the best rated running backs in Madden: especially his 92 catch rating and 93 break tackle rating. Deion Branch has emerged as the primary receiver. He’s the team’s downfield threat with 94 speed and 96 acceleration.

The Patriots’ defense is led by veterans at each rank, including Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest, and Rodney Harrison: each one of the best at their positions. Finally, kicker Adam Vinatieri is a sure thing.

New England Patriots Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Tom BradyQB97929698585196

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Corey DillonRB93909488929392

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Deion BranchWR88949695888484

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Richard SeymourRE97708571889088

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Willie McGinestLOLB93778478925096

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Rodney HarrisonSS97829070936195

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRKPWKACAWR
Adam VinatieriK99949494

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints can’t seem to get over the hump of mediocrity. It seems every season the team ends just out of the playoffs with another near .500 record. The Saints hope to lean more on star running back Deuce McAllister. Establish a strong inside and outside running game (Deuce boasts speed and power) to open up the passing lanes for Aaron Brooks, a mobile quarterback but one that lacks the awareness of more skilled signal callers. His lower awareness provides a narrow field of vision.

Joe Horn’s solid ratings lead the Saints’ receivers. Use secondary receiver Donte Stallworth to stretch defenses deep. The Saints’ defense is average with a couple above average defensive backs, including former Packer Mike Mckenzie.

New Orleans Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Aaron BrooksQB87938675733493

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Deuce McAllisterRB92929587749284

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Joe HornWR93909392958694

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Mike MckenzieCB88899088706390

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Dwight SmithFS90919291667177

New York Giants

The Eli Manning era "officially" kicks off as Peyton’s little brother begins the season as the undisputed starting quarterback. The talent is there but it’s still raw, which is reflected by his Madden 06 stats. Eli’s statistics aren’t particularly impressive and his low awareness is on the bottom edge of the league’s starting quarterbacks.

His supporting cast should help. Tiki Barber had a comeback year last season and is one of the best receiving backs in the game. The Giants’ added Pittsburgh’s Plaxico Burress to provide an additional weapon for young Eli. Plaxico excels in single-coverage with his 98 jump ability. Jeremy Shockey is one of the best tight ends in the game and should be a focus of your gameplan. Michael Strahan remains the Giants’ premiere defensive players.

New York Giants Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Eli ManningQB82928876585095

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Tiki BarberRB92939493858082

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Plaxico BurressWR87929392829877

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Amani ToomerWR85908986868787

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Jeremy ShockeyTE93845054868267

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Michael StrahanRE96728470858796

New York Jets

Last season’s New York Jets can be summed up with the following: the rebirth of Curtis Martin. He’s always been one of the best running backs in the NFL but he had some down years which seemed to indicate he was losing a step. Then comes last season where Curtis Martin has one of his best years. In Madden 06, he’s a good blend of speed and power as well as a threat as a pass receiver. Plus, he doesn’t fumble much with a 98 carry rating! Don’t hesitate to run inside behind highly rated center Kevin Mawae.

Chad Pennington is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league and excels in a high-percentage short-to-medium passing game (his throw power isn’t spectacular). He also boasts high awareness, which provides a wide field of vision.

Laveraneus Coles rejoins the team after a brief stint with the Redskins; his blazing speed does offer the chance to stretch defenses deep as well as burn defenders on crossing routes. On defense, the Jets added free agent cornerback Ty Law, formerly of the New England Patriots. He’s one of the best in the league.

New York Jets Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Chad PenningtonQB89869689554465

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Curtis MartinRB95899289798898

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Laveraneus ColesWR89989694898285

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Kevin MawaeC98929492875395

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
John AbrahamRE95808778847882

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Ty LawCB96959389657696

Oakland Raiders

The biggest offseason move involved the Oakland Raiders: they added the explosive, and often controversial, wide receiver Randy Moss to their roster. He might be a perfect fit for the bad boys of the Silver & Black. Randy Moss’ ratings are almost unbelievable: 99 speed, 99 acceleration, 97 catch, 99 jump, 90 awareness, and 90 agility. He’s the best receiver in the game. Jerry Porter offers a solid complement to Moss’ deep ball potential.

Kerry Collins has the arm to get him the ball deep and decent awareness to see the field. LaMont Jordan was added from the New York Jets to try and stabilize an inconsistent running game. Jordan isn’t fast but does offer decent power with an 89 break tackle rating. On defense, Charles Woodson is a standout player and a solid cornerback to line up against an opposing team’s primary receiver.

The Raiders’ Randy Moss is the highest rated receiver in Madden 06.

Oakland Raiders Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Kerry CollinsQB84958684503096

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Lamont JordanRB86899186708986

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Randy MossWR99999990979990

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Jerry PorterWR87919390869182

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Charles WoodsonCB91929392587487

Philadelphia Eagles

After three consecutive losses in the NFC Championship game, the Philadelphia Eagles finally got over the hump and made a Super Bowl appearance. But the season didn’t end with a victory; the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots. The team remains mostly intact and should be the favorite in the NFC. The Madden 06 team may be better than the real life Eagles, though; perennial football brat Terrell Owens continues to cause distractions in training camp but he’s one of the best receivers in Madden.

Brian Westbrook is an elusive running back and an equal threat as a pass receiver. Run behind excellent left tackle Tra Thomas. Defensively, the Eagles remain strong. Jevon Kearse and Corey Simon anchor a strong line and free safety Brian Dawkins is one of the best defensive backs in the Madden. And if you need a game winning field goal, you can’t do much better than David Akers.

Philadelphia Eagles Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Donovan McNabbQB97968888814887

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Brian WestbrookRB89949894827785

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Terrell OwensWR98949793959594

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Tra ThomasLT95949796824890

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Jevon KearseLE94859388757480

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Corey SimonDT94658663878884

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Brian DawkinsFS98909483846592

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRKPWKACAWR
David AkersK99939486

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an incredible season last year. The team was led by poised rookie Ben Roethlisberger; his stats reflect his excellent skills but also his inexperience. Throw power and accuracy are good but awareness is low, which limits his field of vision. An above-average speed provides the opportunity for roll out and scrambles.

The Steelers have the quintessential one-two punch backfield. Duce Staley is the faster back and the threat as a receiver; veteran Jerome Bettis is the power back with a 95 break tackle rating. Hines Ward remains one of the best receivers in the game. Control the clock with a running game (running behind left guard Alan Faneca) and open up a high-percentage passes with Hines Ward. On defense, defensive tackle Casey Hampton and linebacker Joey Porter are the stars.

Bulldoze defenders with Jerome Bettis’ 95 break tackle rating and the truck stick.

Pittsburgh Steelers Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Ben RoethlisbergerQB88938780706094

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Duce StaleyRB87878787768486

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Jerome BettisRB87828579539596

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Hines WardWR94899193958693

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Alan FanecaLG98979198794592

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Casey HamptonDT95576861959782

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Joey PorterROLB95859182916584

San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers had a fantastic season last year but the hard work ended in disappointment with a first round playoff loss to the New York Jets. Drew Brees returned to form and even earned the comeback player of the year honors. He’s solidly rated with good accuracy and awareness (for field of vision). LaDainian Tomlinson is arguably the best running back in the NFL--and in Madden 06. Explosive speed, acceleration, and a powerful break tackle rating. He’s also an awesome receiver out of the backfield.

Antonio Gates is a primary target in the passing game; he has emerged as one of the best tight ends in the game. Keenan McCardell was also added last year to improve the wide receiver position. He’s not especially fast but high awareness makes him especially useful in option routes.

San Diego Chargers Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Drew BreesQB89889488585490

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
LaDainian TomlinsonRB98959795859387

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Keenan McCardellWR87878587948294

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Antonio GatesTE96875458876670

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Donnie EdwardsMLB93858988917094

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Quentin JammerCB87939493677273

San Francisco 49ers

It’s hard to believe this is the same franchise that won five Super Bowl trophies in the 80s and early 90s. The same team led by Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young and future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Now the 49ers are one of the worst teams in the league. The organization hopes the future is brighter with the addition of first round pick quarterback Alex Smith. He has talent but his stats reflect his rookie status: a very poor awareness limiting his field of vision.

The once great 49ers are one of the lowest rated teams in the league. A rookie quarterback means low awareness.

Eric Johnson is a primary target on offense and has emerged as an excellent tight end. Kevan Barlow wasn’t particularly impressive in his first year as full time starter; his stats don’t place him among the league’s elite runners. Use two-back sets and include excellent fullback Fred Beasley into the mix as both a runner and pass catcher.

San Francisco 49ers Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Alex SmithQB82868772736093

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Kevan BarlowRB84879384658782

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Fred BeasleyFB96725264757277

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Eric JohnsonTE88745458876070

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Julian PetersonLOLB97889088915788

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Tony ParrishSS92858484757885

Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks were expected to contend for the NFC title last season but never achieved much consistency. Matt Hasselbeck didn’t repeat his spectacular season from the year before. He’s rated well but not exceptional: decent power, accuracy, and awareness for decent field of vision. Darrell Jackson is the primary receiver. Like Hasselbeck, he’s certainly solid but not a superstar in any of the important ratings.

