Madden NFL 11 GameSpot Primer

If you're trying to break into the football craze, or searching for brand new strategies, our Primer Guide will show you the play-by-play fundamentals of Madden NFL 11. We've got a full list of team statistics, tips for both offensive and defensive formations and exciting rundowns from experts.

If you're trying to break into the football craze, or searching for brand new strategies, our Primer Guide will show you the play-by-play fundamentals of Madden NFL 11. We've got a full list of team statistics, tips for both offensive and defensive formations and exciting rundowns from experts.

Here's what you'll find in GameSpot's Madden NFL 11 Primer Guide:

  • Team Stats: Compare and contrast all 32 NFL teams.
  • Offensive Formations and Playbooks: This section features a compilation and tips for offensive formations and team playbooks.
  • Offensive Training Camp: We'll whip you into shape with our offensive strategies.
  • Defensive Formations and Playbooks: This section covers strategies for defensive formations and a list of defensive playbooks.
  • Defensive Training Camp: Is your defense lacking? This section's for you.
  • Xbox 360 Achievements: Learn how to obtain Madden 11's achievements.
  • PlayStation 3 Trophies: Want some of those sweet PS3 trophies? Here you go!

Team Stats

The following table reveals the Madden 11 overall rating for all 32 NFL teams. We've also included the key players in the game's franchise mode.

TEAM OFFENSE DEFENSE OVERALL SEASON CAP KEY PLAYERS
Bears 83 84 85 7-9-0 $35.57m O.Kreutz (C), J.Peppers(RE)
Bengals 87 86 87 10-6-0 $48.11m C.Ochocinco (WR), J.Joseph (CB)
Bills 75 81 79 6-10-0 $30.93m L.Evans (WR), J.Byrd (FS)
Broncos 81 86 85 8-8-0 $40.35m R.Clady (LT), C.Bailey(CB)
Browns 79 83 81 5-11-0 $50.25m J.Thomas (LT), S.Rogers(DT)
Buccaneers 77 82 80 3-13-0 $68.59m K.Winslow (TE), B.Rudd(MLB)
Cardinals 80 85 84 10-6-0 $49.99m L.Fitzgerald (WR),A.Wilson (SS)
Chargers 88 81 85 13-3-0 $38.29m A.Gates (TE), S.Phillips(LOLB)
Chiefs 79 81 81 4-12-0 $63.33m T.Jones (HB), B.Flowers(CB)
Colts 92 86 89 14-2-0 $31.51m P.Manning (QB),D.Freeney (RE)
Cowboys 87 85 86 11-5-0 $23.12m J.Witten (TW), D.Ware(ROLB)
Dolphins 85 81 85 7-9-0 $40.41m B.Marshall (WR),K.Dansby (MLB)
Eagles 81 85 84 11-5-0 $49.01m D.Jackson (WR), T.Cole(RE)
Falcons 88 83 86 9-7-0 $35.12m T.Gonzalez (TE),J.Abraham (RE)
49ers 84 86 85 8-8-0 $29.22m V. Davis (TE), P.Willis(MLB)
Giants 86 81 83 8-8-0 $30.49m G.Snee (RG), J.Tuck (LE)
Jaguars 84 83 84 7-9-0 $43.74m M.Jones-Drew (HB),R.Mathis (CB)
Jets 83 88 87 9-7-0 $29.63m N.Mangold (C), D. Revis(CB)
Lions 82 76 78 2-14-0 $36.42m C.Johnson (WR),J.Peterson (LOLB)
Packers 90 85 88 11-5-0 $26.52m A.Rodgers (QB),C.Woodson (CB)
Panthers 84 81 83 8-8-0 $71.33m J.Gross (LT), J.Beason(MLB)
Patriots 89 83 87 10-6-0 $38.14m T.Brady (QB), V.Wilfork(DT)
Raiders 79 83 83 5-11-0 $31.61m Z.Miller (TE),N.Asomugha (CB)
Rams 82 76 80 1-15-0 $54.38m S.Jackson (HB),J.Laurinaitis (MLB)
Ravens 88 86 87 9-7-0 $35.46m B.Grubbs (LG), E.Reed(FS)
Redskins 85 82 84 4-12-0 $12.05m D.McNabb (QB),L.Fletcher (MLB)
Saints 91 86 89 13-3-0 $21.40m D.Brees (QB), D.Sharper(FS)
Seahawks 80 83 82 5-11-0 $37.14m T.Houshmandzadeh (WR),L.Tatupu (MLB)
Steelers 87 87 88 9-7-0 $28.82m H.Miller (TE),T.Polamalu (SS)
Texans 86 81 84 9-7-0 $39.28m A.Johnson (WR),M.Williams (RE)
Titans 85 82 84 8-8-0 $36.37m C.Johson (HB),C.Finnegan (CB)
Vikings 92 88 90 12-4-0 $3.55m A.Peterson (HB), J.Allen(RE)

Offensive Formations

This section covers Madden 11 offensive formations and packages and provides details on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Offensive Formations and Packages

The list below provides tips on using each offensive formation based on situational decisions and team strategies.

  • Goal Line: Every team playbook includes this formation: it's a short yardage formation, either two yards or under to go for a first down or on the opposing team's goal line. The quarterback sneak from goal line is generally effective and usually capable of picking up a couple yards at least; snap the ball quickly (don't let an opposing defense set up and plug gaps) and push forward and cover up the ball. Deceptive passing or play-action passing from goal line can be effective if the defense isn't on a heavy blitz.
  • I Form: This is a versatile formation offering solid run plays as well as variations for the short-to-medium passing game. Use I-Form for teams with a strong blocking fullback, such as Cincinnati or Atlanta. You can also use the Dual HB package to insert your team's second RB into the fullback position (great for teams like New Orleans, Carolina, Jacksonville, and others with a couple solid ball carriers) and use run or pass plays (sending the backs into the flat or on medium passing routes).
  • Strong, Weak: These formations are similar to I Form but the fullback is offset to the strong (side of the line of scrimmage with the tight end) or weak (side of the line of scrimmage without the tight end). Consider the same strategies as I Form-teams with skilled Fullbacks or using two running backs in a run or pass situation. Note that these formations are referred to as Strong I and Weak I in the default playbooks.
  • Far, Near: These formations are similar to Strong and Weak but the fullback is positioned alongside the running back. Far and Near aren't particularly common; find them in Seattle's playbook (or the default West Coast playbook). Use these formations as you would with Strong, Weak, and I Form-teams with strong Fullbacks or in two RB sets.
  • Split: The two backs are lined up split behind the quarterback. The backs can reach the flat quickly for passing situations. The base formation uses a running back and fullback but you can use packages to insert a second running back to make it difficult for the defense to determine where you're going with the ball on a short passing play.
  • Full House and Jumbo T: This formation is another rare set seen in Green Bay's playbook. The Full House features three backs behind the quarterback. You can use packages to alter the personnel (exchanging running backs for Fullbacks for instance). The extra backs can provide blocking or use them in the passing game. It's also useful to disguise the direction of your run and who will be the runner given the number of options. Find Jumbo T in the "Run Heavy" playbook, which also features several variations of Full House. Jumbo T is similar to Full House with three backs; however, the three backs are lined perpendicular to the quarterback.
  • Singleback: Unlike previous formations, there's only one back lined up behind the quarterback. This is a common, yet extremely versatile formation. For run situations you can call singleback variations that include additional tight ends for blocking or in passing situations call singleback variations with more receivers. For run situations, singleback can be stronger for teams without a skilled fullback but better depth at the tight end position.
  • Gun, Rifle, Shotgun: This is generally a passing formation: the quarterback lines up off the center providing extra time to find opening receivers before facing the opposing rush. Gun, or Shotgun, can be a deceptive run formation, especially if you've called a formation with four receivers as defenses will usually select dime coverage to protect against the pass.

After selecting a formation, you can use package substitutions to further alter a formation's positioning and personnel. You can substitute a fullback for a second running back, move your weapon-laden WR around the formation into the slot or swap positions with the second receiver; adjust a star tight end into the slot; or place a Hands running back into the slot or wideout position. The list below covers the most common packages and lists tips for using each.

  • Dual HB: For formations with two backs, such as I Form, Strong, Weak, Far, Near, and Shotgun 2RB, this package allows you to substitute your team's second running back in for the starting fullback. Use this package to capitalize on a team with multiple skilled running backs, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars (Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew). You can run the second running back from fullback plays or use the package in passing plays where both backs offer outlet options in the flat or short-to-medium passing game.
  • Jumbo Backfield: Essentially the opposite of Dual HB-this package substitutes your running back for the fullback. This package can be useful in short yardage situations and for teams with good Fullbacks.
  • 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).
  • HB Slot and HB Wideout: If your selected team has a great pass-catching running back (such as Brian Westbrook of Philadelphia and Reggie Bush of New Orleans), use this package to position your starting running back into the slot or wideout position. This can create some good speed mismatches against a defense's third corner in the slot as well as open up new passing routes for your skilled running back in either the slot or wideout position.
  • Strong Slot: Substitutes your best receiver into the slot position. Strong Slot is excellent for opening new routes for a weapon-laden receiver and putting that receiver up against new defenders-possibly a mismatch against a safety or even a linebacker. Move receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, or Randy Moss around the field to give your star pass catcher more route options.
  • TE Slot: Substitutes your tight end into the slot position. Use this package if your team has a good receiving tight end (Jason Witten of Dallas, Antonio Gates of San Diego, Tony Gonzalez of Kansas City, Todd Heap of Baltimore, or Dallas Clark of Indianapolis) 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. You can use this formation in run plays using the tight end to block or even in a short passing game to open up unique passing routes for teams with skilled tight ends.
  • WR Strong, WR Strong Weak, and WR Bunch: Places your top receivers on the strong side of the formation. In Strong Weak, places your best two receivers on the same side in a multiple receiver set-for instance in a five receiver set. 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.
  • WR HB and WR FB: Move your top wide receiver into the running back or fullback position. This can be great for creating mismatches and hitting a speedy receiver on swing passes out of the backfield.
  • Patriot: Insert a linebacker on a Goal Line formation. Think Mike Vrabel of the New England Patriots.
  • Heavy: A linemen subs for a tight end, optimum for extra blocking in lead blocker mode.
  • Miami: On goal line, substitutes your receiver for a tight end and a Defensive Line man for your tight end.

Offensive Training Camp

This section focuses on the offensive side of the ball.

Getting Started: Setting Audibles

By: Daniel Grundei

One of the most frustrating things about Madden is setting your audibles before each game. This is especially frustrating when you play online, and you have to pause the game, and set your audibles while you opponent does the same. This can take several minutes, and can be annoying for both you and your opponent. Luckily, there is a way to set your audibles to your profile. From past online experience, I'd imagine only about 10% of people take advantage of this technique. This should be a much higher number! If you don't like wasting your time on audibles, follow the instructions below.

Proceed to the main Madden menu. To set your audibles, move down to the "My Madden" tab. After clicking on the tab, you want to move down to the "Strategy" tab. Now you can see that there are options for your audibles. Click the "Offensive Audibles" tab. You can actually set both Offensive and Defensive Audibles from here. Now that you're in the Offensive Audible tab, make sure you pick the playbook that you typically use. These audibles will only be set if you use that particular playbook during the game. So if you always use the Chicago Bears playbook, for instance, you will need to select that particular playbook and click on it.

Now you can set five audibles to correspond to the Y, A, X, RB, and LB buttons (using an Xbox 360 as the example). When you're done setting your offensive audibles, you can click the RB button to set your defensive audibles. When you're finished, simply save your settings. Whenever you play a game, regardless of what team you choose, you won't have to waste time setting your audibles anymore. Just remember it's tied to the playbook!

Leaning to Run: FB Dives

By: Kyle Cooper

Fullback dives were the most effective runs in Madden last season and they'll be the most effective runs in Madden this season. The fact remains that these runs simply develop so much quicker than every other run in the game. Some fullback dives are faster than others, but the ones that are the quickest to develop are by far the most difficult runs to stop in the game.

Tip: Zone defenses are one of the best times to utilize a running back draw play. The reason zones are perfect for draws is because the defenders begin retreating away from the ball carrier because they anticipate that the play is a pass. The delayed handoff is what fakes out the defense and allows you to pick up some easy yardage. Opponents that back more defenders into coverage will be most susceptible to the draw play.

In this example, we've chosen to use a split back formation on the Washington Redskins to demonstrate the effective of the fullback dive. On these particular runs you don't need a lead blocker because they develop so quickly. Redskin running back Clinton Portis goes in motion and quarterback Jason Campbell prepares to receive the snap. Even if our opponent knows that the fullback dive is coming it is still extremely difficult to stop for as loss. The worst result we could possible ever see is a loss of one yard or no gain because the exchange from the quarterback is so quick and so close to the line of scrimmage-a big key to the running game.

In the FB Dive play, the fullback receiving the ball just three yards shy of the line of scrimmage. The holes in the Offensive Line may look easily exploitable, but these runs actually have very good protection up front and losses on the play rarely ever happen. Tight end Chris Cooley (who can be packaged in at fullback and become the ball carrier) crosses the line of scrimmage as the defenders are engaged with our linemen. In our example, we already have at least five yards on the play and the defense is just now beginning to close in. Cooley's finally taken down to the ground after a gain of 11 yards on the play.

Another quick developing fullback dive can be found in the Weak formation. This time we're going to run the play with our normal fullback Mike Sellers, despite him being much slower than Cooley. The snap is taken and this time the exchange takes place just two yards deep in the backfield. It's almost impossible to lose yardage when running this particular play.

Stay in tight behind the linemen as continue to push forward for extra yardage. In our example, we slide off our linemen with Sellers and he's finally taken down after a gain of almost five yards on the play.

There's no doubt that the fullback dive should be a part of every single Madden player's offense. There simply aren't that many runs in the game that develop as quickly, or are as consistent. When you figure out which formations you'll be using this season be sure to make sure that there's at least one fullback dive available to you.

Learning to Run: Tosses

By: Kyle Cooper

Tosses and sweeps are a great way to provide your running back with a little bit of freedom in the backfield. Once your runner receives the pitch you can look to cut it up field at any point-good stick skill is certainly a plus so you can maneuver around blockers or dodge an incoming tackler. You'll want to use tosses and sweeps with a running back that has exceptional speed because you never know when a defender might get instant penetration into the backfield. Let's take a look an example.

To get the best results when using a toss or a sweep you may want to call the play out of a Twin WR set. Calling a toss out of a Twin WR set will open up the opposite side of the field if the opponent is in man-to-man defense.

Tip:Counter running plays are some of the most dangerous for the offense and defense. The reason it's dangerous for the offense to use counters is because there's a risk of losing significant yardage in the backfield if the defense gets penetration. However, counters are also dangerous for the defense because these runs provide some of the best chances for breaking a long run off for six.

In our example, the Atlanta Falcons have seven defenders in the box-but that's exactly what we want because we know that this play is headed for the outside. New Orleans' quarterback Drew Brees pitches the ball out wide to running back Reggie Bush, one of the fastest running backs available in Madden 11. Bush hauls in the easy pitch and is already on his way up the field with a lead blocker clearing the path in front. Bush uses his great speed to quickly get to the line of scrimmage while the linemen continues to look to make a block downfield. Bush is finally dragged down after an easy gain of five yards on the play.

Sweeps and tosses are good choices if you have a speedy running back and you're having trouble finding room up the middle of the field. However, there's always a risk that you could lose yardage on these types of runs because they start so deep in the backfield. If you feel that you've got the vision and the stick control to succeed with sweeps and tosses, then incorporate them into your game this season.

Advanced Running Techniques: Flipping Runs

By: Kyle Cooper

Flipping your running plays is a great way to completely change the direction of your offensive attack without letting your opponent in on the adjustment. Of course, the quarterback always stands up and gives a gesture when the call is made on the field; however, since you can have your quarterback make the gesture even if you aren't really flipping the play, it's still difficult for your opponent to prepare. Let's take a look at an example on flipping your running play.

We've called for a toss to the running back out of the huddle. However, we want to see if our opponent is going to try to make any adjustments before the play. It's important to read the defense and make an educated decision on the field even when you've called a running play. If your opponent is consistently overloading one side of the Offensive Line, then make him pay by pulling off a big run to the other side of the field.

Tip: Here are some tips for running Goal Line on the five yard line and under to get a touchdown. Run a Strong Toss whenever you spot the opponent's corners sliding to the middle of the field (our tight end can seal the block). QB Sneaks are extremely effective, especially in two yards or under. You could even run a QB Sneak multiple times from the four or three and get in but remember that damaging hits to your quarterback could cause injury or a fumble. Consider a FB Dive instead.

Let's say we notice our opponent manually moving several players over toward the tight end side, so we flip the play back to the other side. To make this change flick the right analog stick to the left before the snap. If we decided that we wanted to run the play back to the right all we have to do is flick the right analog stick back to the right.

After our opponent has completely setup his defense, the commitment could be made on the right side of the Offensive Line. With far less defenders on the left side, the decision on where to run the football is easy! In our example, Buffalo Bills' quarterback J.P. Losman swings the ball out wide to running back Marshawn Lynch with a wall of blockers in front. A couple perfect blocks from our linemen, combined with a sweet block in the back, allows us to get to the outside and using a flipped run, we totally avoided the defense's stacked front and his prediction on where the run was going.

Advanced Running Techniques: Controlling a Lead Blocker

By: Kyle Cooper

Believe it or not, lead blocking control can have significant benefits when used in certain situations. In this tip, we're going to take a look at two plays in particular where this feature turned a worthless play into a positive gain. We don't see this feature changing the way that people play Madden, but it's certainly entertaining and will have some value in some offensive schemes.

In our example, we've come out of the huddle with the Chicago Bears having called the HB Draw out of a shotgun formation to try to trick our opponent. As soon as quarterback Rex Grossman takes the snap we notice the weak defensive tackle coming off the line unblocked. The weak defensive tackle is already right in the face of our running back and we haven't even had a chance to get started. Our running back is dropped in the backfield for a big loss on the play. Why did that happen you ask? Well, the blocking scheme on this particular play typically allows the weak defensive tackle to come free every time when the opponent has pinched in his Defensive Line.

We could switch to another play, but we like the fact that our opponent is pinching his line because we think we might be able to get to the outside and turn this into an even bigger gain. To counter the unblocked defensive tackle we use the lead blocking control to take over the left guard. To make this change we cycle over to the player then press (360 - LB / PS3 - L1) before the snap. Our goal after the snap is to make sure that this lineman gets picked up so we can get up field.

Tip: The running back is the most dynamic player on the field in Madden. It's very important to get your running back involved in your passing game early and often. Play action passes, screens, flat routes, and short routes over the middle make the running back very dangerous. The running back is often the outlet or dump-down pass on other players where the first read is deeper downfield.

The computer controls the running back as soon as the play begins. However after we've secured a block on the weak defensive tackle we want to click back over the take control of the running back by pressing (360 - B / PS3 -O) on the controller. In our example, the play begins and we immediately run right into the weak defensive tackle. Next, we click back to the running back to try to find an opening in the line. We've already got back to the line of scrimmage, so the lead blocking control certainly helped out more than the last time we ran this play. We're able to squirm through a tight hole in the line to pick up a few yards just before getting hit. The end result on the play this time is a gain of six yards. On this particular play the different between using the lead blocking control and not using it was nine yards.

In this example, we've chosen to run a counter to the backside of the Offensive Line. This counter calls for the right guard to vacate his area and pull across the field to help make a lead block for the runner. Unfortunately, as you're about to see we need someone to help pick up the right guard's vacated area before we can even worry about following his lead block!

In our example, the play begins and our right guard moves in front of the quarterback across the field to try to lead the way for our runner. What's more important right now is the fact that the strong defensive tackle has begun attacking the vacated area. Our running back has just taken the ball as the defensive tackle closes in for the hit in the backfield. The defensive tackle blows this play up before it even got started.

Sometimes you don't have to worry about picking up the pressure, but simply just controlling someone else on the line to change the assignments. We've run this play enough to know that if we use the lead blocking control to take over the center the right tackle will actually slide over and pick up that pesky defensive tackle that continues to shoot the gap. Being able to control the center allows us to add yet another lead blocker without having to worry about getting hit in the backfield again.

The right tackle shuts down the defensive tackle as we switch back over to the running back to take control of him. The two linemen continue moving up the field as our fullback applies the first block on a defender. Perfect blocking allows us to get through the hole easily and try to turn this into a nice gain. Our running back get four yards up the field before he's approached by the a defender. A net gain of seven yards is well worth using the Lead Blocking Control on this play.

The Lead Blocking Control is a feature that is proven to be successful in certain situations. In fact, if somebody created an entire offensive scheme around this feature we'd imagine that it'd be pretty tough to stop. However, we just don't see that kind of dedication occuring with this feature. Expect to see it used sparingly, but unfortunately most people will probably only try it once and then quit.

Formation Audibles

By: Daniel Grundei

For those new to the game, formation audibles were on the XBox and PS2 version of Madden a few years ago, but never were added to the next-generation consoles until last year's edition. Formation audibles are a technique that allows for each playbook to have specific audibles for each formation, which can be called at the line of scrimmage. These audibles have some level of consistency, and are very useful when putting together an offensive scheme. Let's take a look at how this works.

In our example, we see that Tampa Bay has come out of the huddle in the Singleback Snugs formation. We use the Xbox 360 controls in our example. Load this up in practice mode and check out the play art that corresponds to each formation audible to see how it switches up your called play.

  • Press X + right on the right analog stick: For most formations, the right formation audible switches the play to a standard pass play.
  • Press X + down on the right analog stick: For most formations, the down formation audible switches the play to a running play.
  • Press X + left on the right analog stick: For most formations, the left formation audible switches the play to a play action play.
  • Press X + up on the right analog stick: For most formations, the up formation audible switches the play to a deep pass play.

While every formation is slightly different, you can be fairly confident that when you use your formation audibles, you're going to have a play action pass, a run, and two passes. By taking advantage of these formation audibles, you can really open up your playbook. And don't worry if you haven't memorized the formation audibles. With the addition of bluff play art, you can check your real play art on the field, and still disguise it from the defense.

Utilizing Player Packages to Create Mismatches

By: Daniel Grundei

Over the years, EA Sports has consistently tried to make Madden as much of a simulation as possible. However, that can be difficult when users continue to manipulate the game and play it in ways that weren't intended! One main obstacle EA has dealt with has been gamers placing players at odd positions. For instance, in Madden 03, users used to put Wide Receivers in at quarterback all game long, simply because the Wide Receivers were fast. EA countered by limiting the spots on the field that players can play. In an effort to give users more options, EA added player packages, which put players in different positions on the field. With these packages, there is quite a bit of flexibility. Here's how it works.

Have you ever wanted to add your Linebackers to your goal line package? The New England Patriots are famous for doing this, and EA has added a "Patriot" package to the Goal Line formation this year. To switch packages, simply scroll through them with the LB / RB buttons. The "Patriot" package places a linebacker in at fullback and at tight end.

Tip: Have you ever been playing Madden and wondered what blue routes on the play meant? Okay, so you know that the blue routes are delayed routes. A delayed route is one in which the receiver stays in to block initially, and then goes out for a route. The advantage of this is it can buy the quarterback extra time against the blitz; it can give zones time to drop back to create space for routes; or it can simply trick the defender into leaving the receiver alone.

Patriots' linebacker Mike Vrabel is positioned at tight end. In our example, he runs a corner route-and as you've seen on Sundays, can be amazing at using his big body to get open in the endzone. Vrabel slips toward the sideline and with a nice touch pass from Brady, Vrabel scores a touchdown. However, this isn't the only package that can be used in Madden. Take a look at another example of how to utilize packages.

In this example, the Patriots are calling the Shotgun Split Slot formation, with the "WR FB" package. This puts your top wide receiver in at the fullback spot. In our example, this puts speedy Randy Moss lined up as the fullback. This can create a match-up problem as likely a linebacker will be matched up on Moss-a huge speed mismatch. Call a play that sends Moss into the flat. In this example, the play starts and Moss breaks toward the sideline. Brady completes an easy reception to Moss, which goes for a nice gain.

As you can see, packages can be utilized in many different ways in Madden. Examples of other packages are added extra Offensive Linemen, for running situations, or a backup quarterback put in, for situations where you might want to run a QB Draw (for instance, on Seattle where the backup is a Speed QB). There are literally hundreds of packages in Madden 11. Make sure to browse the packages in your playbook to see if you can expand your offense.

Pick up the Blitz:Offensive Line Slide Protection

By: Daniel Grundei

If you've every played Madden in the past, you know the defense can bring serious pressure-Madden 11 is no different. Slide Protection is a technique that tells the Offensive Line where to go after the snap of the ball. Think Peyton Manning, pre-snap, telling the Offensive Linemen who to block. The best part is that slide protection actually works. Let's take a look at a few examples of how you can incorporate Slide Protection into your offensive scheme.

In our example, we're controlling the Cleveland Browns against the Baltimore Ravens. Now, the Baltimore Ravens are known for their unique blitz packages. In our example, the Ravens' have overloaded the right side of the line of scrimmage.

As the ball is snapped, the defense overloads the right side of the line. While the Offensive Line tries to react, they simply can't get over in time. Browns' quarterback Derek Anderson nearly gets his head ripped off (and wishes Brady Quinn was in on this snap).

To counter the defensive overload, we're going to use the Slide Protection. To do this, press the left rigger then move right on the left analog stick. You can see the Offensive Line blocking angles are now pointing to the right. In addition, you can see the WR, Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs, has a blocking angle to the right. When you call for slide protection, it makes all blockers slide. The WR will now work with the Offensive Line to create a pocket.

In our example, the Ravens' defense lines up again in an overloaded set. We anticipated the pressure coming from the right side, so we've called for slide protection to the right. Once the ball is snapped, the Offensive Line moves to the right to pick up defenders. The line does a great job of picking up the pressure, giving Derek Anderson the time needed to look down field and pick up a big gain.

Tip: Have you ever wanted to tell your receiver to change his route in the middle of the play? Now you can. By utilizing the playmaker feature, you can tell a receiver to change directions while the play is happening. It's not always as easy as it sounds: you can only playmaker one receiver at a time and since there could be five receivers at a time, it can be confusing. Generally, you're going to playmaker the closest receiver. Use the right analog stick during the play to direct the closest receiver.

Now let's take a look at another example of how to effectively use a blocking scheme to direct blockers. In this example we have both Wide Receivers running slant routes. Currently, the running back is going to the flats and the fullback has a standard blocking angle.

However, by keeping our backs in to block, they take a different blocking angle than usual: the running back blocks to the left and the fullback blocks to the right. Here's how it works: if the receiver (in this case the running back and fullback) is directly behind the center, and you call for a block (Y + Left Trigger / Right Trigger) and the receiver will block to the left / right. This can be very useful when trying to pick up pressure if you know where it's coming from.

In our example, let's take a look at what happens after the snap. Just as the ball is snapped, both backs move to the outside. This, coupled with slide protection down (makes the Offensive Line pinch), creates a very tight pocket, giving the quarterback plenty of time to make a throw. Again, the quarterback has all day to throw the ball. Both slant routes are open, and the quarterback gets to choose which side he wants to throw. Making sure you have time to throw the ball is essential to a pass play's success. Using slide protection, we created the time needed to move the chains.

In this example, we're going to show you how the slide protection can be effective in combination with play action passes. Play action plays can be very effective, but if the defense sniffs out the play action, this can often lead to a sack.

Let's take a look at how this play action play develops without the benefit of slide protection. The defense doesn't bite on the play action, and they come around the outside to put pressure on the QB. Derek Anderson again gets sacked. Now, let's examine how this play develops with slide protection.

By hitting left trigger then right on the left analog stick, we now have our blockers sliding to the right. Immediately after the snap, all the Offensive Line shift to the right. With the entire Offensive Line sliding together, it helps close gaps in the line, and creates great blocking. When Browns' quarterback Anderson does complete the play action fake, the entire defensive pass rush has been neutralized. In addition, the running back that performed the play action fake is now going out on a pass pattern while the defender responsible for guarding him is stuck in the middle of the Offensive Line because of our slide protection.

Here are the Offensive Line Slide Protection shifts.

  • Slide Protect Left: Shift blockers to the left.
  • Slide Protect Right: Shift blockers to the right.
  • Slide Protect Up: Make line more aggressive.
  • Slide Protect Down: Pinch Offensive Line to pick up middle pressure.

Make sure to take advantage of the Slide Protection feature. Slide protection can help pick up the blitz, create passing angles, and shore up play action blocking. But beware: if you slide protect in the wrong direction, you might see more pressure than you expected!

Create New Plays on the Fly

By: Daniel Grundei

Hot routes have been in Madden for many years. A hot route is when you tell your receiver at the line of scrimmage to run a different route than originally called. In Madden 11, it's not just hot routes that you're going to need to know how to perform. EA Sports has added "Smart Routes" to this year's game. A smart route tells the receiver to make sure their route goes just past the first down marker. For instance, it's 3rd down and 10 and your receiver is running a seven-yard curl. What good is a seven-yard curl on 3rd down and 10? By calling for a smart route, the receiver will now run a 10-yard curl-much more useful in the situation!