Shaun Alexander is one of the best backs in the game: good speed, excellent acceleration, and a strong break tackle rating. A strong running game should be your primary focus. Run behind highly rated left tackle Walter Jones. On defense, former Texan Jaime Sharper was added to strengthen what was also an inconsistent squad.

Seattle Seahawks Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Matt HasselbeckQB89929087615284

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Shaun AlexanderRB96929888729495

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Matt StrongFB95836070686768

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Darrell JacksonWR89889191928890

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Walter JonesLT98959896885194

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Walter JonesLG95959094865586

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Jaime SharperLOLB94798279955789

St. Louis Rams

The Rams may not be "the Greatest Show on Turf" as they were in their recent Super Bowl seasons, but the offense is still one of the most potent in the NFL. Marc Bulger hasn’t quite achieved the greatness of former NFL MVP Kurt Warner’s best seasons but he offers decent power and accuracy as well as good awareness for a wide field of vision. Torry Holt and Issac Bruce are the best receiving duo in the game. Both are extremely fast with high veteran awareness.

The Rams’ receivers, led by all-pro Torry Holt, are some of the best in the game.

Marshall Faulk isn’t the back he used to be and is no longer the team’s undisputed number one. His stats remain fairly solid, however, but it’s worth mixing in Steven Jackson for his power. Don’t hesitate to include both in several offensive sets, particularly putting Faulk outside as a receiver to capitalize on his 83 catch rating. On the line, left tackle Orlando Pace is the standout.

St Louis Rams Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Marc BulgerQB88919187594966

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Marshall FaulkRB87909192837482

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Steven JacksonRB86888785759083

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Torry HoltWR96959693978795

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Issac BruceWR92939496958495

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Orlando PaceLT97969792905495

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Leonard LittleLE93859281787374

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been essentially in rebuilding mode since their Super Bowl season of a few years back. Last year they added rookie Michael Clayton to the wide receiver ranks; he put up great numbers and had one of the best years for a rookie wide out. Carnell Williams was drafted this season as the future running back. Currently the Bucs have several decent running backs, including Michael Pittman and Charlie Garner. Use packages to mix up your ball carriers and use dual RB sets as well as in receiver slots. Mike Alstott is also a decent change of pace.

Brian Griese has returned to more "Denver Bronco" era than "Miami Dolphin" era of his career. He boasts decent but not exceptional ratings. His awareness is average as is his field of vision.

The Bucs defense is still intimidating and feature stars at each position. Simeon Rice and Anthony McFarland carry the defensive line; Derrick Brooks is one of the league’s best linebackers; and Ronde Barber is a top cornerback, though not as fast as the league’s best.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Brian GrieseQB85889083583765

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Michael PittmanRB83889085768475

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Carnell WilliamsRB83929593738078

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Mike AlstottFB90824753619172

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Michael ClaytonWR87889188899282

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKSTRAWR
Simeon RiceLE95849478767494

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Derrick BrooksROLB97838884906595

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Ronde BarberCB92889691687291

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans are no longer the class of the AFC or their division. The Indianapolis Colts should once again run away with the AFC South and both the Jaguars and Texans should show improvement. The Titans are an aging team that lack playmakers.

Steve McNair is a former co-league MFP and a decent Madden 06 quarterback, but lacking in accuracy as well as durability (a low 69 injury rating). His above-average awareness provides a wide field of vision and above-average speed offers the opportunity for roll outs and scrambles--just don’t get roughed up by defenders.

The Titans added Travis Henry (former Buffalo Bill) in the offseason to share the load with oft-injured starter Chris Brown. Both running backs feature almost identical ratings. Drew Bennett is now the primary receiver after all-pro Derrick Mason left for the Baltimore Ravens.

Tennessee Titans Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Steve McNairQB91948487745569

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Chris BrownRB88909487639382

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Travis HenryRB87889185679277

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Drew BennettWR88898787909088

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Brad HopkinsLT93939495745291

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
Keith BulluckROLB95879087896590

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPTAKCTHAWR
Tank WilliamsSS88889083846177

Washington Redskins

The return of coach Joe Gibbs hasn’t produced results...yet. Patrick Ramsey enters the season as the expected starting quarterback. The former first round draft pick hasn’t developed the consistency required to be a premiere NFL quarterback. Former Jaguar Mark Brunell is a capable backup and actually features higher awareness (representing his experience) and a wider field of vision.

Clinton Portis is one of the fastest running backs in the game.

Running back Clinton Portis had a down year but remains one of the fastest and most elusive backs in the league. The Redskins traded for speedy Jets receiver Santana Moss (sending Laveraneus Coles in exchange) and also lost secondary receiver Rod Gardner to the Panthers. Use Santana Moss’ speed on deep balls and crossing routes to capitalize on his blazing acceleration and speed.

Washington Redskins Key Players

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRTHPTHAAWRSPDCARINJ
Patrick RamseyQB83948677564088

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
Clinton PortisRB92969896688684

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Santana MossWR87979896868280

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSTRPBKRBKACCAGIAWR
Randy ThomasRG92919787805485

PLAYERPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGITAKCTHAWR
LaVar ArringtonROLB95889487885482

Chapter 3 - NFL Superstar

This section provides tips on Madden 06’s new NFL Superstar mode. You select your parents, appearance, agent, take an IQ test, get drafted, participate in training camp, and hopefully become your new team’s most important asset.

Imagine if you could select your parents and your parents’ skills had a direct impact on your own abilities. That’s how NFL Superstar mode begins. In the "DNA" selection, you can cycle through various sets of fathers and mothers to find the best pairing possible. There’s not really an exact science to this but there are definitely some attributes to pay attention for.

Selecting a father that played a certain position will certainly make your superstar geared toward that same position. Then the better your father was at that position, the better your career begins. For instance, you may have a father who was a High School Defensive Back or a Hall of Fame Defensive Back. Obviously the stronger DNA comes from the NFL Hall of Fame star.

Also consider your parents’ other attributes and how they could affect player stats. Intelligence can increase your superstar’s awareness rating (especially important for quarterbacks since it determines the size of your vision cone). Parents with abilities affecting speed (such as a track star mom) will likely increase your player’s speed. Other parent attributes could affect your superstar’s other attributes that aren’t necessarily reflected on the field. There doesn’t seem to be a penalty to randomize your parents’ abilities over and over again until you find a desired match. Think of it as the character roll element of a role-playing game.

Next it’s time to groom your appearance, which you can continue to do after joining a team (by looking in the mirror) and adjusting your equipment. A bar at the bottom tracks your appearance. It seems higher appearance leads to things like movie offers. Then it’s time to hit the interview circuit and complete the IQ test before the NFL draft.

Before the NFL draft you must select an agent. Not every agent will be willing to work with you (the agents in red aren’t interested). As you play superstar mode and your player gets higher exposure, popularity, etc., the better agents will be willing to take you on as their client. It also seems to help if you import your player from NCAA 06 or NFL Street 2.

The agents are rated in a number of factors. For instance, if you’re looking to get exposure, consider an agent with good endorsements rating; also, certain agents have access to the Performance Institute, which can be used to improve player stats. The table below reveals agent stats.

AGENTNEGOTIATIONINFLUENCEINTERVIEWENDORSEMENTSPERFORMANCE INSTITUTE
P.A.R.ExcellentAverageGoodAverageYes
Joshua CulkinExcellentAverageGoodGoodYes
Mike MolinariGoodAverageAverageAverageNo
Larry CarlisleGoodAverageAverageAverageNo
Lamar PetersGoodGoodAverageAverageYes
Andrew MichaelsGoodExcellentGoodGoodYes
Alexander KeithGoodAverageAverageAverageNo
Danny CastoraniGoodAverageAverageGoodNo
Jerry StreusselGoodAverageAverageGoodNo
Jason MoralesAverageAverageGoodAverageNo
A.J. HernandezAverageAverageAverageGoodNo
Dan BakerAverageGoodAverageAverageYes
Timmy CowanAverageGoodAverageAverageNo
Jay FeeneyAverageAverageGoodAverageNo
Eli CummingsAverageGoodGoodAverageNo
Erik RockAverageGoodAverageAverageNo
Aubrey DeLongAverageAverageGoodAverageNo
Billy BaileyAverageAverageGoodAverageNo
Ace FrazierAverageGoodAverageAverageNo
IMA Inc.AverageAverageAverageGoodNo
Jay OweAverageGoodGoodAverageYes
James K.K. WolfPoorAverageAverageAverageYes
Jake HuyckPoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Graham CashPoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Stubbs NorthcoatePoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Sal TokiPoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Armando EubanksPoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Matthew FredericoPoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Ted SedPoorAverageAverageAverageNo
Don MoorePoorAverageAverageAverageNo

The draft soon follows. Don’t fret much if you aren’t picked early on. It’s just time to prove those teams that passed on you that they made a big mistake!