Now that you know what hot and smart routes are, let's take a look at the different options to use them and even combine them if needed. For all of these examples, we've kept everyone back to block, simply to keep those players out of the way. That is everyone except for Indianapolis Colts' wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Let's go over the different routes you can perform.

  • Push "Y" then the receiver icon (for instance, "X") then up on the left analog stick: the receiver performs a streak route. That's "Y" (trigger hot route) + X (receiver icon) + up (left analog stick).
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + down (left analog stick) = a curl route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (left analog stick) = an out route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (left analog stick) = an in route. Note that the in and out routes are dependent on which side of the field you're currently on. So if Reggie Wayne is on the right side of the field, this button sequence would make Wayne do the same route but instead it's considered an out route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + up (right analog stick) = fade route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (right analog stick) = slant out route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (right analog stick) = slant in route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + down (right analog stick) = drag route.

Now here's where things get a little trick yet very interesting. We're going to combine hot routes and smart routes to show you how powerful these can be. In this example, first call for a slant out route: "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (right analog stick). Then call for a smart route: "Y" (trigger hot routes) + "X" (receiver icon) + click on the right analog stick. The result is a deeper version of the slant out! Here are some examples:

  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (right analog stick) = slant inside + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep slant inside.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + down (left analog stick) = curl route + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep curl route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (left analog stick) = in route + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep in route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (left analog stick) = out route + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep out route.

As you can see, there are several options when it comes to changing routes at the line of scrimmage. The addition of the smart route gives you more control over what happens on the field. You must remember that when it comes to smart routes, the route will change depending on the first down marker. If it's 2nd down and 16, the smart route will be deeper than a 3rd down and three play. Experiment with smart routes and hot routes in practice mode and make sure you understand how to use them. You never know when the game is going to come down to converting a 4th and 12!

Audible to Create Mismatches

By: Daniel Grundei

Audibles have always been a part of Madden. Sometimes, audibles can put player in positions they don't traditionally play and often this leads to quite an advantage for the offense. Some gamers will call this a Madden 11 cheat, but it's just the nature of the Madden gameplay. Let's take a look at how you can use a strategic audible to place intense pressure on the defense.

The New England Patriot offense comes out in a Goal Line formation with Randy Moss lined up as the outside tight end. Accomplish this with the "WR Wing" package. The defense has countered by calling a Goal Line formation and Jam Cover 1 defense.

Tip: Probably the most important factor to running a good offense is being able to tell what the defensive coverage-man or zone-is before the snap. Here are a few techniques. Are defenders lined up directly across your receiver or off to the side then slide in front? If they start lined up directly, it's man coverage; if they slide in, it's zone. Call a bunch formation and watch the differences. Another way to tell is to use motion. If the defender follows the receiver all the way across to the other side of the line, it's man. You can also try flipping the play at the line-if the defenders follow their man, it's man coverage. Otherwise, it's zone.

Tom Brady recognizes the potential mismatch and audibles to a Gun formation. To do this, simply hit the X button and then call your audible. You need to make sure this play is set in your audibles before the play. Now let's see what happens to dynamic receiver Randy Moss. He is still lined up as a tight end and has a linebacker guarding him! Most defensive backs can't keep up with Randy Moss, so it's obvious that no linebacker is going to run with Moss downfield.

The key to utilizing your audibles is to know what you want to accomplish on offense and know how to attack different kinds of defense. In this example, we came out in a Goal Line play then audibled to the Gun formation. If the defense comes out in a passing defense, simply run the ball out of Goal Line. If the defense comes out in a heavy run stopping defense, audible to Gun. As a good offensive Madden gamer, you need to dictate the flow of play to the defense. Audibles are a great way to accomplish this.

Relearning to Throw the Deep Ball

By: Daniel Grundei

You drop back to pass and you see the receiver get behind the cornerback by a step. You execute an easy tap of the button to perform a deep lob 40 yards downfield. The receiver catches the ball in stride for a touchdown! That was the Madden of the past-not Madden 11. You can still go deep, but it's much more difficult.

The deep ball mechanics have changed dramatically. This is something that every Madden gamer should take note of and make sure to understand. We're going to explain how the deep ball works and how best to utilize the deep throw. To do this, we're going to break down four different types of deep throws. Then we'll explain why two of the throws work and two don't. It doesn't matter how experienced of a Madden player you are-you need to understand this tip!

Each of the throws in this example will be performed against a Man Cover 2 defense. In our example, we've used the Detroit Lions. We're also going to roll out in each example, simply to buy us enough time to throw deep. In our first example, Kitna sees Calvin Johnson behind the defense and decides to attempt a deep throw. However, Kitna's feet aren't set. He's trying to throw on the run, and that just isn't a good idea this year!

The throw is well under thrown, and although Johnson was behind the defense, the defender recovered to make the interception. Why was this an interception? It's all about the quarterback mechanics. This throw should never have been attempted. You need to make sure your quarterback has time to set his feet and launch the ball deep downfield. But it's not all about setting your feet. You need to understand the nuances of Madden 11. Take a look at the next example.

In our next example, we attempt a more traditional deep Madden lob. In years past, if you see the receiver get behind the defense, simply tap the receiver icon, and the ball lobs deep downfield to the streaking receiver. The ball typically hits the receiver in stride for a touchdown. EA wanted to change the deep ball and have. First, take note of the quarterback's mechanics. When tossing the deep ball, the quarterback puts his entire body into the throw. The motion takes longer to perform and means if you get hit while the throw is being made, the throw is going to be short. Make sure you do in fact have time to throw the ball deep.

In our example, Detroit Lions' wide receiver Calvin Johnson is behind both the defenders. Quarterback Jon Kitna performs the deep lob-tapping the receiver icon button. The longer you press the receiver icon, the more of a bullet pass it becomes. Calvin Johnson has a step on both defenders. If the ball is thrown ahead of Johnson, this is a touchdown, right? While the ball is in the air, the defenders catch up to Johnson. The amazing thing about this is that both defenders are several speed points slower than Johnson. Shouldn't Johnson be the one pulling away? Now the defenders have both run past the receiver by two yards. The defense tracks the deep lob in an amazing way this year!

Not only did the defense get behind the receiver. They had time to strafe up and prepare to catch the pass. Johnson has very little chance against two defenders facing the ball. Why did we get this result? The deep lob has been changed. If you let you receiver get downfield far enough to beat the safety, you simply can't use the deep lob. You can lob the ball if the defense is playing bump and run coverage, with no safety help over the top. But that lob has to come within the first twenty yards or so. After that, the lob doesn't work. So what type of deep ball will work?

Tip: For years Michael Vick was the most used, or should I say overused, player in Madden. His mobility gave the offensive team more options and made it easier to execute a gameplan. Often times, though, first time Madden players pick a mobile quarterback and simply try to run around to buy time. It's true, but it's short-sighted. There are several benefits, including the able to create better passing angles, scramble for yardage, and execute better play action passes. But usually the mobile quarterbacks lack the accuracy or throwing power of pocket passers. Also, when scrambling for yardage, slide! Don't take an unnecessary hit.

This pass isn't a "deep'" pass per se. The key here is you see that the receiver has a step on the defense. But when you let the receiver get more than about 35 yards downfield, the quarterback mechanics change. Instead of the deep lob, let's take another example with a 30-yard bullet pass. Instead of tapping the button, we'll hold down the receiver icon button when making the throw.

When performing this pass, Detroit Lions' quarterback Jon Kitna starts his motion and steps into his throw. Kitna's hips don't drop and it's a very compact movement. It's a qiuck release with great mechanics. Jon Kitna gets this animation because of the user's stick work to face Kitna perfectly to the line of scrimmage and because of the receiver's location on the field. When not going into the full deep ball mechanics, the quarterback simply can't throw any further, so the timing of this throw is critical. Now let's take a look at the deepest bullet pass.

In our example, Jon Kitna is ready to throw the ball deep with no defenders around him. This is important because this pass takes some time to perform. Watch the mechanics closely. Also, remember, this isn't a deep lob-it's a deep bullet. To perform this, hold down on the receiver button.

Try it in practice and watch Kitna's mechanics. The quarterback makes his first move toward the line of scrimmage. He's gearing up to throw the ball deep. Now his feet are back together-he makes a slide step to get his lower body into the throw. Now notice how Kitna drops his back shoulder and bends his back knee. He wants to leverage his entire body to get the ball as deep as possible. The motion that Kitna is making really allows him to heave the ball downfield. Notice he's ready to release the ball, but it much lower than he was for the shorter version of the deep pass. He finally releases the ball. How far did he throw it? A little farther than the previous example!

It's important to understand what throws you can make and which throws you can't make. The throwing mechanics have changed this year enough that some throws that you've made in the past simply aren't going to work this year. With the defense able to react so much faster, one bad pass is likely going to be an interception and not just a deflected pass. Work on your deep passing game in practice mode before risking the deep ball in live game action.

Controlling the Receiver During the Play

By: Daniel Grundei

Controlling the receiver during the play can be one of the most fun things to do in Madden 11. Most gamers haven't taken full advantage of this technique, but there are strategies that can make this very effective. If you've ever been frustrated at watching your receiver run bad routes or not get off the bump, now you can take control of the receiver and do it yourself!

In order to take control of your receiver before the snap, you will need to cycle to the receiver and click the "LB" button. The ring around the receiver will now turn light blue. For this example, put the receiver in motion and we'll show you how to create a very unique route. Snap the ball just as the receiver nears the tight end on that side of the field.

After the ball has been snapped, immediately run back and to the left with the receiver. Check out the receiver's position now. You will never get bumped if you're not moving toward the line! Even better, the defender is trying to chase the receiver around your Offensive Line's right tackle.

We run across the line of scrimmage and behind the line. Our Offensive Line picks up the defender guarding the receiver and pancakes him! Now our wide receiver is running wide open on the opposite side of the line. In our example, Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning swings the ball to Marvin Harrison. This is done because as we get open, we hit the "A" button to call for the ball. This action triggers the throw by Peyton Manning.

It is highly recommended to only do this technique with a quarterback with very high awareness. The reason for this is if you don't get open quickly enough, the quarterback will throw the ball. You don't want a rookie quarterback out there making decisions to throw into coverage! A quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady with high awareness will rarely make throws into coverage. Also, make sure the route you want to run is short. Sit in soft spots against zone coverage and run away from man-to-man coverage. This technique takes some practice, but is very fun to execute during the game.

Defensive Formations and Playbooks

This section provides coverage of Madden 08's defensive formations and playbooks and provides tips on using defensive shifts and playmaker modes to stop the opposition's offense.

Defensive Formations and Packages

The table below covers all formations, reveals the personnel and packages, and offers some tips on when and when not to use them.

FORMATIONDESCRIPTIONPACKAGESADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
Goal LineRun prevent in short yardage situations, specifically third or fourth and short or on the goal line.Safety Swap, Jumbo, 3 DT, Strong, LB EndsPacked defense to prevent the short run. There are a lot of tacklers near the line of scrimmage.Audible to another defense if the offense changes formation. So many defenders near the line can be disastrous if a running back breaks through.
4-3 NormalFour Defensive Linemen, three Linebackers, four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB Flip, DE FlipA balanced run and pass defense. Good against inside runs and short to medium passing.Avoid using against four or more receiver sets (even three is risky). Blitzing Linebackers can leave slants and outside runs open.
4-3 Over, UnderMoves an outer linebacker to the line for five Defensive Linemen, two Linebackers, and four defensive backs (Over and Under refers to different sides of the line).CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB Flip, DE Flip Increased pass rush possibilities. Protect against inside and outside runs.Vulnerable to the passing game and fewer Linebackers in the middle could mean fewer tacklers if the back breaks the line.
3-4 NormalThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubA balanced run and pass defense. Defends outside runs and flat passes.Softer pass rush, though more blitz variation with extra Linebackers. Vulnerable to multiple receiver sets.
3-4 Over, UnderThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. An outside linebacker tightens up the edge of the line (Over and Under refers to different sides of the line).CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubIncreased pass rush with linebacker at the line.Fewer Linebackers defending the short passes. Vulnerable to multiple receiver sets.
3-4 SolidThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. Both outside Linebackers crowd the line.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubIncreased pass rush opportunities and disguised blitzing. Stuff the run with increased penetration.Vulnerable to quick passes if outside Linebackers blitz. Avoid against multiple receiver sets.
3-4 EvenThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. Outside Linebackers crowd the line and middle Linebackers tighten up.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, SS at LBBalanced run stoppage for inside and outside runs.Tighter formation could be vulnerable to the pass.
3-4 StackThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. Resembles a 4-3 in alignment.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubA 4-3 look for your excellent Linebackers. Variation in pass rushing for fast outside Linebackers.Avoid using against heavy passing situations.
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 4-3 but safety provides extra run stopping support. Pressuring defense.Vulnerable to deep passes with just one safety back. Avoid using against heavy passing situations and multiple receiver sets.
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 and pressure.Weak pass defense. Avoid using against multiple receiver sets.
Nickel NormalFour Defensive Linemen, two Linebackers, five defensive backs.Strong Nickel, Strong Shift, CB Swap, Safety Swap, LOLB Right, LOLB Left, LB Swap, Big NickelAn 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.Losing a linebacker means losing a good tackler. Use packages to ensure best corners are against best receivers. Your nickel back isn't as skilled as your starters, usually.
Nickel StrongSame as nickel but shifts the safety toward the strong side.Strong Nickel, Strong Shift, CB Swap, Safety Swap, LOLB Right, 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 1-5-5, 1-5-5 ProwlOne Defensive Lineman, five Linebackers, five defensive backs. Crowded line of scrimmage with basically one MLB (prowl with two). Found in the New England playbook.DE Pass Rush, MLB Swap (MLB 2 in Prowl), OLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, SS Nickel, FS NickelFive Linebackers help defend against a run and five defensive backs help defend the pass. Allows for some blitzing variation.Can be a weak run defense if your Linebackers focus on coverage.
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 NickelAdded Linebackers help defend against an unexpected run. In the 3-4 playbook because of the team's typical linebacker skill.Need to increase pass rush with linebacker pressure.
Nickel 3-3-5Three Defensive Linemen, three Linebackers and five defensive backs.4th CB, OLB Flip, Safety NB, Safety Flip, DE Flip, CB FlipAn added linebacker to defend the run or short passing.Need to increase pass rush with linebacker pressure.
Dime NormalFour Defensive Linemen, one linebacker, six defensive backs.ROLB, LOLB, CB Swap, LB Pass Rush, Safety Swap, D-Line SubSix defensive backs to counter the passing game. Use against four or more wide receiver sets.Weak against an unexpected run.
Dime FlatSame as dime but closes Safeties in and backs off corners.ROLB, LOLB, CB Swap, DE Swap, DT Swap, LB RushDefenders are tighter and closer to the line to protect against run or short passing. Good for end zone defense.Weaker against deep passing.
Quarters NormalThree Defensive Linemen, one linebacker, seven defensive backs.Linebackers, LB Pass Rush, LOLB, ROLB, CB Flip, Safety Swap, Slot CB Flip, SS Tight Seven defensive backs as a pass prevent defense.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 Swap, Dline SubThree deep Safeties to protect against the deep ball. Use in long yardage situations.Easy to run against.
Quarters ComboCombination of Quarters normal and 3 deep.ROLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Swap, Slot Swap, LB Pass Rush, LOLB Swap, Dline SubProtects against the deep ball with three deep Safeties.Easy to run against.
Dollar NormalEight defensive backs.FS Sub, MLB/ROLB Swap, MLB/LOLB Swap, Safety Flip, CB Strong RT, CB Strong LT, Safeties, D-Line Sub, Quarter Eight players focused on stopping the pass. Use in certain passing situations (long yardage) or even in the red zone to crowd the end zone.You have a lot of bad tacklers on the field if your opponent runs the ball!

Default Formation Playbooks

This chart reveals which specific defensive formations are featured within each default, non-team specific defensive playbook.

PLAYBOOK4-3 DEFENSES3-4 DEFENSES46 DEFENSESNICKEL DEFENSESDIME DEFENSESDOLLAR DEFENSESQUARTER DEFENSES
4-3Normal, Over, UnderNoneNormalNormal, Strong, 3-3-5Normal, FlatNormalCombo
3-4NoneNormal, Over, Under, Solid, Even, StackNone3-3-5, Strong, 2-4-5NormalNormal3 Deep
Cover 2Normal, Under, OverNoneNoneNormal, 3-3-5, StrongNormal, FlatNormalCombo
46OverNoneNormal, BearNormal, Strong, 3-3-5Normal, FlatNormalCombo
Multiple DNormalNormal, Under, StackNormal2-4-5, 3-3-5, 1-5-5NormalNormalCombo

Defensive Shifts

After you've called your defensive formation and personnel, you can still make adjustments to your current alignment. You can make shifts to the line, Linebackers, or defensive backs to guard against your opponent's tendencies or expected play. Make these adjustments using the left analog stick on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

POSITIONSHIFTS (LEFT ANALOG STICK)COMMENTARY
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.
Defensive BacksPut defensive backs into press coverage, put defensive backs in loose coverage, show blitz or align coverage.Press coverage with Press Coverage corners and to slow down receiver routes; play looser against expected deep passes. Show blitz to disguise coverage, confuse blockers, and perhaps force opponent to throw earlier.

The following table reveals further global adjustments that can be made to the Defensive Line, Linebackers and defensive backs. Make these adjustments using the right analog stick on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Use these adjustments to counter an expected offensive play, perhaps to disrupt the direction of a run play or to call an impromptu blitz.

POSITIONADJUSTMENTS (RIGHT ANALOG STICK)COMMENTARY
Defensive LineCrash the line left, crash the line right, crash the line outside, or crash the line inside.Adjust the line depending on where you think the run play will go. Crash left or right against runs expected in those directions. Crashing outside can help guard against either and inside against inside runs.
LinebackersBlitz the left linebacker, blitz the right linebacker, hook zones for all Linebackers (up), blitz all Linebackers (down).Change your defensive call at the linebacker position with these hot routes. Add pass rush to the left or right side (or all) with linebacker pressure or call them back into a zone to protect the middle of the field.
Defensive BacksShift deep zones left, right, or out.Shift deep zone coverage toward the side of the field with more receivers.

Defensive Playmaker

By: Kyle Cooper from SportsGamer

When attempting to play Madden at a high level the standard defenses provided within the game aren't always enough to stop certain opponents. Sometimes to cover a particular part of the field or stop that annoying running quarterback it's going to take a manual adjustment to one of your defenders before the snap to stop it. Fortunately, EA has done a great job of giving users the defensive tools necessary to counter almost any offense. Below we're going to showcase all of the possible pre-snap individual player adjustments that can be made to help get you ready for the Madden 11 season!

  • To assign a defender to blitz, cycle to that player and "A" on the 360 and "X" on the PS3 and move the right analog stick down.
  • In case your opponent thinks about taking off with the quarterback, assign a defender to a QB spy. Do so by using "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the right analog stick left.
  • If your opponent is constantly hitting his running back out of the backfield in the flats, then you may want to consider placing your defender in a flat zone. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the right analog stick to the right.
  • A good way to stop curl routes or corner routes is to hot route a defender into a buzz zone. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the left analog stick to the right.
  • Most Linebackers can't cover downfield very effectively; however, utilizing deep zones with any onf your front seven defenders can prove to be beneficial because often times the player's lack of speed places him in perfect position underneath of the receiver to swat away the pass. Also, using a defender up front can provide you with some much needed height in the secondary to deal with those tall receivers. To hot route a defender to perform a deep zone, select the desired player and press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the right analog stick up.
  • Hook zones are a great way to slow down slants and deep ins over the middle of the field. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the left analog stick up.
  • Hot routing a defender to perform a QB Contain is another way you can attempt to slow down a running quarterback. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the left analog stick down. QB Contain routes typically will not attack the quarterback until he approaches the defender's area, so do not use this assignment if you're expecting to create a pass rush.
  • To hot route a defender to play man-to-man coverage on someone, select the defender and press "A + receiver's icon" (360) or "X + receiver's icon" (PS3) and move the right analog stick left. Being able to place a defender in man-to-man coverage on a receiver is a great way to make sure you account for all of your opponent's on the field.
  • The ultimate man-to-man defense on your opponent's #1 receiving threat is to double team him. Hot routing a defender to double team a receiver can be done the exact same way that you assign a defender to man-to-man coverage; do so when you already have a corner in man-to-man against that receiver. Double teaming a receiver doesn't always mean that the defense will make a play on the ball; however, it does mean that the offensive player will have a much tougher time consistently hanging onto the ball since two players will be hitting him after the catch instead of one.

Defensive Training Camp

Learning the Defensive Formations

By: Kyle Cooper

Having the right personnel on the field on defense can be the difference between winning and losing. In this section, we'll break down the different defensive formation to provide a better understanding of what you should expect when exiting the huddle.

The first formation we're going to take a look at is the 4-3. It's called the 4-3 because there are four Defensive Linemen and three Linebackers on the field. This defense is typically decent at stopping the run and good against users who enjoy running offenses from bigger sets. This formation should avoid against opponents who like to throw every play with four and five receiver sets.

The 3-4 defense is similar to the 4-3, only there's one more linebacker and one less Defensive Linemen on the field. This is another defense that should be used against bigger sets because you don't want to leave your Linebackers matched up in man-to-man coverage on receivers. However, some teams may be able to get away with using a 3-4 against spread offenses if they have a fast group of Linebackers.

The 46 defense is one of the most popular defensive formations in the game. The personnel is the same as the 4-3, but the ability to bring consistent pressure and stop the run with more regularity is enough for many users to make this their base defense throughout an entire game. However, spread sets can beat this defense if pressure isn't applied on the quarterback.

Tip: One of the most important keys to creating a solid defense is being able to disguise your play calling. The truth is many Madden players out there just don't realize how easily this can be done within the same formation. Each defensive formation in the game has been provided with a group of four pre-set formation audibles that can be used to quickly go back and forth between zone and man coverage. Before the snap hit "X" on the 360 or "Square" on the PS3 and use the right analog stick up for Man Cover 2, right for Cover 3 Zone, left for Cover 2 Zone, and down for a blitz.

The Nickel 3-3-5 has three Defensive Linemen, three Linebackers, and five defensive backs. Many Madden players love the flexibility of this defense because it matches up fairly well against both big and spread sets. This flexibility allows players to counter opponents who like to audible up and down throughout the course of a game. A couple of downsides to this defense include the lack of pressure on the quarterback and the inability to consistently stop the run. Both of these weaknesses can be fixed with manual movements before the snap, but it certainly takes some work.

The Nickel 1-5-5 is one of the more unique defenses in the game. This defense calls for five Linebackers, five defensive backs, and just one Defensive Lineman. Needless to say, pressure from this defense isn't always easy or consistent. Furthermore, stopping the run with this formation takes a lot of work. The best part about this defense is that the player is able to move ten players anywhere on the field. The only player that cannot be moved with resetting to his original position is the Defensive Lineman. This defense may be confusing for opponents at times, but there are just too many weaknesses for it to be used throughout the course of a game.

The Nickel 1-5-5 Prowl is basically the same defense as the Nickel 1-5-5, but the Defensive Linemen is standing up instead of in a three-point stance. The good thing about both the 1-5-5 and the Prowl is that you can mix both formations together and create a truly unique defense if perfected.

The Nickel Normal is another defense that is flexible enough to be used against multiple offensive sets. This defense provides us with four Defensive Linemen, two Linebackers, and five defensive backs. With six big defenders in the box we are able to create solid pressure, as well as slow down most running plays. This is a formation that is good to start a game because you don't risk getting beat deep and it forces your opponent to work up the field as you learn tendencies.

The Nickel Strong can be just as useful as the Nickel Normal formation. The two differences between the formations is that in the Strong formation the nickel back stands right next to the defensive end on the left side of the Offensive Line and the strong safety is about three to four yards closer to the line of scrimmage. Having the nickel back stand next to the defensive end allows for great blitzes around the outside. However, most people usually suspect blitz from that side in this formation while the Nickel Normal formation can bring an element of surprise.

The Dime Normal formation is best used for passing situations because it places four Defensive Linemen, one linebacker, and seven defensive backs on the field. Most people prefer to stick with a defense that can stop both the run and the pass, so not too many users throw out the Dime look for opponents.

The Quarters 3 Deep formation is great for long yardage situations. There's also a Quarters Normal formation, but in that formation there isn't a deep safety in the middle of the field. Many Madden gamers will take this defense and hot route two of the three Defensive Linemen to play zones underneath. Obviously, this means that there's only one defender rushing after the quarterback, but when you've got ten other players in coverage downfield that doesn't always seem to matter.

The Goal Line formation is typically only used inside the ten yardline. However, this is a formation that can be productive against big offensive sets. The problem with coming out of the huddle having called a Goal Line defense is running into those opponents who audible up and down numerous times before the snap. You don't want to get caught trying to guard four and five receivers with your Goal Line personnel package on the field.

The best defenses to use are formations that can do a little bit of everything. It's probably going to be to your benefit to start every game by coming out in the Nickel Normal or 46 Normal defense until you get a feel for what your opponent is trying to do offensively. These formations are great because they can guard against both the run and the pass effectively. Also, these formations can bring consistent pressure as well. With that said, once you begin to start looking deeper into your defensive schemes you're going to want to consider which formations really allow you to utilize your strengths on the field.

Understanding Defensive Coverages

By: Kyle Cooper

Knowing the different defensive coverages in Madden is the first step towards becoming a better player. In this article, we check out all of the different defensive coverages available in Madden 11 to help you know what you should be looking for on the field. Take a look below as we walk you through each one step by step.

Take a look at the basic man cover 2 defense. They call this defense a cover 2 because we are provided with two deep zones downfield. Cover 2 defenses are the most commonly used by Madden gamers because they provide users with a safety net on both sides of the field if one of their Cornerbacks happens to get beat deep.

Check out the cover 1 defense. A cover 1 defense has just one defender playing in a deep zone downfield. The reason cover 1 defenses are used is not only because it still provides one safety net over the top, but now we're also able to use an extra defender to rush or help cover if needed.

The reason behind using a cover 0 defense is typically to get to the quarterback as quickly as possible. Obviously, there's no help deep in case one of your Cornerbacks get beat, so getting immediate pressure on the opponent is key. Cover 0 defenses aren't used very often because the risk is simply too high for the reward.

Cover 3 defenses are certainly popular, but more so when playing a zone. Many Madden gamers like to turn to the Quarters 3 Deep: 3 Deep Man when they've forced their opponent into a third and long situation. The reason this defense is a good choice in that particular situation is because everyone on offense is manned up and we've got plenty of help over the top. A cover 3 is usually good enough to stop a deep pass anywhere on the field.

Cover 2 zones are riskier than cover 2 man defenses because once the receivers have gotten behind the cornerback's flat zones they will have a one-on-one matchup with the Safeties, which more often than not favors the receiver. However, if the defense was a man defense, the Cornerbacks would have also been in the picture downfield. Most people like to use cover 2 zone defenses when their opponent gets inside the 10 to 15 yard line. A much shorter field to work with makes this defense very difficult to beat for opponents.

Tip: Defending against a mobile quarterback has always been one of the toughest things to do in Madden. Fortunately, there are more than enough tools in Madden 11 to slow down those opponents who have a run first mentality in the pocket. First, place defensive ends in QB contain assignment using hot routes or a play call. Second, call blitzes from the outside (corners and nickel backs). Third, have defenders in the flats that will attack the roll out. Finally, have a defender in QB spy on the quarterback.

Cover 4 defenses are about as good as you can get as far as covering deep across the entire the field. The only bad thing about using most cover 4 defenses is that the flats are usually left open. Just remember to stick to using this type of coverage when your opponent is in long yardage situations.

If a cover 4 defense is almost a good as you can get covering deep, then the prevent defense is as good as you can get. A prevent defense calls for nine defense to perform deep zones on the play. Obviously this is a defense that should only be used at the end of halves and games because there's no coverage anywhere underneath.

Another type of defense coverage that can be used is a man and zone combination. Combination defenses are great because on some formations it can appear to the opponent that you are in man coverage on everyone. Unique coverages such as this often confuse opponents into making poor decisions because they aren't using to seeing them as much on the field.

Another type of defensive coverage is a zone blitz. On this particular play we have our left cornerback (on the right side of the field) in the flats, a cover 3 over the top, and we are rushing five at the quarterback. Zone blitzes are a great way to force your opponent to have to make strong throws in the pocket. Otherwise, if a throw is rushed and the quarterback isn't able to get everything behind it because of the pressure it could result in a turnover.

The last type of coverage we'll be discussing is certainly different, but there are actually some stock plays in the game already that place your defensive end in man-to-man coverage. In addition to the man coverage, we also have a cover 3 over the top, as well as overload pressure coming from the backside of the line. This defense is certainly a combination of everything.

Playing good defense in Madden and in the NFL is about disguising your pressure and mixing your coverages. However, the first thing you need to understand is what the different coverages do. Also, be sure to use defensive hot routes on certain plays to try to create even more unique defensive looks for your squad. Getting stops this season won't be easy, but clearly you'll have the tools to make it happen!

Front-Seven Quick Control Guide

By: Kyle Cooper

There are a number of different options that users can utilize with the members of their front seven defenders. However, the truth is that most people out there don't make any pre-play adjustments, allowing their opponents to feel extremely comfortable in the pocket even before the play begins. By simply using and learning some of these basic movements in Madden 11 you can at least make your opponent think that pressure is coming even if you aren't bringing any. Check it out below!