The training camp sessions can affect your player’s initial rating. Poor practices can reduce key statistics while solid practices can raise key statistics. Playing offense or defense depends on your superstar. In training camp you can select the same play and even put the defense in something like field goal block so your offense shines. It seems the goal is to have a solid "points per play" average. The higher the average, the better the practice and the better the chance you receive attribute bonuses. You need to have at least 10 reps to complete a practice.

During the season you can continue your superstar role-play with various endorsements, movie offers, and other situations. You may start working on a movie and will be required to memorize lines!

Check the city map and visit the barber shop or tattoo parlor to customize your player’s appearance. Realize that these elements do affect your popularity and can in turn affect your player’s exposure. Work on increasing your appearance rating as high as possible to make your superstar as marketable as possible (who doesn’t like an attractive sports star?).

Visit the Performance Institute (if your agent has access) to play mini-game drills that can increase your player’s statistics. As your superstar gains notoriety, better agents become interested. You can fire and hire as needed and gain access to the institute to improve your superstar in the mini-camp mini-game drills.

Chapter 4 - Offense

Last year’s Madden focused on defense (Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis donned the cover) but Madden 06 shifts the focus to the quarterback. It’s the year of the quarterback with Super Bowl runner-up Donovan McNabb on the cover. The primary addition to Madden 06 is quarterback vision control and precision placement. It adds an entire new dimension to the passing game. Some will argue vision control makes passing unnecessarily difficult while others may find the new feature extremely rewarding and realistic.

This section provides tips on managing your favorite team’s offensive gameplan covering both the passing and running games. You’ll find specific strategies for the new quarterback vision and precision passing, a compilation of Madden 06’s best offenses and offensive stars, and general tips on playcalling, passing, and rushing.

Top Ranked Offenses

This chart reveals the top ranked offenses based on overall rating in Madden 06.

TEAMCONFERENCE AND DIVISIONOFFENSE RATING
Indianapolis ColtsAFC South99
Kansas City ChiefsAFC West97
Green Bay PackersNFC North94
New England PatriotsAFC East93
Minnesota VikingsNFC North92
Philadelphia EaglesNFC East91
St. Louis RamsNFC West90
Denver BroncosAFC West90
Seattle SeahawksNFC West89
Pittsburgh SteelersAFC North89

Worst Ranked Offenses

This chart reveals the worst offenses based on overall rating in Madden 06.

TEAMCONFERENCE AND DIVISIONOFFENSE RATING
Chicago BearsNFC North66
Miami DolphinsAFC East67
Cleveland BrownsAFC North68
Baltimore RavensAFC North68
Washington RedskinsNFC East69
San Francisco 49ersNFC West71
New York GiantsNFC East74
Tampa Bay BuccaneersNFC South76
Buffalo BillsAFC East77
Arizona CardinalsNFC West78

Offensive Formations and Packages

The following list covers the basics of each formation, their strengths and weaknesses, and appropriate usage. Certain sub formations of each formation are also covered. Use this section as a guide during your offensive play selection.

  • Goal Line: The aptly named goal line formation would be used most often in very short yardage (three yards or less) or goal line situations. It’s a compact formation with big linemen blocking for a fullback and running back lining up behind the quarterback. Use playmaker control to switch the direction of your running play depending on how the defense stacks the line. Use package substitution to insert a jumbo backfield for, possibly, better break tackle ability (depending on your team). Switch to the Miami package to exchange the receiver for a better blocking tight end. Mix up your play with a pass out of goal line, which can be very effective. Use a hot route to ensure one of your receivers is running a quick pattern in case the defense has called a heavy blitz. If it’s "inches" to go, a QB sneak is usually a "money" play and rarely fails to deliver. Use playmaker control to flip the play so your QB can sneak away from any stacked defenders.

The I Form formation is a good choice for teams with two solid running backs because you can easily get them both into the mix with runs or as receivers.

  • I Form: The I Form formation features a fullback then a running back lined up directly behind the quarterback. The formation’s name is derived from the backfields resemblance to an "I". It’s usually a run formation--the fullback provides a lead block for the running back. But it can be a powerful pass formation as well, especially against aggressive opponents thinking run. For instance, the I Form-Big formation inserts two tight ends and just one receiver. Certainly a good running formation with all that blocking but also a surprising pass formation. In any I Form formation, utilize the running back and fullback (or two running backs if you use the Dual HB package) as options in the flat. If your opponent aggressively blitzes, one of those options is likely to be wide open.
  • Strong I, Weak I: These formations are similar to I-Form, but the fullback is offset either to the strong side (the side of the offensive line with the tight end) or the weak side (the side of the offensive line without the tight end). The uses are similar to the I Form. It’s an expected run formation but does offer some pass option sub formations and hitting the two backs in the flat or across the middle can be dangerous against an aggressive defense expecting run.
  • Far, Near: These formations are similar to Strong and Weak, but the fullback and running back are positioned close to one other behind the quarterback. Look for these formations in Detroit’s and Seattle’s playbook among others (including the West Coast playbook).
  • Split Backs: This is another two-back set but the two backs are lined up along the same line in a split formation. Both backs are just offset from the quarterback. It holds similar advantages and disadvantages to the other two back sets. It’s a decent run formation (though the I Form, Strong, and Weak seem to be consistently better in Madden for running the ball) and is a solid pass formation when you work the backs into the patterns (particularly for strong receiving running backs, such as San Diego or Kansas City).
  • Full House: The full house formation includes three backs in the backfield: one full back and two running backs. The position of the backs resembles a cross between the I Form and the Strong or Weak formation. It’s another strong run formation that provides several options. You can hand off to the primary back, the secondary back, the full back, or use it as a passing formation and send three backs into the pattern. The dual HB package moves the secondary running back behind the quarterback; the spell HB package moves the secondary running back to the primary’s position and uses a tight end in the full back’s spot.
  • Jumbo-T: The "run heavy" playbook includes the Jumbo-T, which resembles the full house formation with multiple backs (two running backs, one fullback) behind the quarterback. Like full house, it allows for several run options and can be effective in passing plays with effective back and tight end routes.

The Singleback formation is diverse with plenty of pass and run options.

  • Singleback: The singleback formation is extremely varied. In fact, some of the sub formations don’t even include a back behind the quarterback. Most, though, feature a single running back and a set of receivers, tight ends, or a mixture of both. Using the sets with a running back, three receivers, and a tight end can be unpredictable and pose match-up problems. If the defense calls nickel, then you have the advantage in the running game. If the defense calls 4-3 or 3-4, then you could have an advantage in the passing game.
  • Shotgun: The shotgun formation is a typical passing formation because it allows extra time for the quarterback to read the defense and hit the open receiver before the rush closes in. It’s certainly possible and often effective to run out of the shotgun formation as well.

The following table covers each Madden 06 NFL team’s playbook and the included offensive formations and sub formations.