The defensive formation that we'll be using to showcase all the different options up front is the 4-3 Normal. These movements will work with any formation, so be sure to try to incorporate them into your defensive scheme this season. The list below reveals adjustments that can be made to both the Defensive Linemen and Linebackers.

  • "LB" + left on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + left on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts your Defensive Line to the left. As a general rule, many Madden gamers choose to shift their Defensive Line to the side of the Offensive Line that has more players to protect against the run. For instance, because the offense is in the I Form Normal formation and the tight end is on the right side of the line those players would shift their Defensive Line to the right instead. This is a solid general rule of thumb, but it's certainly not set in stone as 100% effective.
  • "LB" + right on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + right on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts your Defensive Line to the right. Shifting the Defensive Line to one side or the other is often a good way to allow your defensive end to create pressure around the outside because it usually forces the tackle to have to block him straight up without any help.
  • "LB" + up on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + up on the left analog stick (PS3): Spreads the Defensive Line. Spreading the Defensive Line can create outside pressure, as well as prevent the quarterback from rolling out of the pocket too quickly.
  • "LB" + down on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + down on the left analog stick (PS3): Pinches the Defensive Line in. Most people use the pinched in Defensive Line only when the opponent gets inside the five yard line to prevent a quick run up the middle.
  • "LB" + up on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + up on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line out. This changes the blitz angles at which our Defensive Linemen rush the quarterback. This can prevent the quarterback from getting outside of the pocket right away.
  • "LB" + right on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + right on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line to the right. Crashing the angles to the right will overload the right side of the Offensive Line, but the quarterback will be able to escape to the backside if he's quick enough.
  • "LB" + left on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + left on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line to the left. Again, this will put pressure on the left side of the Offensive Line, but the opposite side will be left open.
  • "LB" + down on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + down on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line in. This is another change that typically will only be used inside the five yard line to prevent opponents from running up the middle too easily.
  • "RB" + right on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + right on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts Linebackers to the right. This shift is usually made to either overload one side of the Offensive Line with a blitz or to try to stop the run.
  • "RB" + left on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + left on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts Linebackers to the left. Again, this change is typically made to show an overload blitz or to help stop the run.
  • "RB" + up on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + up on the left analog stick (PS3): Spreads the Linebackers. Spreading the Linebackers will provide better spacing on the field to help cover with, but it will also leave you a little thin up the middle when trying to stop the run.
  • "RB" + down on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + down on the left analog stick (PS3): Pinches the Linebackers. Pinching the Linebackers is another tactic that you will normally only see in short yardage situations to help against quick runs up the middle.
  • "RB" + left or right on the right analog stick (360) or "R1" + left or right on the right analog stick (PS3): Outside left or right linebacker to blitz. Blitzing either one of your outside Linebackers in this fashion is a good way to surprise your opponent off the end with pressure without having to give your movements away by manually doing it before the snap.
  • "RB" + down on the right analog stick (360) or "R1" + down on the right analog stick (PS3): Blitz all of the Linebackers. Using this option is certainly risky, but if you get to the quarterback it could pay off big time.
  • "RB" + up on the right analog stick (360) or "R1" + up on the right analog stick (PS3): Send Linebackers into hook zones. Madden gamers rarely use this option because having three of the exact same zones in the same area of the field is far too crowded.

We want to show one more quick option that can be made on the field that many people are unaware of. The option that we're referring to can be used when cycling through the different defenders on defense. We all know that hitting (360 - B / PS3 - O) repeatedly before the snap will allow us to move from player to player as we decide who we are going to control during the play. However, there's a quicker way to move through each player on the field. Instead of repeatedly hitting the button, hold down (360 - B / PS3 - O) and use the directional pad we can quickly switch our player control to a member on the Defensive Line.

By holding the cycle players button and pressing down on the d-pad our player control instantly moved to the left defensive end. Learning how to cycle through your players the quickest way possible is vital to making sure you get your defense set up in time before the play begins.

If you haven't been using any of the shifts available to your front seven defenders you've been missing out. With Madden 11 out now, maybe this should be the first year that you give it a try to take your defense to another level. Even showing your opponent the appearance of a blitz is enough for most people to have to make an adjustment before the snap on offense.

Disguising Bump and Run Coverage

By: Kyle Cooper

Many Madden players like their Cornerbacks to apply bump and run coverage on the receivers after the snap. The reason this type of coverage is so popular is because it slows the progress of the receivers up the field, providing extra time for the defense to apply pressure on the quarterback. Because so many players choose to use bump and run coverage, most people try to get comfortable by consistently practicing different ways to beat it. Still, if you can learn to disguise your bump and run coverage before the snap you can throw off your opponent's timing. Read below to discover some of the options that defenses have to disguise the bump in Madden 11.

In our example, we're using the Carolina Panthers in a Dime Man Cover 2 defense. We want to use bump n' run coverage on this play, so we prepare to make the change before the snap. On the 360 press "Y" + down on the left analog stick and on the PS3 press "Triangle" and down on the left analog stick before the snap. Our Cornerbacks move up closer to the receivers near the line of scrimmage. However, there's one more change that we want to make before we're completely ready for the offense to snap the ball.

The last change we make is resetting the play by pressing "X" + left trigger on the 360 and "Square" plus "L2" on the PS3. By calling for bump and run coverage before the snap and then resetting the play our Cornerbacks don't appear that they are going to bump the receivers anymore because they moved back to their original spots on the field. However, even though we reset the play our Cornerbacks will still apply the bump on the receivers, only this time it will be slightly delayed.

The best way to use the delayed bump and run coverage is to make the changes immediately out of the huddle. If you make the changes before your defenders get set your opponent won't see your Cornerbacks move closer, therefore preventing him from getting a read on whether your defense is bumping or not.

Another way to disguise the bump and run coverage is to use a zone defense. In this example, we've come out in the Dime Cover 3 Zone to try to mix things up. Next, we make the call for bump and run coverage on the outsides once again. Our opponent clearly sees our Cornerbacks move up on the line of scrimmage to show that the bump is coming. However, we know that when our Cornerbacks are playing a deep zone (dark blue) they will not bump the receivers off the line of scrimmage no matter the pre-snap adjustment.

This can lead to confusion as your opponent looks for the bump and run coverage to occur but instead the cornerback gets up field faster than expected. The throwing window may have passed making the throw later than desired. This means your defenders have a greater chance of breaking up the passing play.

Disguising the bump and run coverage can be just as important as disguising your play-calling. Another option you may want to consider is calling for bump and run coverage, and then manually moving each of one your Cornerbacks back to provide an even later bump after the play has begun. However, it's important to remember that if you choose to do this you don't want to move your players back too far or they won't bump the receiver at all.

Shutdown a Receiver with the Spotlight

By: Kyle Cooper

The idea behind spotlighting a player is to make sure that the receiver essentially has two defenders on him at all time. The way that spotlighting works is any defender who is playing a zone will help out on the spotlighted player when he enters their area on the field. Spotlighting a player in Madden 11 definitely works and should be used quite a bit against some of the upper echelon receivers in the league. Check out the examples below to see first hand how spotlighting a receiver can improve your defense this year!

In our example, the New England Patriots have come out of the huddle with a goal of hitting wide receiver Randy Moss deep downfield. The defense that we've come out in with the New York Jets has basic man-to-man coverage with two deep Safeties playing over the top. We're going to run through this play the first time without using the spotlighting feature to allow you to see how the Safeties react.

As soon as quarterback Tom Brady receives the snap the strong safety on the right side of the field makes an initial break toward Moss. Unfortunately, it's the strong safety's second move on the field that makes us wish we had used the spotlighting feature. You'll see the strong safety has now squared up on the quarterback and is in no position to try to turn and run with a speedster like Randy Moss. The strong safety now finally turns and begins to try to run with Moss.

Tip: Sometimes you don't have to be flashy in order to be successful. Using the swat button instead of always going for the interception may not be as much fun, but it certainly has a higher chance of accomplishing what you want to happen-which is disrupting the offensive play! Go into this season with a goal of not giving up easy touchdowns and start utilizing the swat more to make your opponents really work on offense.

The bad news is he doesn't have the speed or the angle to prevent Moss from getting behind him at this point in the play. Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady sets his feet and prepares to make the deep throw across the field to Moss. Meanwhile, the safety remains slightly ahead of Moss at this point, but slightly ahead won't be enough to stop the pass once the ball is in the air. Brady fires the pass as Moss is already almost dead even with the strong safety. As the ball approaches Moss begins to widen the gap between himself and these two members of the Jets' secondary. The deep pass from Brady is completed to Moss; he's able to get behind the entire New York defense with ease.

Now let's take a look at the exact same play, only this time we'll be using the spotlight receiver feature to focus the Jets' defense on the electrifying Randy Moss.

We make the quick call to spotlight Moss by pressing right trigger + receiver icon on the 360 or "R2" + receiver icon on the PS3 before the snap. You can only spotlight one receiver per play, so don't waste your time trying to spotlight every receiver on the field. In our example now, our deep safety makes an initial break towards Moss as soon as Brady takes the snap. The difference in the play this time is our strong safety continues running toward Moss instead of standing flat-footed closer towards the middle of the field-spotlight!

At this point in the play our strong safety is moving deeper down the field as he lines up directly in front of Moss. Our defender is in a much better position to try to stop the deep ball now because he realized his biggest responsibility much quicker than he did before without the spotlight receiver feature being used.

When Brady rolls out of the pocket once again and attempts to throw deep to Moss. Our safety is running at full speed and still remains a couple yards in front of Moss. As the ball closes in our safety continues to run at full speed and has great inside position on Moss. Even against the speed of Randy Moss our much slower strong safety is now in position to make a play. Our safety uses his great inside position to leap into the air in an attempt to make a play on the ball at its highest point. Moss is behind the defense now, but that's only because our strong safety broke off his coverage to try to make the interception.

One way to counter opponents that like to abuse the spotlight receiver feature is to use your main threat as a decoy. In our next example, we've hot routed Moss to perform a curl route instead of going deep because we suspect that our opponent will be spotlighting him once again. Our goal on this play is to get the strong safety to commit to Moss early, allowing our tight end to get open over the middle against one-on-one coverage.

As soon as Brady takes the snap the strong safety runs over to help on Moss once again. Our tight end has a little extra room over the middle of the field to operate with one of the Safeties out of the picture now. Try this out and you can see the strong safety totally committed to Moss on the right side of the field as our tight end prepares to make his break over the middle. New England tight end Ben Watson cuts to the inside and we make a high pass with quarterback Tom Brady.

Spotlighting a receiver is a great way to try to take out your opponent's best threat on the field. Many people have had trouble stopping players like Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress for years, but now this feature should likely force opponent's to have to look to throw somewhere else on the field more often. However, like everything, it can be countered with some savvy offensive play in Madden 11.

The Art of the Click-Off

By: Kyle Cooper

Being able to make manual plays in Madden is definitely something to be proud of. However, often there's a smarter way to do things on defense. In this tip, we're going to showcase a couple different examples of when it's beneficial to click off of the player you're manually controlling to make the play. Read below as we take you step by step through the breakdown.

To manually make a tackle on a ballcarrier in the open field can be extremely difficult sometimes. The biggest reason open field tackles are so challenging is because the runner is typically approaching at full speed, while your defender is often flat-footed and therefore much slower to react.

In our example, the Houston Texans have just pitched the ball out wide to running back Ahman Green. As soon as Green hauls in the toss we quickly click on to the closest defender in position to make the tackle and try to bring him down. Green slightly moves to the inside and we follow to try to make the tackle. Unfortunately, Green has already built up a lot more speed than our defender is currently moving at, allowing him to make much quicker cuts on the field.

One quick spin to the outside by Green and our defender is left in the dust. By manually controlling the defender as we try to make the open field tackle we are placing so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Furthermore, when Green gets by us there's no help on the sidelines because wide receiver Andre Johnson is about to make a block on the next closest defender. Green turns the corner and heads up field for a huge gain simply because we got caught out of position trying to make the tackle.

In the next example, our opponent attempts to pitch the ball out wide to Green once again. However, we're going to defend against this play by clicking off of the cornerback when the time is right. Green receives the ball and looks to get to the outside. Our cornerback recognizes the run and peels off the receiver to try to help make the tackle on Green. At this point in the play we manually click on the cornerback and sprint towards the ball carrier. Our goal this time is to place our defender in a position to make the tackle, and then click off to let the computer take control of him.

Our defender is now in position and we prepare to click off to let the computer take control. The two reasons we click off the defender once he's in position is not only because the computer is better at consistently making open field tackles, but also because now we can take control of the second closest defender and hold the sprint button to get him involved in the play as well.

Tip: It's important that you learn how to bring pressure from different spots on the field to consistently keep your opponent's guessing. Being able to attack all the different gaps in the Offensive Line is great, but maybe what's equally important is being able to disguise all your blitzes as well. For instance, corner blitzes provide surprise for the pocket passer but also help contain a mobile quarterback. Move blitzing defenders into particular gaps, such as between the center and tackle or between tackle and guard; the Offensive Linemen must decide who to block, the Defensive Line or the incoming blitzing defender.

We are now in a good position to help as we've taken control of the highlighted strong safety. This is a much better scenario for our defense because even if Green happens to shake the computer controlled cornerback we can still be in position to make an immediate tackle right behind him before this turns into an even bigger play. We continue to sprint over towards the ball carrier with the strong safety as our cornerback attempts to make the tackle. Our cornerback makes the impressive open field tackle. However, even if Green had escaped we would've been in perfect position to deliver as second hit on him right away.

Now we're going breakdown a way that you can use the clicking off method to help you defend the pass better. Houston Texans' quarterback Matt Schaub drops back to pass and looks to go downfield. Schaub finds what seems to be an open target on the right side of the field and tries to fire the ball in there.

The defender appears to be out of position at the moment, but shortly after the throw is made our goal is to click onto the defender and try to get him back into position before the ball arrives. We now take control of the cornerback and begin sprinting to try to gain ground on the receiver.

As the ball closes in we are still maintaining control of the cornerback until we get into position to make a play. Your goal when attempting to swat the pass away against most routes is to make sure that you move your cornerback slightly underneath of the receiver before clicking off.

Next, we've now clicked off the cornerback and we are leaving it up to the computer to make a play on the ball. The reason clicking off at this point in the play is good timing is because the cornerback's angle at which he is running will place him slightly underneath of the receiver just as the ball should arrive.