TEAM PLAYBOOKMADDEN 06 OFFENSIVE FORMATIONS
Arizona CardinalsI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin-WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun-Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Normal, Singleback- Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Normal Flex
Atlanta FalconsI-Form-Normal, I-Form-Tight Twins, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-5WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Singleback-4WR Falcon, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Big Tight, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Baltimore RavensI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE
Buffalo BillsI-Form-Big, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-5WR, Shotgun-Trips, Shotgun-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Carolina PanthersFull House-Philly, Shotgun-4WR Spread, Shotgun-5WR Tight, Shotgun-Empty TE Flip, Shotgun-Empty Trey Stack, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Panther Trips, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips WR, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Big, Strong I-H Pro, Strong I-H TE Flip, Strong I-H Twin TE, Strong I-H Twins, Weak I-H Pro, Weak I-H Twin TE, Weak I-H Twins, Weak I-H Wing TE
Chicago BearsI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Trey Option, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Cincinnati BengalsI-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Trips, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight Slots, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Trips WR, Singleback-Twin TE, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Close, Weak I-Twin WR
Cleveland BrownsFull House-Normal Wide, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 4WR, Shotgun-4WR, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trey Open, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-3WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Weak I-3WR, Weak I-Normal
Dallas CowboysFull House-Normal Wide, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Empty 5 WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trey Open, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Split Backs-3WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Denver BroncosI-Form-Big, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-5WR, Shotgun-Empty Trey, Shotgun-Normal Slot, Singleback-Base Flex, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Empty Trey, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Big Tight, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Close, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Tight Twins, Weak I-Twin WR
Detroit LionsFar-Tight Twins, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twins WR, Near-Tight Twins, Shotgun-Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun-Slot Strg HB Wk, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Tight Slots, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-Twin WR, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Green Bay PackersFull House-Strong, Full House-Weak, Full House-Wide, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Empty Bunch, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singelback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Houston TexansI-Form-Big, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun-Trey Open, Shotgun-Wing Trips, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Big TE Flip, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strg HB Wk, Singleback-Slot Strong, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twins WR
Indianapolis ColtsI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-4WR Stack, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Deuce, Singleback-Dice, Singleback-Slot Strong, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Twin WR, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal
Jacksonville JaguarsI-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-5WR, Shotgun-Trips Bunch, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Empty 4WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Kansas City ChiefsI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB Flex, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-5WR, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Flip Trips, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Trips TE, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Normal Flex, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
Miami DolphinsI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-5WR, Shotgun-Normal Slot, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Shotgun-Wing Trips, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Weak I-Normal
Minnesota VikingsI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-2RB Flex, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Empty Trips, Shotgun-Normal Slot, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Shotgun-Tight, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Weak I-3WR
New England PatriotsI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-5WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strong TE Flip, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big 3TE, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Empty 4WR, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE
New Orleans SaintsI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-5WR Bunch, Shotgun-Empty 4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Empty Trey, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight Doubles, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE, Weak I-Twin WR
New York GiantsFull House-Normal Wide, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun-Slot Strong TE Flip, Shotgun-Trips Bunch, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Empty 4 WR, Singleback-Flip Trips, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Twin TE, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE
New York JetsI Form-Big, I Form-Normal, I Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Empty 4WR, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight Flex, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Strong I-H Pro, Strong I-H Twins, Weak I-H Pro, Weak I-H Twins
Oakland RaidersI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Empty 4WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Offset Strong, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Split Backs-Flex Close, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Close, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Tight Twins, Weak I-Twin TE, Weak I-Twin WR
Philadelphia EaglesI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, Near-3WR, Near-Normal, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Trips WR, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Normal, Split Backs-Twin WR, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE, Weak I-Twins WR
Pittsburgh SteelersI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Trips, Shotgun-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Flip Trips, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE, Strong I-Jumbo, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE, Weak I-Twin WR
San Diego ChargersI-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-2RB 3WR, Shotgun-2RB Flex, Shotgun-4WR, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Base Flex, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Flip Trips, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Trey Open, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-3WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Normal Flex, Strong I-Twin TE, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Close, Weak I-Normal
Seattle SeahawksFar-3WR, Far-Pro, I-Form-3WR, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Near-Close, Near-Jumbo, Near-Pro, Singleback-4WR Flex, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Bunch Swap, Singleback-Empty Trey, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight Doubles, Singleback-Trey Open, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Pro, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-Twin WR
San Francisco 49ersI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Shotgun-Trips Bunch, Singleback-4WR, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Empty Trey, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin WR, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twin TE, Weak I-Twin WR
St. Louis RamsI-Form-3WR, I-Form-Normal, I-Form-Twin TE, I-Form-Twin WR, Shotgun-4WR, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Base Flex, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Trips WR, Singleback-Twin TE, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-H Pro, Strong I-Normal, Weak I-3WR, Weak I-Big, Weak I-H Twins
Tampa Bay BuccaneersFull House-Normal Wide, I-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, I-Form Tight Twins, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Bunch TE, Singleback-Empty 4WR, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Empty Bunch, Singleback-Normal, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-3WR, Split Backs-Normal, Strong I-3WR, Strong I-Normal, Strong I-Twin TE, Weak I-Normal, Weak I-Twins WR
Tennessee TitansI-Form-Big, I-Form-Normal, Shotgun-4WR, Shotgun-Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun-Slot Strong, Shotgun-Trips TE, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Big Wing, Singleback-Empty 5WR, Singleback-Normal Slot, Singleback-Slot Strong, Singleback-Tight Flex, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Strong I-H Pro, Strong I-H Twins, Weak I-H Pro, Weak I-H Twins
Washington RedskinsFull House-Normal Wide, I-Form-3WR, I-Form-Close, I-Form-Twin TE, Singleback-4WR Spread, Singleback-4WR Stack, Singleback-Big, Singleback-Big Jumbo Wing, Singleback-Big TE Flip, Singleback-Big Twin WR, Singleback-Deuce Wing, Singleback-Normal TE Flip, Singleback-Stack Doubles Wk, Singleback-Strg TE Flip, Singleback-Trips Bunch, Singleback-Trips WR, Singleback-Twin TE, Singleback-Twin TE WR, Split Backs-3WR, Strong I-H Twin TE, Weak I-H Twin TE, Weak I-H Wing TE

Alter the personnel in a specific formation with package substitutions. Using packages you can easy insert two running backs instead of using a fullback, swap wide receiver positions, or move a running back to the wide out slot. The following list details some of the package substitutions and how to use them effectively.

  • Dual HB: In formations with two running backs (including Form, Strong, Weak, and Shotgun-2RB 3WR), this package switches the fullback for the team’s secondary running back. This can be an effective substitution for teams with two decent running backs (for instance, Atlanta, Tennessee, Denver, Arizona, Miami, etc) for pass plays to the backs. Also if you want a quick way to utilize the secondary running back on plays designed for the fullback.
  • Jumbo Backfield: Substitutes your running back for the fullback for dual fullbacks. Good for short yardage situations and for teams with good fullbacks (San Francisco, San Diego, for instance) for use in runs designed for running backs.
  • WR Swap: Swap the primary and secondary receiver positions to alter their assigned pass routes. Could create mismatches against a defense that hasn’t made defensive assignments for man coverage.
  • WR Swap Strong: Places your best two receivers on the strong side then swaps their position (essentially placing your top receiver in the slot position).
  • Spell HB: If your primary running back is fatigued, use this package to quickly swap in your secondary back for some fresh legs. Return to normal package after a play or two once your primary back has rested.
  • HB Slot: Substitution your running back into the slot position in a three or more receiver set. A great way to get a stellar pass receiving running back into the passing game. For instance, pass a ball deep to the Minnesota’s speedy Michael Bennett.
  • Strong Slot: Substitutes your best receiver into the slot position. Excellent for helping get your best receiver open and up against new defenders, possibly a mismatch against a safety or even a linebacker.
  • HB Wideout: Substitutes your running back into the wideout position. Much like HB Slot, useful if your favorite team has a running back with great hands.
  • TE Slot: Substitutes your tight end into the slot position. Use this package if your team has a good receiving tight end (Kansas City, San Diego, Baltimore, New York Giants) or plan to run in the formation toward the tight end--the tight end is usually a better blocker.
  • TE Swap: Switch tight end positions in formations with two tight ends. Also could be strong and weak.
  • TE Backfield: Switched the tight end into the backfield. Useful for a good blocking tight end.
  • WR Strong: Places your top receivers on the strong side of the formation.
  • WR Strong Weak: Places your best two receivers on the same side in a multiple receiver set--for instance in a five receiver set.
  • WR Bunch: Positions the top receivers into the "bunch" area of the formation.
  • Big: Substitutes wide receivers for tight ends and fullbacks for a "big" formation. This could turn a bunch formation passing play into a solid running play with the increased blocking abilities of the tight ends and fullbacks.
  • Strong Solo: In formations with multiple receivers on one side and one receiver on another, places your top receiver in the solo position.
  • Heavy: A linemen subs for a tight end, optimum for extra blocking.
  • Miami: On goal line, substitutes your receiver for a tight end and a defensive lineman for your tight end.

The Passing Game

Madden 06 has shifted focus to the quarterback with the addition of "Quarterback Vision Control" and "Precision Passing". Reading defenses and throwing to the appropriate receiver has never been more important. The vision control effectively eliminates a favorite online play of year’s past: the Michael Vick run behind the line of scrimmage crazily and toss up a bomb to a random receiver play. To be most accurate, you must throw to a receiver within your quarterback’s vision. If you throw to a quarterback outside your vision, deductions are made to accuracy and you’re much more likely to be intercepted.

Top Ranked Quarterbacks

The following chart reveals the top rated quarterbacks in Madden 06. The chart is sorted by the Awareness statistic, which determines the span of the quarterback’s vision cone, and lists only a team’s listed (or expected) starter. Some back-up quarterbacks have high awareness, including Brad Johnson on the Vikings and Mark Brunell on the Redskins. Some backups have higher awareness than the starter!