The receiver continues to fade as our now computer controlled cornerback leaps underneath to get into position for the ball. Now we could've kept control of the cornerback the whole time and done the exact same thing. However, why would anyone want to place more pressure on their stick skills to make a play manually when the computer will make it for them? As long as you learn how to place your players into the correct spots on the field to make plays, then clicking off will be the best option most of the time.

Our defender has the receiver completely blanketed now as he flies through the air in an attempt to swat away the pass. The computer-controlled cornerback successfully swats away the pass because we placed him in a great position on the field to make the play before clicking off.

Clicking off isn't always the answer on defense when making tackles or swatting away passes. However, there are certainly plenty of occasions throughout the course of a game where clicking off is the best solution. A good place to practice clicking off and bringing extra defenders over to help can be found in the Running Back Challenge mini-game.

In the Running Back Challenge you'll be able to work on sprinting over towards the ball with one defender, and then clicking off once you've placed him into position to make the tackle. Also, don't forget that once you click off that defender it will give you control of the second closest player. This will enable you to work on placing this defender in a good position as well to help out just in case the first defender gets beat.

Xbox 360 Achievements

Achievement Name How To Earn Reward
Very Special Teams Return 2 kicks for touchdowns in one game with one player (no OTP) 100
Butterfingers Force 3 fumbles in a game (no OTP) 50
Man Dozer Rush for 50 yards after the first hit in one game (no OTP) 25
He's Got all Day Stay in the pocket for 10 seconds (no OTP) 20
Did I Break It? Win a game by at least 59 points (max qtr. len. 7 min, no OTP) 40
Winning Isn't Everything Catch 21 passes in a game with one player (no OTP) 75
Old Spice Swagger Return Return a punt for a touchdown (no OTP) 45
Comeback Kids Win after being behind in the last 2 min of a game (no OTP, min qtr. len. 3 min) 40
No Offense Intercept 5 passes in a game (no OTP) 50
Fantasy Freak Rush for over 200 yards in a game with one player (no OTP) 25
The Elusive Man Break 5 tackles in a game with one player (no OTP) 25
Perfect Game Have a perfect passer rating in a game (no OTP) 50
Home Run Break an 80+ yard touchdown run (no OTP) 25
Old Spice Swagger Pick 6 Intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown (no OTP) 25
YACtastic Have over 100 YAC in one game (no OTP) 35
Pick Up 6 Win a Fight for the Fumble in the end zone for a TD (no OTP) 75
Deadly Accurate Have a 92% or higher completion percentage in a game (min 20 att., no OTP) 30
Laces Out Kick a 60+ yard Field Goal (no OTP) 40
Madden Moments Complete the "Super Bowl Sunday" Madden Moment 100
Defensive Dominance Hold your opponent to under 100 yards of offense (min qtr. len. 5 min, no OTP) 75
Sack Master Record 5 sacks in a game with one player (no OTP) 25
Verizon Master Strategist Create a custom Gameplan 5
Thanks For Coming Play the Pro Bowl (Franchise Mode) 10
Nano Tackle the QB before he can hand the ball off (no OTP) 10

PlayStation 3 Trophies

Trophy Name How To Earn Reward
Very Special Teams Return 2 kicks for touchdowns in one game with one player (no OTP) Gold
Butterfingers Force 3 fumbles in a game (no OTP) Silver
Man Dozer Rush for 50 yards after the first hit in one game (no OTP) Bronze
He's Got all Day Stay in the pocket for 10 seconds (no OTP) Bronze
Did I Break It? Win a game by at least 59 points (max qtr. len. 7 min, no OTP) Silver
Winning Isn't Everything Catch 21 passes in a game with one player (no OTP) Gold
Old Spice Swagger Return Return a punt for a touchdown (no OTP) Silver
Comeback Kids Win after being behind in the last 2 min of a game (no OTP, min qtr. len. 3 min) Bronze
No Offense Intercept 5 passes in a game (no OTP) Silver
Fantasy Freak Rush for over 200 yards in a game with one player (no OTP) Silver
The Elusive Man Break 5 tackles in a game with one player (no OTP) Bronze
Perfect Game Have a perfect passer rating in a game (no OTP) Gold
Home Run Break an 80+ yard touchdown run (no OTP) Silver
Old Spice Swagger Pick 6 Intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown (no OTP) Silver
YACtastic Have over 100 YAC in one game (no OTP) Silver
Pick Up 6 Win a Fight for the Fumble in the end zone for a TD (no OTP) Gold
Deadly Accurate Have a 92% or higher completion percentage in a game (min 20 att., no OTP) Silver
Laces Out Kick a 60+ yard Field Goal (no OTP) Gold
Madden Moments Complete the "Super Bowl Sunday" Madden Moment Gold
Defensive Dominance Hold your opponent to under 100 yards of offense (min qtr. len. 5 min, no OTP) Silver
Sack Master Record 5 sacks in a game with one player (no OTP) Bronze
Verizon Master Strategist Create a custom Gameplan Bronze
Thanks For Coming Play the Pro Bowl (Franchise Mode) Bronze
Nano Tackle the QB before he can hand the ball off (no OTP) Bronze
Madden NFL 11 Master Congratulations on earning every Madden NFL 11 trophy! Platinum

Team Stats

The following table reveals the Madden 11 overall rating for all 32 NFL teams. We've also included the key players in the game's franchise mode.

TEAM OFFENSE DEFENSE OVERALL SEASON CAP KEY PLAYERS
Bears 83 84 85 7-9-0 $35.57m O.Kreutz (C), J.Peppers(RE)
Bengals 87 86 87 10-6-0 $48.11m C.Ochocinco (WR), J.Joseph (CB)
Bills 75 81 79 6-10-0 $30.93m L.Evans (WR), J.Byrd (FS)
Broncos 81 86 85 8-8-0 $40.35m R.Clady (LT), C.Bailey(CB)
Browns 79 83 81 5-11-0 $50.25m J.Thomas (LT), S.Rogers(DT)
Buccaneers 77 82 80 3-13-0 $68.59m K.Winslow (TE), B.Rudd(MLB)
Cardinals 80 85 84 10-6-0 $49.99m L.Fitzgerald (WR),A.Wilson (SS)
Chargers 88 81 85 13-3-0 $38.29m A.Gates (TE), S.Phillips(LOLB)
Chiefs 79 81 81 4-12-0 $63.33m T.Jones (HB), B.Flowers(CB)
Colts 92 86 89 14-2-0 $31.51m P.Manning (QB),D.Freeney (RE)
Cowboys 87 85 86 11-5-0 $23.12m J.Witten (TW), D.Ware(ROLB)
Dolphins 85 81 85 7-9-0 $40.41m B.Marshall (WR),K.Dansby (MLB)
Eagles 81 85 84 11-5-0 $49.01m D.Jackson (WR), T.Cole(RE)
Falcons 88 83 86 9-7-0 $35.12m T.Gonzalez (TE),J.Abraham (RE)
49ers 84 86 85 8-8-0 $29.22m V. Davis (TE), P.Willis(MLB)
Giants 86 81 83 8-8-0 $30.49m G.Snee (RG), J.Tuck (LE)
Jaguars 84 83 84 7-9-0 $43.74m M.Jones-Drew (HB),R.Mathis (CB)
Jets 83 88 87 9-7-0 $29.63m N.Mangold (C), D. Revis(CB)
Lions 82 76 78 2-14-0 $36.42m C.Johnson (WR),J.Peterson (LOLB)
Packers 90 85 88 11-5-0 $26.52m A.Rodgers (QB),C.Woodson (CB)
Panthers 84 81 83 8-8-0 $71.33m J.Gross (LT), J.Beason(MLB)
Patriots 89 83 87 10-6-0 $38.14m T.Brady (QB), V.Wilfork(DT)
Raiders 79 83 83 5-11-0 $31.61m Z.Miller (TE),N.Asomugha (CB)
Rams 82 76 80 1-15-0 $54.38m S.Jackson (HB),J.Laurinaitis (MLB)
Ravens 88 86 87 9-7-0 $35.46m B.Grubbs (LG), E.Reed(FS)
Redskins 85 82 84 4-12-0 $12.05m D.McNabb (QB),L.Fletcher (MLB)
Saints 91 86 89 13-3-0 $21.40m D.Brees (QB), D.Sharper(FS)
Seahawks 80 83 82 5-11-0 $37.14m T.Houshmandzadeh (WR),L.Tatupu (MLB)
Steelers 87 87 88 9-7-0 $28.82m H.Miller (TE),T.Polamalu (SS)
Texans 86 81 84 9-7-0 $39.28m A.Johnson (WR),M.Williams (RE)
Titans 85 82 84 8-8-0 $36.37m C.Johson (HB),C.Finnegan (CB)
Vikings 92 88 90 12-4-0 $3.55m A.Peterson (HB), J.Allen(RE)

Offensive Formations

This section covers Madden 11 offensive formations and packages and provides details on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Offensive Formations and Packages

The list below provides tips on using each offensive formation based on situational decisions and team strategies.

  • Goal Line: Every team playbook includes this formation: it's a short yardage formation, either two yards or under to go for a first down or on the opposing team's goal line. The quarterback sneak from goal line is generally effective and usually capable of picking up a couple yards at least; snap the ball quickly (don't let an opposing defense set up and plug gaps) and push forward and cover up the ball. Deceptive passing or play-action passing from goal line can be effective if the defense isn't on a heavy blitz.
  • I Form: This is a versatile formation offering solid run plays as well as variations for the short-to-medium passing game. Use I-Form for teams with a strong blocking fullback, such as Cincinnati or Atlanta. You can also use the Dual HB package to insert your team's second RB into the fullback position (great for teams like New Orleans, Carolina, Jacksonville, and others with a couple solid ball carriers) and use run or pass plays (sending the backs into the flat or on medium passing routes).
  • Strong, Weak: These formations are similar to I Form but the fullback is offset to the strong (side of the line of scrimmage with the tight end) or weak (side of the line of scrimmage without the tight end). Consider the same strategies as I Form-teams with skilled Fullbacks or using two running backs in a run or pass situation. Note that these formations are referred to as Strong I and Weak I in the default playbooks.
  • Far, Near: These formations are similar to Strong and Weak but the fullback is positioned alongside the running back. Far and Near aren't particularly common; find them in Seattle's playbook (or the default West Coast playbook). Use these formations as you would with Strong, Weak, and I Form-teams with strong Fullbacks or in two RB sets.
  • Split: The two backs are lined up split behind the quarterback. The backs can reach the flat quickly for passing situations. The base formation uses a running back and fullback but you can use packages to insert a second running back to make it difficult for the defense to determine where you're going with the ball on a short passing play.
  • Full House and Jumbo T: This formation is another rare set seen in Green Bay's playbook. The Full House features three backs behind the quarterback. You can use packages to alter the personnel (exchanging running backs for Fullbacks for instance). The extra backs can provide blocking or use them in the passing game. It's also useful to disguise the direction of your run and who will be the runner given the number of options. Find Jumbo T in the "Run Heavy" playbook, which also features several variations of Full House. Jumbo T is similar to Full House with three backs; however, the three backs are lined perpendicular to the quarterback.
  • Singleback: Unlike previous formations, there's only one back lined up behind the quarterback. This is a common, yet extremely versatile formation. For run situations you can call singleback variations that include additional tight ends for blocking or in passing situations call singleback variations with more receivers. For run situations, singleback can be stronger for teams without a skilled fullback but better depth at the tight end position.
  • Gun, Rifle, Shotgun: This is generally a passing formation: the quarterback lines up off the center providing extra time to find opening receivers before facing the opposing rush. Gun, or Shotgun, can be a deceptive run formation, especially if you've called a formation with four receivers as defenses will usually select dime coverage to protect against the pass.

After selecting a formation, you can use package substitutions to further alter a formation's positioning and personnel. You can substitute a fullback for a second running back, move your weapon-laden WR around the formation into the slot or swap positions with the second receiver; adjust a star tight end into the slot; or place a Hands running back into the slot or wideout position. The list below covers the most common packages and lists tips for using each.

  • Dual HB: For formations with two backs, such as I Form, Strong, Weak, Far, Near, and Shotgun 2RB, this package allows you to substitute your team's second running back in for the starting fullback. Use this package to capitalize on a team with multiple skilled running backs, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars (Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew). You can run the second running back from fullback plays or use the package in passing plays where both backs offer outlet options in the flat or short-to-medium passing game.
  • Jumbo Backfield: Essentially the opposite of Dual HB-this package substitutes your running back for the fullback. This package can be useful in short yardage situations and for teams with good Fullbacks.
  • 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).
  • HB Slot and HB Wideout: If your selected team has a great pass-catching running back (such as Brian Westbrook of Philadelphia and Reggie Bush of New Orleans), use this package to position your starting running back into the slot or wideout position. This can create some good speed mismatches against a defense's third corner in the slot as well as open up new passing routes for your skilled running back in either the slot or wideout position.
  • Strong Slot: Substitutes your best receiver into the slot position. Strong Slot is excellent for opening new routes for a weapon-laden receiver and putting that receiver up against new defenders-possibly a mismatch against a safety or even a linebacker. Move receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, or Randy Moss around the field to give your star pass catcher more route options.
  • TE Slot: Substitutes your tight end into the slot position. Use this package if your team has a good receiving tight end (Jason Witten of Dallas, Antonio Gates of San Diego, Tony Gonzalez of Kansas City, Todd Heap of Baltimore, or Dallas Clark of Indianapolis) 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. You can use this formation in run plays using the tight end to block or even in a short passing game to open up unique passing routes for teams with skilled tight ends.
  • WR Strong, WR Strong Weak, and WR Bunch: Places your top receivers on the strong side of the formation. In Strong Weak, places your best two receivers on the same side in a multiple receiver set-for instance in a five receiver set. 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.
  • WR HB and WR FB: Move your top wide receiver into the running back or fullback position. This can be great for creating mismatches and hitting a speedy receiver on swing passes out of the backfield.
  • Patriot: Insert a linebacker on a Goal Line formation. Think Mike Vrabel of the New England Patriots.
  • Heavy: A linemen subs for a tight end, optimum for extra blocking in lead blocker mode.
  • Miami: On goal line, substitutes your receiver for a tight end and a Defensive Line man for your tight end.

Offensive Training Camp

This section focuses on the offensive side of the ball.

Getting Started: Setting Audibles

By: Daniel Grundei

One of the most frustrating things about Madden is setting your audibles before each game. This is especially frustrating when you play online, and you have to pause the game, and set your audibles while you opponent does the same. This can take several minutes, and can be annoying for both you and your opponent. Luckily, there is a way to set your audibles to your profile. From past online experience, I'd imagine only about 10% of people take advantage of this technique. This should be a much higher number! If you don't like wasting your time on audibles, follow the instructions below.