PLAYERTEAMAWRTHPTHASPDCARINJ
Peyton ManningIndianapolis Colts999599576198
Tom BradyNew England Patriots989296585196
Brett FavreGreen Bay Packers979788536299
Trent GreenKansas City Chiefs958894524383
Kurt WarnerArizona Cardinals908990443149
Chad PenningtonNew York Jets898696554465
Donovan McNabbPhiladelphia Eagles889688814887
Drew BledsoeDallas Cowboys889585453965
Drew BreesSan Diego Chargers888894585490
Trent DilferCleveland Browns888987475560
Daunte CulpepperMinnesota Vikings879890804087
Steve McNairTennessee Titans879484745569
Matt HasselbeckSeattle Seahawks879290615284
Marc BulgerSt. Louis Rams879191596166
Jake DelhommeCarolina Panthers868989655685
Kerry CollinsOakland Raiders849586503096
David CarrHouston Texas839585653695
Brian GrieseTampa Bay Buccaneers838890653765
Jake PlummerDenver Broncos838986704792
Byron LeftwichJacksonville Jaguars829788484784
Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh Steelers809387706094
Michael VickAtlanta Falcons789780944076
Patrick RamseyWashington Redskins779486564088
Joey HarringtonDetroit Lions779185603788
Carson PalmerCincinnati Bengals779586583988
Eli ManningNew York Giants769288585095
A.J. FeeleyMiami Dolphins768784544087
Rex GrossmanChicago Bears769088594274
Aaron BrooksNew Orleans Saints759386733493
Kyle BollerBaltimore Ravens749279694788
Alex SmithSan Francisco 49ers728687736093
J.P. LosmanBuffalo Bills679282704878

Quarterback Vision Control and Precision Passing

The basics of Madden 06’s new quarterback vision control are simple. Your quarterback features a unique "cone" that lights up a segment of the field. This lit vision cone tracks a designated receiver. Throwing to a receiver within the cone grants accuracy bonuses; throwing to a receiver outside the cone adds accuracy penalties.

Now it’s certainly possible to complete a pass to a receiver outside your cone, but not only are successful catch chances decreased but a poorly thrown pass outside the cone could hang in the air and provide an easy interception chance. A completely open receiver would be the best time to test the accuracy penalty.

In general you should try to throw within your cone, though realize that you don’t necessarily have to switch to another receiver to still throw in the cone. Perhaps you’re locked onto a receiver going deep and a second receiver is on a crossing pattern through the cone. You can hit the second receiver accurately within the cone.

A quarterback’s awareness rating determines his field of vision.

The system adds a complexity to the passing game but it’s also extremely rewarding to switch the cone off a covered receiver onto the open man. Before the snap, check the defense and adjust your primary receiver as needed. Your primary receiver will be the one your quarterback looks to first--the cone will be locked onto that receiver. If that receiver isn’t open, it’s time to adjust your cone (either switching directly to a new receiver or by going from receiver to receiver) to an open target.

To help get used to the new vision cone, start by calling passing plays with a "check down" receiver, such as a running back out in the flat or a quick out pattern that may have a high percentage chance of being open. That way if your primary receiver is covered, you can quickly change to the "check down". Note that it seems as if you don’t have to change the vision cone to a running back in the flat--the pass is still accurate. Be careful, though, and avoid tossing a flat pass late if the defense is in a zone. Could be an easy defensive touchdown!

Practice using the "right-analog" stick method of switching the cone to a new receiver. Having to press a shoulder button to adjust the cone can get cumbersome and cause mistakes when you’re trying to throw the ball instead of switch the cone. Move the right-analog stick in the direction you want the quarterback to start looking. When the cone reaches the new receiver (or covers the new receiver), throw the ball. But if you have the cross the entire field or a quarterback with an especially small field of vision, use the shoulder button and receiver button method to switch quickly, especially when under pressure.

Like a real quarterback, you can stare down a particular receiver using the cone then switch to an open man and fire a quick pass. Commentators refer to this as "looking off a defender" as you’re disguising the fact you’re intention is to throw elsewhere.

Precision passing isn’t technically a new feature but it’s a focus in Madden 06. Precision passing allows you to place the ball ahead of a receiver or behind a receiver when he’s under tight coverage from a defender. Use the left-analog stick or the D-pad to place the ball. On a fly pattern (the receiver goes deep essentially in a straight line), press the stick or pad up to lead the receiver. On a crossing pattern or out pattern, press the stick or pad in the direction away from the defender and toward the pattern. It’s best used in man-to-man coverage. If a defender is waiting in a zone defense, your precision pass may end up in the defender’s hands. Use precision pass to keep the ball away from pursuing defenders.

From the Playcall to the Catch

The following tips provide passing strategy from the playcall to the presnap read to throwing the ball and finally the catch.

  • Mix up your play-calling, especially up against human opponents. Don’t always pass from shotgun, multi-receiver formations. Call an expected run formation (such as a multi-tight end set or one with a couple running backs) then call a passing play. It’s much tougher to complete passes when the defense expects a pass. Use play-action passes (indicated by PA in the play-call screen) to simulate a run play. This can catch computer defenders off guard and open up the passing lanes for your receivers.
  • As you approach the line of scrimmage, take note of how the defenders adjust to the play. If a safety moves up against one of your wide receivers then he’s in double-coverage. If a safety moves up to the defensive line, then he’s on a blitz. Adjust your primary receiver at this point or even call an audible or hot route to take advantage of the defense’s movements. You can also use motion to detect if the defense is in man-to-man or zone. If the defender follows the receiver, it’s man-to-man. Good routes against man coverage are hooks, crosses, and outs; good routes against zone are deep fades.

Slide the offensive line’s protection for rollout passes, to defend against blitzing, or even on running plays.

  • Use slide protection to shift the linemen in a particular direction or even to spread out or pinch the middle of the line. You can use slide protection to help stuff blitzing defenders or to aid in your quarterback’s rollout.
  • At the snap of the ball, watch how the defenders react to your receivers. If the safeties retreat, they’re in zone coverage. If linebackers move toward a receiver or running back, they’re in man; if the linebackers back off or go side to side they’re in zone. Your goal is to find a free passing lane; this means finding an open lane for you to throw the ball without a defender’s obstruction. Any defender in the lane could leap and intercept the ball. This isn’t always the case but it’s best to throw through empty lanes for the highest chance of success.
  • Single-coverage is always your best option. The likelihood of a catch is always greater when there’s only one defender on the ball. This is especially true if you’re trying to test the defense deep. Other success factors include the position of your receiver in relation to the defender. If your receiver is closer to the quarterback than the defender, the likelihood of a catch is greater.
  • Try to exploit match-ups. Cornerbacks are the best defenders against wide receivers. But if you can get a safety or, better, a linebacker lined up against a wide receiver then you have the advantage. Take note of how the defenders are lined up against your formation and look to hit the receiver that offers the greatest advantage in the match-up.

Knowing when to fire a bullet pass or lob is important to consistent passing success.

  • Your quarterback can fire a bullet pass, lob, or "standard" pass depending on how hard and long you press the receiver’s button. Use a bullet pass when you’re trying to get the ball to the receiver quickly (perhaps the receiver is approaching a defender’s zone) or when throwing to a hook pattern. The downside is the bullet flies low, making it easier for defenders in the passing lane to snag. Use a lob when you want your receiver to run under the ball. Use it when there are no defenders in the passes direction. For instance, don’t lob the ball when your receiver is approaching a group of defenders or it becomes an easy pick. Use a lob when trying to get the ball over a defender’s head.

Top Ranked Wide Receivers

The following chart reveals the top rated wide receivers in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMOVRSPDACCAGICTHJMPAWR
Randy MossOakland Raiders99999997979990
Terrell OwensPhiladelphia Eagles98949793959594
Marvin HarrisonIndianapolis Colts98969897998799
Torry HoltSt. Louis Rams96969693978795
Chad JohnsonCincinnati Bengals95949595949388
Hines WardPittsburgh Steelers94899194958693
Joe HornNew Orleans Saints93909392958694
Derrick MasonBaltimore Ravens92919494958495
Issac BruceSt. Louis Rams92939496958495
Andre JohnsonHouston Texans91959592889481
Javon WalkerGreen Bay Packers91929393909385
Mushin MuhammadChicago Bears91908789948694

Top Ranked Tight Ends

The following chart reveals the top rated tight ends in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMOVRSPDPBKRBKCTHBTKCAR
Tony GonzalezKansas City Chiefs98865557907586
Antonio GatesSan Diego Chargers96875458876670
Todd HeapBaltimore Ravens94795560886572
Jeremy ShockeyNew York Giants93845054868267
Alge CrumplerAtlanta Falcons93865459856570
Jason WhittenDallas Cowboys92815361856969
Randy McMichaelMiami Dolphins90825557827573
Eric JohnsonSan Francisco 49ers88745458876070

The Running Game

A consistent running attack can be about patience. You aren’t going to bust off 20-yard runs every play. In fact, there will be many times when you gain just a single yard, no yards, or even lose yardage. Like managing the passing game, success in the running game depends on astute play calls, reading the defense, and play execution.

Before the Snap

Predictable play-calling is the quickest way to hinder your running game. Don’t always run out of expected run formations. For instance, your formation contains 2 TE, 1 WR, and 2 RB. The tight-ends are usually in to provide extra blocking and just one receiver limits the passing game. This is an expected run formation and while it might be effective given the added blocking, the defense may focus on stopping the run and still gain the advantage.

Practice the running game out of 3 WR sets or shotgun formations. The defense must adjust to the possibility of the pass, which limits the number of defenders around the line of scrimmage. This in turn can open up the running game. Fewer linebackers could mean the inside run becomes extremely lethal. Also consider the situation when choosing a play. 2nd down and 10 isn’t a typical run situation: so call a run play! Combine it with a passing formation to catch your opponent in a Nickel or Dime defense. Those defensive backs are much easier to run over!

Read the defense at the line and adjust the direction of the running play using playmaker control.

At the line of scrimmage, observe how the defenders are adjusting at the line. Have the linebackers shifted left or right or pinched the middle? Has a safety crept up to the line of scrimmage and preparing to blitz? Use the playmaker control to switch the direction of the called run play if the other side has opened up. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes it’s useful to run at defenders such as a blitzing safety. If you can get around him, the gain could be huge.

You can also use motion to shift defenders to another side of the field or to even add another blocker to your inside run play. Call a receiver in motion then hike the ball when the receiver reaches your running lane.

After the Snap

At the snap of the ball, don’t immediately jam on the sprint button and press into the line. It’s often best to follow the running play as designed. Your blockers are opening a specific hole for your running back; your goal is to hit that hole and sprint through into the linebackers or secondary. Naturally the play could break down. Observe how the blocking is holding up and adjust to another direction if necessary. Keep your back moving north and south rather than east and west so you’re gaining positive yardage.

Practice the special move buttons, such as spin, stiff arm, and juke. All of these should be used to pick up an extra couple yards or even create a big gain. The spin isn’t as über-powerful as it is in NCAA 06. Utilize stiff arm for running over defenders, particularly weak tackling defenders like cornerbacks. Perform a juke move to dodge an incoming defender. You should also use juke to pop through a hole. For instance, you sprint toward a hole in the line and it’s collapsing along the left side. As you enter the hole, perform a juke to the right to squeeze through the hole.

Plow through defenders with the new truck stick...but overuse can lead to fumbles.

Madden 06 adds the "truck stick," primarily used for the running back position. Use the right-analog stick to administer a "big hit" on offense. When effective, the truck stick can pancake a would-be tackler. Obviously this is most potent for running backs with a high break tackle rating. Time the truck stick just as you hit the approaching defender. Careful, however, because it seems the truck stick makes your ball carrier more susceptible to a fumble.

Top Ranked Running Backs

The following chart reveals the top rated running backs in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMOVRSPDACCAGICTHBTKCAR
LaDainian TomlinsonSan Diego Chargers98959795859387
Shaun AlexanderSeattle Seahawks96929888729495
Edgerrin JamesIndianapolis Colts96929491789391
Curtis MartinNew York Jets95899289798898
Priest HolmesKansas City Chiefs95929592798596
Jamal LewisBaltimore Ravens94899588689984
Corey DillonNew England Patriots93909488659392
Deuce McAllisterNew Orleans Saints92929587749284
Clinton PortisWashington Redskins92969896688684
Ahman GreenGreen Bay Packers92969690778875
Tiki BarberNew York Giants92939493858082
Willis McGaheeBuffalo Bills91929591689287

Top Ranked Fullbacks

The following chart reveals the top rated fullbacks in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMOVRSPDPBKRBKBTKCTHCAR
Tony RichardsonKansas City Chiefs97775268787278
Fred BeasleySan Francisco 49ers96725264727577
Matt StrongSeattle Seahawks95836070676868
Jim KleinsasserMinnesota Vikings92745468667468
Lorenzo NealSan Diego Chargers92556685685470
Mike AlstottTampa Bay Bucs93824753956574

Top Ranked Offensive Linemen

The following chart reveals the top rated offensive linemen in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMPOSITIONOVRACCAGIPBKRBKSTRAWR
Jonathan OgdenBaltimore RavensLT99905794999895
Walter JonesSeattle SeahawksLT98885198969594
Alan FanecaPittsburgh SteelersLG98794591989792
Kevin MawaeNew York JetsC98875394929295
Olin KreutzChicago BearsC98886094929190
Will ShieldsKansas City ChiefsRG98855095939295
Orlando PaceSt. Louis RamsLT97905497929695
Matt BirkMinnesota VikingsC96855593909195
Tra ThomasPhiladelphia EaglesLT95824897969490
Willie RoafKansas City ChiefsLT95834692969695
Steve HutchinsonSeattle SeahawksLG95865590949586
Tom NalenDenver BroncosC95805597948796
Marco RiveraDallas CowboysRG95754693949394
Willie AndersonCincinnati BengalsRT94624790989796

Chapter 5 - Defense

Last year’s Madden focused on defense and naturally many of the awesome new features have been carried over into Madden 06. This section provides statistics on the best team defenses and star players, covers new formations and packages, provides an overview of various shifts and adjustments, and offers tips on coaching a stifling defense.

Top Ranked Defenses

The following chart reveals the top rated defenses based on overall rating in Madden 06.

TEAMCONFERENCE AND DIVISIONDEFENSE RATING
New England PatriotsAFC East96
Pittsburgh SteelersAFC North95
Buffalo BillsAFC East94
Philadelphia EaglesNFC East93
Baltimore RavensAFC North90
Tampa Bay BuccaneersNFC South88
Carolina PanthersNFC South87
Washington RedskinsNFC East87
New York JetsAFC East86
Jacksonville JaguarsAFC South85

Worst Ranked Defenses

This chart reveals the worst ranked defenses based on overall rating in Madden 06.

TEAMCONFERENCE AND DIVISIONDEFENSE RATING
New Orleans SaintsNFC South65
Oakland RaidersAFC West67
Tennessee TitansAFC South68
Indianapolis ColtsAFC South69
San Francisco 49ersNFC West69
Cleveland BrownsAFC North70
Green Bay PackersNFC North70
Kansas City ChiefsAFC West71
St. Louis RamsNFC West73
Detroit LionsNFC North74

Defensive Formations and Packages

Each Madden 06 team features a specific playbook. This table reveals the available defenses within each defensive playbook. All playbooks feature Goal Line.

PLAYBOOK4-3 DEFENSES3-4 DEFENSES46 DEFENSESNICKEL DEFENSESDIME DEFENSESQUARTER DEFENSES
4-3Normal, Over, UnderNoneNoneNormal, Strong, 3-3-5Normal, 3-2-6, FlatNormal, 3-Deep
3-4NoneNormal, Over, Under, SolidNone1-5-5, 1-5-5 Prowl, 2-4-5, 3-3-5Normal, 3-2-6Normal, 3 Deep
Cover 2Normal, UnderNormal, OverNoneNormal, 1-5-5 Prowl, 2-4-5, 3-3-5Normal, 3-2-6, FlatNormal
46NormalNoneNormal, BearNormal, Strong, 3-3-5Normal, 3-2-6, FlatNormal
Balanced DNormal, UnderNormal, Over, SolidNormal, BearNormal, 1-5-5 Prowl, 3-3-5Normal, 3-2-6, FlatNormal, 3 Deep
QB ContainNormal, Over, UnderNormal, UnderNoneNormal, 2-4-5, 3-3-5, StrongNormal, 3-2-6, FlatNormal, 3 Deep

The table below reveals the default defensive playbook for each NFL team.

TEAMDEFAULT DEFENSIVE PLAYBOOK
Arizona Cardinals4-3
Atlanta Falcons4-3
Baltimore Ravens4-3
Buffalo Bills4-3
Carolina Panthers4-3
Chicago BearsCover 2
Cincinnati Bengals4-3
Cleveland Browns3-4
Dallas Cowboys3-4
Denver Broncos4-3
Detroit Lions4-3
Green Bay Packers4-3
Houston Texans3-4
Indianapolis ColtsCover 2
Jacksonville Jaguars4-3
Kansas City Chiefs4-3
Miami Dolphins4-3
Minnesota Vikings4-3
New England Patriots3-4
New Orleans Saints4-3
New York Giants4-3
New York JetsCover 2
Oakland Raiders3-4
Philadelphia Eagles4-3
Pittsburgh Steelers3-4
San Diego Chargers3-4
San Francisco 49ers3-4
Seattle Seahawks4-3
St. Louis RamsCover 2
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCover 2
Tennessee Titans4-3
Washington Redskins4-3

The following table covers each defense, provides a description, lists available packages, and provides commentary on advantages and disadvantages.