Proceed to the main Madden menu. To set your audibles, move down to the "My Madden" tab. After clicking on the tab, you want to move down to the "Strategy" tab. Now you can see that there are options for your audibles. Click the "Offensive Audibles" tab. You can actually set both Offensive and Defensive Audibles from here. Now that you're in the Offensive Audible tab, make sure you pick the playbook that you typically use. These audibles will only be set if you use that particular playbook during the game. So if you always use the Chicago Bears playbook, for instance, you will need to select that particular playbook and click on it.

Now you can set five audibles to correspond to the Y, A, X, RB, and LB buttons (using an Xbox 360 as the example). When you're done setting your offensive audibles, you can click the RB button to set your defensive audibles. When you're finished, simply save your settings. Whenever you play a game, regardless of what team you choose, you won't have to waste time setting your audibles anymore. Just remember it's tied to the playbook!

Leaning to Run: FB Dives

By: Kyle Cooper

Fullback dives were the most effective runs in Madden last season and they'll be the most effective runs in Madden this season. The fact remains that these runs simply develop so much quicker than every other run in the game. Some fullback dives are faster than others, but the ones that are the quickest to develop are by far the most difficult runs to stop in the game.

Tip: Zone defenses are one of the best times to utilize a running back draw play. The reason zones are perfect for draws is because the defenders begin retreating away from the ball carrier because they anticipate that the play is a pass. The delayed handoff is what fakes out the defense and allows you to pick up some easy yardage. Opponents that back more defenders into coverage will be most susceptible to the draw play.

In this example, we've chosen to use a split back formation on the Washington Redskins to demonstrate the effective of the fullback dive. On these particular runs you don't need a lead blocker because they develop so quickly. Redskin running back Clinton Portis goes in motion and quarterback Jason Campbell prepares to receive the snap. Even if our opponent knows that the fullback dive is coming it is still extremely difficult to stop for as loss. The worst result we could possible ever see is a loss of one yard or no gain because the exchange from the quarterback is so quick and so close to the line of scrimmage-a big key to the running game.

In the FB Dive play, the fullback receiving the ball just three yards shy of the line of scrimmage. The holes in the Offensive Line may look easily exploitable, but these runs actually have very good protection up front and losses on the play rarely ever happen. Tight end Chris Cooley (who can be packaged in at fullback and become the ball carrier) crosses the line of scrimmage as the defenders are engaged with our linemen. In our example, we already have at least five yards on the play and the defense is just now beginning to close in. Cooley's finally taken down to the ground after a gain of 11 yards on the play.

Another quick developing fullback dive can be found in the Weak formation. This time we're going to run the play with our normal fullback Mike Sellers, despite him being much slower than Cooley. The snap is taken and this time the exchange takes place just two yards deep in the backfield. It's almost impossible to lose yardage when running this particular play.

Stay in tight behind the linemen as continue to push forward for extra yardage. In our example, we slide off our linemen with Sellers and he's finally taken down after a gain of almost five yards on the play.

There's no doubt that the fullback dive should be a part of every single Madden player's offense. There simply aren't that many runs in the game that develop as quickly, or are as consistent. When you figure out which formations you'll be using this season be sure to make sure that there's at least one fullback dive available to you.

Learning to Run: Tosses

By: Kyle Cooper

Tosses and sweeps are a great way to provide your running back with a little bit of freedom in the backfield. Once your runner receives the pitch you can look to cut it up field at any point-good stick skill is certainly a plus so you can maneuver around blockers or dodge an incoming tackler. You'll want to use tosses and sweeps with a running back that has exceptional speed because you never know when a defender might get instant penetration into the backfield. Let's take a look an example.

To get the best results when using a toss or a sweep you may want to call the play out of a Twin WR set. Calling a toss out of a Twin WR set will open up the opposite side of the field if the opponent is in man-to-man defense.

Tip:Counter running plays are some of the most dangerous for the offense and defense. The reason it's dangerous for the offense to use counters is because there's a risk of losing significant yardage in the backfield if the defense gets penetration. However, counters are also dangerous for the defense because these runs provide some of the best chances for breaking a long run off for six.

In our example, the Atlanta Falcons have seven defenders in the box-but that's exactly what we want because we know that this play is headed for the outside. New Orleans' quarterback Drew Brees pitches the ball out wide to running back Reggie Bush, one of the fastest running backs available in Madden 11. Bush hauls in the easy pitch and is already on his way up the field with a lead blocker clearing the path in front. Bush uses his great speed to quickly get to the line of scrimmage while the linemen continues to look to make a block downfield. Bush is finally dragged down after an easy gain of five yards on the play.

Sweeps and tosses are good choices if you have a speedy running back and you're having trouble finding room up the middle of the field. However, there's always a risk that you could lose yardage on these types of runs because they start so deep in the backfield. If you feel that you've got the vision and the stick control to succeed with sweeps and tosses, then incorporate them into your game this season.

Advanced Running Techniques: Flipping Runs

By: Kyle Cooper

Flipping your running plays is a great way to completely change the direction of your offensive attack without letting your opponent in on the adjustment. Of course, the quarterback always stands up and gives a gesture when the call is made on the field; however, since you can have your quarterback make the gesture even if you aren't really flipping the play, it's still difficult for your opponent to prepare. Let's take a look at an example on flipping your running play.

We've called for a toss to the running back out of the huddle. However, we want to see if our opponent is going to try to make any adjustments before the play. It's important to read the defense and make an educated decision on the field even when you've called a running play. If your opponent is consistently overloading one side of the Offensive Line, then make him pay by pulling off a big run to the other side of the field.

Tip: Here are some tips for running Goal Line on the five yard line and under to get a touchdown. Run a Strong Toss whenever you spot the opponent's corners sliding to the middle of the field (our tight end can seal the block). QB Sneaks are extremely effective, especially in two yards or under. You could even run a QB Sneak multiple times from the four or three and get in but remember that damaging hits to your quarterback could cause injury or a fumble. Consider a FB Dive instead.

Let's say we notice our opponent manually moving several players over toward the tight end side, so we flip the play back to the other side. To make this change flick the right analog stick to the left before the snap. If we decided that we wanted to run the play back to the right all we have to do is flick the right analog stick back to the right.

After our opponent has completely setup his defense, the commitment could be made on the right side of the Offensive Line. With far less defenders on the left side, the decision on where to run the football is easy! In our example, Buffalo Bills' quarterback J.P. Losman swings the ball out wide to running back Marshawn Lynch with a wall of blockers in front. A couple perfect blocks from our linemen, combined with a sweet block in the back, allows us to get to the outside and using a flipped run, we totally avoided the defense's stacked front and his prediction on where the run was going.

Advanced Running Techniques: Controlling a Lead Blocker

By: Kyle Cooper

Believe it or not, lead blocking control can have significant benefits when used in certain situations. In this tip, we're going to take a look at two plays in particular where this feature turned a worthless play into a positive gain. We don't see this feature changing the way that people play Madden, but it's certainly entertaining and will have some value in some offensive schemes.

In our example, we've come out of the huddle with the Chicago Bears having called the HB Draw out of a shotgun formation to try to trick our opponent. As soon as quarterback Rex Grossman takes the snap we notice the weak defensive tackle coming off the line unblocked. The weak defensive tackle is already right in the face of our running back and we haven't even had a chance to get started. Our running back is dropped in the backfield for a big loss on the play. Why did that happen you ask? Well, the blocking scheme on this particular play typically allows the weak defensive tackle to come free every time when the opponent has pinched in his Defensive Line.

We could switch to another play, but we like the fact that our opponent is pinching his line because we think we might be able to get to the outside and turn this into an even bigger gain. To counter the unblocked defensive tackle we use the lead blocking control to take over the left guard. To make this change we cycle over to the player then press (360 - LB / PS3 - L1) before the snap. Our goal after the snap is to make sure that this lineman gets picked up so we can get up field.

Tip: The running back is the most dynamic player on the field in Madden. It's very important to get your running back involved in your passing game early and often. Play action passes, screens, flat routes, and short routes over the middle make the running back very dangerous. The running back is often the outlet or dump-down pass on other players where the first read is deeper downfield.

The computer controls the running back as soon as the play begins. However after we've secured a block on the weak defensive tackle we want to click back over the take control of the running back by pressing (360 - B / PS3 -O) on the controller. In our example, the play begins and we immediately run right into the weak defensive tackle. Next, we click back to the running back to try to find an opening in the line. We've already got back to the line of scrimmage, so the lead blocking control certainly helped out more than the last time we ran this play. We're able to squirm through a tight hole in the line to pick up a few yards just before getting hit. The end result on the play this time is a gain of six yards. On this particular play the different between using the lead blocking control and not using it was nine yards.

In this example, we've chosen to run a counter to the backside of the Offensive Line. This counter calls for the right guard to vacate his area and pull across the field to help make a lead block for the runner. Unfortunately, as you're about to see we need someone to help pick up the right guard's vacated area before we can even worry about following his lead block!

In our example, the play begins and our right guard moves in front of the quarterback across the field to try to lead the way for our runner. What's more important right now is the fact that the strong defensive tackle has begun attacking the vacated area. Our running back has just taken the ball as the defensive tackle closes in for the hit in the backfield. The defensive tackle blows this play up before it even got started.

Sometimes you don't have to worry about picking up the pressure, but simply just controlling someone else on the line to change the assignments. We've run this play enough to know that if we use the lead blocking control to take over the center the right tackle will actually slide over and pick up that pesky defensive tackle that continues to shoot the gap. Being able to control the center allows us to add yet another lead blocker without having to worry about getting hit in the backfield again.

The right tackle shuts down the defensive tackle as we switch back over to the running back to take control of him. The two linemen continue moving up the field as our fullback applies the first block on a defender. Perfect blocking allows us to get through the hole easily and try to turn this into a nice gain. Our running back get four yards up the field before he's approached by the a defender. A net gain of seven yards is well worth using the Lead Blocking Control on this play.

The Lead Blocking Control is a feature that is proven to be successful in certain situations. In fact, if somebody created an entire offensive scheme around this feature we'd imagine that it'd be pretty tough to stop. However, we just don't see that kind of dedication occuring with this feature. Expect to see it used sparingly, but unfortunately most people will probably only try it once and then quit.

Formation Audibles

By: Daniel Grundei

For those new to the game, formation audibles were on the XBox and PS2 version of Madden a few years ago, but never were added to the next-generation consoles until last year's edition. Formation audibles are a technique that allows for each playbook to have specific audibles for each formation, which can be called at the line of scrimmage. These audibles have some level of consistency, and are very useful when putting together an offensive scheme. Let's take a look at how this works.

In our example, we see that Tampa Bay has come out of the huddle in the Singleback Snugs formation. We use the Xbox 360 controls in our example. Load this up in practice mode and check out the play art that corresponds to each formation audible to see how it switches up your called play.

  • Press X + right on the right analog stick: For most formations, the right formation audible switches the play to a standard pass play.
  • Press X + down on the right analog stick: For most formations, the down formation audible switches the play to a running play.
  • Press X + left on the right analog stick: For most formations, the left formation audible switches the play to a play action play.
  • Press X + up on the right analog stick: For most formations, the up formation audible switches the play to a deep pass play.

While every formation is slightly different, you can be fairly confident that when you use your formation audibles, you're going to have a play action pass, a run, and two passes. By taking advantage of these formation audibles, you can really open up your playbook. And don't worry if you haven't memorized the formation audibles. With the addition of bluff play art, you can check your real play art on the field, and still disguise it from the defense.

Utilizing Player Packages to Create Mismatches

By: Daniel Grundei

Over the years, EA Sports has consistently tried to make Madden as much of a simulation as possible. However, that can be difficult when users continue to manipulate the game and play it in ways that weren't intended! One main obstacle EA has dealt with has been gamers placing players at odd positions. For instance, in Madden 03, users used to put Wide Receivers in at quarterback all game long, simply because the Wide Receivers were fast. EA countered by limiting the spots on the field that players can play. In an effort to give users more options, EA added player packages, which put players in different positions on the field. With these packages, there is quite a bit of flexibility. Here's how it works.

Have you ever wanted to add your Linebackers to your goal line package? The New England Patriots are famous for doing this, and EA has added a "Patriot" package to the Goal Line formation this year. To switch packages, simply scroll through them with the LB / RB buttons. The "Patriot" package places a linebacker in at fullback and at tight end.

Tip: Have you ever been playing Madden and wondered what blue routes on the play meant? Okay, so you know that the blue routes are delayed routes. A delayed route is one in which the receiver stays in to block initially, and then goes out for a route. The advantage of this is it can buy the quarterback extra time against the blitz; it can give zones time to drop back to create space for routes; or it can simply trick the defender into leaving the receiver alone.

Patriots' linebacker Mike Vrabel is positioned at tight end. In our example, he runs a corner route-and as you've seen on Sundays, can be amazing at using his big body to get open in the endzone. Vrabel slips toward the sideline and with a nice touch pass from Brady, Vrabel scores a touchdown. However, this isn't the only package that can be used in Madden. Take a look at another example of how to utilize packages.

In this example, the Patriots are calling the Shotgun Split Slot formation, with the "WR FB" package. This puts your top wide receiver in at the fullback spot. In our example, this puts speedy Randy Moss lined up as the fullback. This can create a match-up problem as likely a linebacker will be matched up on Moss-a huge speed mismatch. Call a play that sends Moss into the flat. In this example, the play starts and Moss breaks toward the sideline. Brady completes an easy reception to Moss, which goes for a nice gain.

As you can see, packages can be utilized in many different ways in Madden. Examples of other packages are added extra Offensive Linemen, for running situations, or a backup quarterback put in, for situations where you might want to run a QB Draw (for instance, on Seattle where the backup is a Speed QB). There are literally hundreds of packages in Madden 11. Make sure to browse the packages in your playbook to see if you can expand your offense.

Pick up the Blitz:Offensive Line Slide Protection

By: Daniel Grundei

If you've every played Madden in the past, you know the defense can bring serious pressure-Madden 11 is no different. Slide Protection is a technique that tells the Offensive Line where to go after the snap of the ball. Think Peyton Manning, pre-snap, telling the Offensive Linemen who to block. The best part is that slide protection actually works. Let's take a look at a few examples of how you can incorporate Slide Protection into your offensive scheme.

In our example, we're controlling the Cleveland Browns against the Baltimore Ravens. Now, the Baltimore Ravens are known for their unique blitz packages. In our example, the Ravens' have overloaded the right side of the line of scrimmage.

As the ball is snapped, the defense overloads the right side of the line. While the Offensive Line tries to react, they simply can't get over in time. Browns' quarterback Derek Anderson nearly gets his head ripped off (and wishes Brady Quinn was in on this snap).

To counter the defensive overload, we're going to use the Slide Protection. To do this, press the left rigger then move right on the left analog stick. You can see the Offensive Line blocking angles are now pointing to the right. In addition, you can see the WR, Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs, has a blocking angle to the right. When you call for slide protection, it makes all blockers slide. The WR will now work with the Offensive Line to create a pocket.