FORMATIONDESCRIPTIONPACKAGESADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
Goal LineTight formation for short-yardage situations.Safety Swap, Jumbo, 3 DT, Strong, LB EndsExcellent in short yardage situations (three yards or less) when you can expect a run play. Adjust the line and linebackers to pinch the expected run route.Vulnerable to pass plays, especially if you blitz the linebackers and it’s blocked. Be ready to switch out of goal line if the offense calls an audible and you now expect a pass.
4-3 NormalFour defensive linemen, three linebackers, four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB FlipThis is the base defense for more NFL teams. A solid all-around defense, particularly against inside runs and short to medium passes.Vulnerable to multiple wide out sets, especially if you’re in man coverage. Can be susceptible to the outside run if you blitz linebackers.
4-3 OverMoves an outer linebacker to the line for five defensive linemen, two linebackers, and four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB FlipStrong against the run and outside run as linebackers move up on the line. Can be an effective blitz package.Beware of the inside run if the back gets through the line. There are only two linebackers there now. Like 4-3 Normal, very open to the passing game, including crossing routes over the middle.
4-3 UnderMoves an outer linebacker to the line for five defensive linemen, two linebackers, and four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB FlipStrong against the run and outside run as linebackers move up on the line. Can be an effective blitz package.Beware of the inside run if the back gets through the line. There are only two linebackers there now. Like 4-3 Normal, very open to the passing game, including crossing routes over the middle.
3-4Three defensive linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE FlipSeveral NFL teams now use the 3-4 defense. Better against outside runs and in middle coverage pass coverage.Weaker pass rush unless you blitz linebackers or defensive backs. Can be vulnerable against multiple receiver sets, especially four or more.
3-4 OverThree defensive linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs. An outside linebacker tightens up the edge of the line.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE FlipKeeps the four linebackers but shifts an outside linebacker to the edge of the line. Helps stuff inside run and adds pass rush if the linebacker blitzes.Watch the outside run to that side if the outside linebacker is blocked. Vulnerable against multiple receiver sets.
3-4 UnderThree defensive linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs. An outside linebacker tightens up the edge of the line.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE FlipKeeps the four linebackers but shifts an outside linebacker to the edge of the line. Helps stuff inside run and adds pass rush if the linebacker blitzes.Watch the outside run to that side if the outside linebacker is blocked. Vulnerable against multiple receiver sets.
3-4 SolidThree defensive linemen, four linebackers, and four defensive backs. Outside linebackers crowd the line for essentially five defensive linemen.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE FlipKeeps four linebackers but both outside linebackers crowd the line. Can stuff middle run and adds pass rush.Watch the outside run. Vulnerable to multiple receiver sets.
46 NormalFour defensive linemen, three linebackers, four defensive backs but shifts one safety up to the linebacker position leaving one safety deep.Speed, OLB SwapSimilar to the 4-3 but one safety plays closer to the line of scrimmage for increased run stopping. Strong blitz defense. Beware of deep passes, especially if the closer safety is forced into man coverage against a faster receiver.
46 BearSix defensive linemen (some are linebackers on the line), one linebacker, three defensive backs with one safety playing in a linebacker spot leaving one deep safety.46 Swap, LB/DE Swap, LB CoverageCombines the 46 Normal and 4-3 Over defenses. Increased pressure along the line for stronger run defense.Stronger run defense often means weaker pass defense. The inside run is also more vulnerable with only two players in a linebacker position and one safety deep.
Nickel NormalFour defensive linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs.Strong Nickel, Strong Shift, CB Swap, Safety Swap, LOLB Right, LOLB Left, LB SwapAn additional defensive back helps protect against the pass. Be sure the "nickel back" is lined up against the slot receiver. Optimum against 3 WR sets.More susceptible to running plays. Also beware of the offense moving their best receiver around. Your "nickel back" isn’t as skilled as your best corner and might be unable to cover the opposing team’s best WR one-on-one.
Nickel StrongSame as nickel but shifts the safety toward the strong side.Strong Nickel, Strong Shift, CB Swap, Safety Swap, MLB or LOLB Right, MLB or LOLB LeftIncreased safety help on the strong side. Helps provide additional coverage on a stacked formation (where more receivers and/or tight ends are on one side).Similar to the standard nickel. Also the safety shifted over could leave the other side open, especially if there are backs on pass patterns.
Nickel 1-5-5One defensive lineman, five linebackers, five defensive backs. Crowded line of scrimmage with basically one MLB.DE Pass Rush, MLB Swap, OLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, SS Nickel, FS NickelFive linebackers help defend against a run and five defensive backs help defend the pass. Good for teams with a solid group of linebackers.Little pass rush if you keep the linebackers in coverage. A weaker defense if your line is the strongest defensive element.
Nickel 1-5-5 ProwlOne defensive lineman, five linebackers, five defensive backs. Spread line of scrimmage with essentially two MLBs.DE Pass Rush, MLB 2, OLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, SS Nickel, FS NickelFive linebackers help defend against a run and five defensive backs help defend the pass. Good for teams with a solid group of linebackers.Little pass rush if you keep the linebackers in coverage. A weaker defense if your line is the strongest defensive element.
Nickel 2-4-5Two defensive linemen, four linebackers, five defensive backs. DE Pass Rush, MLB Swap, OLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, SS Nickel, FS NickelFour linebackers help defend the run. Good for teams with a solid group of linebackers (such as 3-4 defense teams).Little pass rush from two linemen so need to use linebackers or more. A weaker defense if the line is the strongest element of your defense.
Nickel 3-3-5Three defensive linemen, three linebackers, and five defensive backs.4th CB, OLB FlipFive defensive backs cover the pass in standard nickel formation and the three linebackers help protect against the run and medium pass.Not much pass rush from the three man line without additional blitzing.
Dime NormalFour defensive linemen, one linebacker, six defensive backs.ROLB, LOLB, CB Swap, LB Pass RushThe addition of six defensive backs is strongest against the pass, particularly four or five receiver sets. Call in certain passing situations.Being a heavily pass-oriented defense, it’s weaker against an unexpected run. Also beware of quarterback scrambles, especially if you’re in man-to-man.
Dime 3-2-6Three defensive linemen, two linebackers, six defensive backs.4th CB, MLB/ROLB Swap, MLB/LOLB Swap, Safety Flip, CB Strong Rt, CB Strong LtThe addition of six defensive backs is strongest against the pass, particularly four or five receiver sets. An extra linebacker can help defend against an unexpected run.Being a heavily pass-oriented defense, it’s weaker against an unexpected run. Also beware of quarterback scrambles, especially if you’re in man-to-man.
Dime FlatSame as dime but closes safeties in and backs off corners. It’s a tighter coverage.ROLB, LOLB, CB SwapSimilar personnel to dime so it’s still strong against the pass but it’s tighter so not as weak against the run.Can be vulnerable to deep pass routes.
Quarters NormalThree defensive linemen, one linebacker, seven defensive backs.Linebackers, LB Pass Rush, LOLB, ROLBSeven defensive backs to flood the defensive zone with pass protectors.Use it certain pass situations since it’s easy to run against.
Quarters 3 DeepSame as quarters but shifts a defensive back into a deep safety position for three deep safeties.ROLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Swap, Slot Swap, LB Pass Rush, LOLB SwapShifts three safeties deep. Useful on very long yardage situations.Don’t call when the offense might run!

Defensive Shifts

The following table reveals defensive adjustments that can be made before the ball is snapped.

POSITIONSHIFTSCOMMENTARY
Defensive LineShift outside tackles, shift tight between tackles, shift line left, shift line rightAgainst an expected inside run, shift line tighter; against an expected outside run, spread line out. Shift line toward a left or right run or toward a tight end to bump him at the line.
LinebackersSpread linebackers out, shift linebackers in tight, shift linebackers left, shift linebackers rightAgainst an expected inside run, shift linebackers tighter; against an expected outside run, spread linebackers out. Shift linebackers left or right against corresponding run or to help free up blitzing linebackers.
CoveragePut defensive backs into bump and run (tighter coverage at line), put defensive backs in loose coverage, shift safeties and linebackers into better position to cover assignmentPlay tight coverage when your defensive backs have an advantage over opponent’s receivers; play looser against expected deep passes. Shift coverage into better position for tighter coverage against expected shorter routes.

Defensive Adjustments

The following table covers pre-snap defensive adjustment with analysis.

POSITIONADJUSTMENTCOMMENTARY
Defensive LineMake line crash in, make line rush outside, make line crash left, make line crash rightThese adjustments cause the defensive line to rush at angles. Crashing in angles toward the center (use against inside runs), crushing out angles toward line’s edge (use against outside runs), and crashing left or right angles toward that direction.
LinebackersBlitz all linebackers, call off all linebacker blitzes, blitz outside left linebacker, blitz outside right linebackerAudible to a full linebacker blitz if you don’t think your opponent has appropriate protection, call off a blitz if you need linebackers in coverage (any linebacker that was blitzing goes to QB spy so you may want to further adjust his coverage with playmaker), or order a blitz for the left or right linebacker (effective if you expect the play to move in that direction).
SecondaryShift safeties zone coverage to the left, right, up, or downUse these adjustments to aid a stronger side of the field. For instance, if the offense has multiple receivers on one side and just one on the other. Best used when the corner you’re leaving alone is skilled enough to play man-on-man.
Individual Match-UpsBump receiver, play off receiver, double team receiverInstead of forcing all corners into bump and run, you can use these adjustments to cause a specific defender to bump his receiver or play off his receiver. Use double teams against your opponent’s strongest receiver (there must be a safety in zone coverage already to use double team). Be careful though, shifting a safety over to one receiver could leave the middle open for another one.

Defensive Playmaker

Madden 2005 added playmaker abilities to the defense and they’re included here. Like the shifts and adjustments, the playmaker controls are used before the ball has been snapped.

PLAYMAKER ABILITYCONTROLCOMMENTARY
Linebacker Hook Zone or Defensive Back Deep ZoneHighlight player then move right analog stick up.Send a specific defensive back into deep zone coverage to protect against a deep ball. If defensive back is in a deep zone already, it becomes a short zone. Highlight a linebacker to put him in zone coverage in a specific area of the field.
BlitzHighlight player then move right analog stick down.Adjust a defensive player to blitz. Realize this may leave an offensive player open either initially or late in the play. Use with caution.
Quarterback ContainHighlight player then move right analog stick down twice.For example instruct outside linebackers to contain the quarterback. Most important against fast quarterbacks such as Vick or Culpepper.
Quarterback Spy CoverageHighlight player then move right analog stick left.A player in QB Spy coverage follows the quarterback’s movements along the line of scrimmage. It’s another means of defending against the quarterback scramble.
Flat ZoneHighlight player then move right analog stick right.Order a defender into a wider, but flatter zone in a specific area. Useful against an offense abusing crossing or out routes. Press twice for curl zone.

Managing your Defense

The following list provides some general strategies for managing an effective defense.

  • Interception returns for touchdowns are rather easy to accomplish given a couple factors, primarily if a defensive back makes the interception rather than a slower linebacker. If you intercept a pass on defense, head straight for the out of bounds line but obviously don’t go out of bounds. Going straight to the outside will help you avoid the tacklers hanging around the middle of the field. Once you’re to the outside, head straight for the end zone. The computer controlled offensive players aren’t adept at taking the best angle to cut off your interception return. Once you’re past the faster offensive players, it’s likely a touchdown.

Note the offense’s personnel before selecting your defense. You don’t want to be stuck in 3-4 against 5 wide receivers.

  • Don’t call your defense immediately. Wait until you read the offensive personnel so you can decide best how to counter what the offense is going to put onto the field. If you call defenses quickly, an opponent can exploit this by sending out 5 WRs against your 3-4 defense that you keep calling immediately.
  • Obviously even if you attempt to call the perfect counter defense, an unpredictable offense can still keep you on your toes by running out of expected pass formations and passing out of expected run formations. Simply try and make your play calls based on your opponent’s tendencies. If he runs predominantly up the middle with the occasional pass, call a zone defense with a linebacker blitz to the inside to help plug up your opponent’s expected running lanes.
  • Know your defensive personnel. Star cornerbacks like Champ Bailey on the Denver Broncos or Ty Law on the New York Jets have the speed and awareness to play man-to-man coverage against the game’s better receivers. Weaker defenders can be used in zone because there are other defenders in the area to provide assistance.

Shut down your opponent’s top wide receiver with double coverage.

  • If an opponent’s receiver is giving you trouble or he’s simply a star receiver (such as Randy Moss or Marvin Harrison), call double team defensive plays. Find plays with "Double X" or "Double Z" or "Double Wide". The "Z" receiver is usually the primary receiver. A safety will creep up and provide additional coverage against that receiver.
  • If you’re having trouble stopping an outside run, call a corner blitz with other defenders in zone. The blitzing corner can disrupt the ball carrier and the zone defenders maintain their position without following receivers too far downfield. Against the inside run call an inside linebacker blitz with zone defenders along the edges.
  • Choose the defender you wish to control carefully. If you fail to follow the defender’s assignment, your opponent can get a big play. If you want to adjust your defender’s assignment depending on how the play develops then select a "spy" defense where a linebacker is assigned to spy on the quarterback. Instead of spying, you can cover a particular area of the field or follow a receiver in man-to-man to help protect against an opponent’s tendency.

Top Ranked Defensive Linemen

The following chart reveals the top rated defensive linemen in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGISTRTAKAWR
Dwight FreeneyIndianapolis ColtsRE98879787767880
Julius PeppersCarolina PanthersLE97869389797875
Kris JenkinsCarolina PanthersDT97668767939080
Richard SeymourNew England PatriotsRE97708571908888
Michael StrahanNew York GiantsLE96728470878596
La’Roi GloverDallas CowboysDT96647664879195
Patrick KerneyAtlanta FalconsLE95758074838889
John AbrahamNew York JetsRE95808778788482
Jason TaylorMiami DolphinsRE95818878748290
Simeon RiceTampa Bay BuccaneersRE95849478747693
Casey HamptonPittsburgh SteelersDT95576861979582
Shaun RogersDetroit LionsDT95637463959281

Top Ranked Linebackers

The following chart reveals the top rated linebackers in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMPOSITIONOVRSPDACCAGICTHTAKAWR
Ray LewisBaltimore RavensMLB99859186559999
Julian PetersonSan Francisco 49ersLOLB97889088579188
Derrick BrooksTampa Bay BuccaneersROLB97838884659095
Takeo SpikesBuffalo BillsROLB97828583519393
Zach ThomasMiami DolphinsMLB96738074459798
Al WilsonDenver BroncosMLB96878983609490
Keith BullickTennessee TitansROLB95879087658984
Joey PorterPittsburgh SteelersROLB95859182659184
LaVar ArringtonWashington RedskinsROLB95889487548882
Brian UrlacherChicago BearsMLB95879288629387
Jamie SharperSeattle SeahawksLOLB94798279579589
Keith BrookingAtlanta FalconsROLB94808779559289

Top Ranked Defensive Backs

The following chart reveals the top rated defensive backs in Madden 06.

PLAYERTEAMPOSITIONOVRSPDACCJMPCTHTAKAWR
Ed ReedBaltimore RavensSS99939391837095
Champ BaileyDenver BroncosCB98989892776592
Brian DawkinsPhiladelphia EaglesFS98909483658492
Chris McAlisterBaltimore RavensCB97959897686894
Rodney HarrisonNew England PatriotsSS97829070619395
Ty LawNew York JetsCB 96959389766596
Roy WilliamsDallas CowboysSS96859280689085
Lawyer MilloyBuffalo BillsSS96858872648893
Darren SharperMinnesota VikingsFS95868986757490
Nate ClementsBuffalo BillsCB95929496767188

Chapter 6 - Online Strategies

A human opponent can be much more unpredictable than a computer-controlled challenger...or actually a human opponent could be much more predictable cycling through two or three perceived "money" plays that may have abused previous competition. This section offers some general strategies for playing Madden 06 online against human opponents.

  • The era of seeing every opponent select the Falcons is over...mostly. The quarterback vision control essentially nerfed the popular tactic of controlling Vick, running around behind the line of scrimmage (sometimes dropping 20 yards back) and either heaving up a Hail Mary prayer or scrambling once the defense is far enough from the line of scrimmage. Rinse, repeat.
  • Vick is still incredibly fast but has one of the lowest awareness ratings for starting quarterbacks, which makes his vision cone very small. If you are up against Vick, select QB Contain defenses with linebackers or defensive ends in spy mode. Don’t blitz too heavily or Vick could scramble past the blitzes and have fewer defenders to avoid.
  • Even with the increased focus on the quarterback, defense seems to play an even greater role in game success. The quarterback vision control can be unforgiving. Throwing outside the vision cone creates accuracy penalties. A throw could hang in the air allowing defenders to quickly reach the ball. Expect increased interceptions...and interception returns for touchdowns. After a pick, get outside and down the sideline as quickly as possible.
  • Mix up your game to keep your opponent off guard. Pass out of expected run formations and run out of expected pass formations. Run the no huddle offense for a drive. Establish the running game then call a play action pass. Stretch the defense with deep passes after a series of passes to the running back in the flat. A lot of players fall back on the same play over and over again. Learn these formations and your opponent’s tendency and you may score a turnover or a three and out stop.
  • A common online strategy is to elect to kick at the beginning of the game. The thought is you can field your defense, apply some pressure to the offense, and hopefully keep them out of the scoring column. More importantly, though, you can score before halftime then get the ball back on the second half kickoff and apply more pressure with another scoring drive.
  • Obviously it’s important to know the strengths of your chosen team but it’s equally important to know the strengths of your opponent’s team. You may want to double your opponent’s strong receiver or abuse your opponent’s weaker defender. Get the ball to your team’s playmakers and keep the ball out of the hands of your opponent’s playmakers.

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