In our example, the Ravens' defense lines up again in an overloaded set. We anticipated the pressure coming from the right side, so we've called for slide protection to the right. Once the ball is snapped, the Offensive Line moves to the right to pick up defenders. The line does a great job of picking up the pressure, giving Derek Anderson the time needed to look down field and pick up a big gain.

Tip: Have you ever wanted to tell your receiver to change his route in the middle of the play? Now you can. By utilizing the playmaker feature, you can tell a receiver to change directions while the play is happening. It's not always as easy as it sounds: you can only playmaker one receiver at a time and since there could be five receivers at a time, it can be confusing. Generally, you're going to playmaker the closest receiver. Use the right analog stick during the play to direct the closest receiver.

Now let's take a look at another example of how to effectively use a blocking scheme to direct blockers. In this example we have both Wide Receivers running slant routes. Currently, the running back is going to the flats and the fullback has a standard blocking angle.

However, by keeping our backs in to block, they take a different blocking angle than usual: the running back blocks to the left and the fullback blocks to the right. Here's how it works: if the receiver (in this case the running back and fullback) is directly behind the center, and you call for a block (Y + Left Trigger / Right Trigger) and the receiver will block to the left / right. This can be very useful when trying to pick up pressure if you know where it's coming from.

In our example, let's take a look at what happens after the snap. Just as the ball is snapped, both backs move to the outside. This, coupled with slide protection down (makes the Offensive Line pinch), creates a very tight pocket, giving the quarterback plenty of time to make a throw. Again, the quarterback has all day to throw the ball. Both slant routes are open, and the quarterback gets to choose which side he wants to throw. Making sure you have time to throw the ball is essential to a pass play's success. Using slide protection, we created the time needed to move the chains.

In this example, we're going to show you how the slide protection can be effective in combination with play action passes. Play action plays can be very effective, but if the defense sniffs out the play action, this can often lead to a sack.

Let's take a look at how this play action play develops without the benefit of slide protection. The defense doesn't bite on the play action, and they come around the outside to put pressure on the QB. Derek Anderson again gets sacked. Now, let's examine how this play develops with slide protection.

By hitting left trigger then right on the left analog stick, we now have our blockers sliding to the right. Immediately after the snap, all the Offensive Line shift to the right. With the entire Offensive Line sliding together, it helps close gaps in the line, and creates great blocking. When Browns' quarterback Anderson does complete the play action fake, the entire defensive pass rush has been neutralized. In addition, the running back that performed the play action fake is now going out on a pass pattern while the defender responsible for guarding him is stuck in the middle of the Offensive Line because of our slide protection.

Here are the Offensive Line Slide Protection shifts.

  • Slide Protect Left: Shift blockers to the left.
  • Slide Protect Right: Shift blockers to the right.
  • Slide Protect Up: Make line more aggressive.
  • Slide Protect Down: Pinch Offensive Line to pick up middle pressure.

Make sure to take advantage of the Slide Protection feature. Slide protection can help pick up the blitz, create passing angles, and shore up play action blocking. But beware: if you slide protect in the wrong direction, you might see more pressure than you expected!

Create New Plays on the Fly

By: Daniel Grundei

Hot routes have been in Madden for many years. A hot route is when you tell your receiver at the line of scrimmage to run a different route than originally called. In Madden 11, it's not just hot routes that you're going to need to know how to perform. EA Sports has added "Smart Routes" to this year's game. A smart route tells the receiver to make sure their route goes just past the first down marker. For instance, it's 3rd down and 10 and your receiver is running a seven-yard curl. What good is a seven-yard curl on 3rd down and 10? By calling for a smart route, the receiver will now run a 10-yard curl-much more useful in the situation!

Now that you know what hot and smart routes are, let's take a look at the different options to use them and even combine them if needed. For all of these examples, we've kept everyone back to block, simply to keep those players out of the way. That is everyone except for Indianapolis Colts' wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Let's go over the different routes you can perform.

  • Push "Y" then the receiver icon (for instance, "X") then up on the left analog stick: the receiver performs a streak route. That's "Y" (trigger hot route) + X (receiver icon) + up (left analog stick).
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + down (left analog stick) = a curl route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (left analog stick) = an out route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (left analog stick) = an in route. Note that the in and out routes are dependent on which side of the field you're currently on. So if Reggie Wayne is on the right side of the field, this button sequence would make Wayne do the same route but instead it's considered an out route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + up (right analog stick) = fade route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (right analog stick) = slant out route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (right analog stick) = slant in route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + down (right analog stick) = drag route.

Now here's where things get a little trick yet very interesting. We're going to combine hot routes and smart routes to show you how powerful these can be. In this example, first call for a slant out route: "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (right analog stick). Then call for a smart route: "Y" (trigger hot routes) + "X" (receiver icon) + click on the right analog stick. The result is a deeper version of the slant out! Here are some examples:

  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (right analog stick) = slant inside + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep slant inside.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + down (left analog stick) = curl route + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep curl route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + left (left analog stick) = in route + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep in route.
  • "Y" (trigger hot route) + "X" (receiver icon) + right (left analog stick) = out route + "Y" + "X" + click on the right analog stick = deep out route.

As you can see, there are several options when it comes to changing routes at the line of scrimmage. The addition of the smart route gives you more control over what happens on the field. You must remember that when it comes to smart routes, the route will change depending on the first down marker. If it's 2nd down and 16, the smart route will be deeper than a 3rd down and three play. Experiment with smart routes and hot routes in practice mode and make sure you understand how to use them. You never know when the game is going to come down to converting a 4th and 12!

Audible to Create Mismatches

By: Daniel Grundei

Audibles have always been a part of Madden. Sometimes, audibles can put player in positions they don't traditionally play and often this leads to quite an advantage for the offense. Some gamers will call this a Madden 11 cheat, but it's just the nature of the Madden gameplay. Let's take a look at how you can use a strategic audible to place intense pressure on the defense.

The New England Patriot offense comes out in a Goal Line formation with Randy Moss lined up as the outside tight end. Accomplish this with the "WR Wing" package. The defense has countered by calling a Goal Line formation and Jam Cover 1 defense.

Tip: Probably the most important factor to running a good offense is being able to tell what the defensive coverage-man or zone-is before the snap. Here are a few techniques. Are defenders lined up directly across your receiver or off to the side then slide in front? If they start lined up directly, it's man coverage; if they slide in, it's zone. Call a bunch formation and watch the differences. Another way to tell is to use motion. If the defender follows the receiver all the way across to the other side of the line, it's man. You can also try flipping the play at the line-if the defenders follow their man, it's man coverage. Otherwise, it's zone.

Tom Brady recognizes the potential mismatch and audibles to a Gun formation. To do this, simply hit the X button and then call your audible. You need to make sure this play is set in your audibles before the play. Now let's see what happens to dynamic receiver Randy Moss. He is still lined up as a tight end and has a linebacker guarding him! Most defensive backs can't keep up with Randy Moss, so it's obvious that no linebacker is going to run with Moss downfield.

The key to utilizing your audibles is to know what you want to accomplish on offense and know how to attack different kinds of defense. In this example, we came out in a Goal Line play then audibled to the Gun formation. If the defense comes out in a passing defense, simply run the ball out of Goal Line. If the defense comes out in a heavy run stopping defense, audible to Gun. As a good offensive Madden gamer, you need to dictate the flow of play to the defense. Audibles are a great way to accomplish this.

Relearning to Throw the Deep Ball

By: Daniel Grundei

You drop back to pass and you see the receiver get behind the cornerback by a step. You execute an easy tap of the button to perform a deep lob 40 yards downfield. The receiver catches the ball in stride for a touchdown! That was the Madden of the past-not Madden 11. You can still go deep, but it's much more difficult.

The deep ball mechanics have changed dramatically. This is something that every Madden gamer should take note of and make sure to understand. We're going to explain how the deep ball works and how best to utilize the deep throw. To do this, we're going to break down four different types of deep throws. Then we'll explain why two of the throws work and two don't. It doesn't matter how experienced of a Madden player you are-you need to understand this tip!

Each of the throws in this example will be performed against a Man Cover 2 defense. In our example, we've used the Detroit Lions. We're also going to roll out in each example, simply to buy us enough time to throw deep. In our first example, Kitna sees Calvin Johnson behind the defense and decides to attempt a deep throw. However, Kitna's feet aren't set. He's trying to throw on the run, and that just isn't a good idea this year!

The throw is well under thrown, and although Johnson was behind the defense, the defender recovered to make the interception. Why was this an interception? It's all about the quarterback mechanics. This throw should never have been attempted. You need to make sure your quarterback has time to set his feet and launch the ball deep downfield. But it's not all about setting your feet. You need to understand the nuances of Madden 11. Take a look at the next example.

In our next example, we attempt a more traditional deep Madden lob. In years past, if you see the receiver get behind the defense, simply tap the receiver icon, and the ball lobs deep downfield to the streaking receiver. The ball typically hits the receiver in stride for a touchdown. EA wanted to change the deep ball and have. First, take note of the quarterback's mechanics. When tossing the deep ball, the quarterback puts his entire body into the throw. The motion takes longer to perform and means if you get hit while the throw is being made, the throw is going to be short. Make sure you do in fact have time to throw the ball deep.

In our example, Detroit Lions' wide receiver Calvin Johnson is behind both the defenders. Quarterback Jon Kitna performs the deep lob-tapping the receiver icon button. The longer you press the receiver icon, the more of a bullet pass it becomes. Calvin Johnson has a step on both defenders. If the ball is thrown ahead of Johnson, this is a touchdown, right? While the ball is in the air, the defenders catch up to Johnson. The amazing thing about this is that both defenders are several speed points slower than Johnson. Shouldn't Johnson be the one pulling away? Now the defenders have both run past the receiver by two yards. The defense tracks the deep lob in an amazing way this year!

Not only did the defense get behind the receiver. They had time to strafe up and prepare to catch the pass. Johnson has very little chance against two defenders facing the ball. Why did we get this result? The deep lob has been changed. If you let you receiver get downfield far enough to beat the safety, you simply can't use the deep lob. You can lob the ball if the defense is playing bump and run coverage, with no safety help over the top. But that lob has to come within the first twenty yards or so. After that, the lob doesn't work. So what type of deep ball will work?

Tip: For years Michael Vick was the most used, or should I say overused, player in Madden. His mobility gave the offensive team more options and made it easier to execute a gameplan. Often times, though, first time Madden players pick a mobile quarterback and simply try to run around to buy time. It's true, but it's short-sighted. There are several benefits, including the able to create better passing angles, scramble for yardage, and execute better play action passes. But usually the mobile quarterbacks lack the accuracy or throwing power of pocket passers. Also, when scrambling for yardage, slide! Don't take an unnecessary hit.

This pass isn't a "deep'" pass per se. The key here is you see that the receiver has a step on the defense. But when you let the receiver get more than about 35 yards downfield, the quarterback mechanics change. Instead of the deep lob, let's take another example with a 30-yard bullet pass. Instead of tapping the button, we'll hold down the receiver icon button when making the throw.

When performing this pass, Detroit Lions' quarterback Jon Kitna starts his motion and steps into his throw. Kitna's hips don't drop and it's a very compact movement. It's a qiuck release with great mechanics. Jon Kitna gets this animation because of the user's stick work to face Kitna perfectly to the line of scrimmage and because of the receiver's location on the field. When not going into the full deep ball mechanics, the quarterback simply can't throw any further, so the timing of this throw is critical. Now let's take a look at the deepest bullet pass.

In our example, Jon Kitna is ready to throw the ball deep with no defenders around him. This is important because this pass takes some time to perform. Watch the mechanics closely. Also, remember, this isn't a deep lob-it's a deep bullet. To perform this, hold down on the receiver button.

Try it in practice and watch Kitna's mechanics. The quarterback makes his first move toward the line of scrimmage. He's gearing up to throw the ball deep. Now his feet are back together-he makes a slide step to get his lower body into the throw. Now notice how Kitna drops his back shoulder and bends his back knee. He wants to leverage his entire body to get the ball as deep as possible. The motion that Kitna is making really allows him to heave the ball downfield. Notice he's ready to release the ball, but it much lower than he was for the shorter version of the deep pass. He finally releases the ball. How far did he throw it? A little farther than the previous example!

It's important to understand what throws you can make and which throws you can't make. The throwing mechanics have changed this year enough that some throws that you've made in the past simply aren't going to work this year. With the defense able to react so much faster, one bad pass is likely going to be an interception and not just a deflected pass. Work on your deep passing game in practice mode before risking the deep ball in live game action.

Controlling the Receiver During the Play

By: Daniel Grundei

Controlling the receiver during the play can be one of the most fun things to do in Madden 11. Most gamers haven't taken full advantage of this technique, but there are strategies that can make this very effective. If you've ever been frustrated at watching your receiver run bad routes or not get off the bump, now you can take control of the receiver and do it yourself!

In order to take control of your receiver before the snap, you will need to cycle to the receiver and click the "LB" button. The ring around the receiver will now turn light blue. For this example, put the receiver in motion and we'll show you how to create a very unique route. Snap the ball just as the receiver nears the tight end on that side of the field.

After the ball has been snapped, immediately run back and to the left with the receiver. Check out the receiver's position now. You will never get bumped if you're not moving toward the line! Even better, the defender is trying to chase the receiver around your Offensive Line's right tackle.

We run across the line of scrimmage and behind the line. Our Offensive Line picks up the defender guarding the receiver and pancakes him! Now our wide receiver is running wide open on the opposite side of the line. In our example, Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning swings the ball to Marvin Harrison. This is done because as we get open, we hit the "A" button to call for the ball. This action triggers the throw by Peyton Manning.

It is highly recommended to only do this technique with a quarterback with very high awareness. The reason for this is if you don't get open quickly enough, the quarterback will throw the ball. You don't want a rookie quarterback out there making decisions to throw into coverage! A quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady with high awareness will rarely make throws into coverage. Also, make sure the route you want to run is short. Sit in soft spots against zone coverage and run away from man-to-man coverage. This technique takes some practice, but is very fun to execute during the game.

Defensive Formations and Playbooks

This section provides coverage of Madden 08's defensive formations and playbooks and provides tips on using defensive shifts and playmaker modes to stop the opposition's offense.

Defensive Formations and Packages

The table below covers all formations, reveals the personnel and packages, and offers some tips on when and when not to use them.

FORMATIONDESCRIPTIONPACKAGESADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
Goal LineRun prevent in short yardage situations, specifically third or fourth and short or on the goal line.Safety Swap, Jumbo, 3 DT, Strong, LB EndsPacked defense to prevent the short run. There are a lot of tacklers near the line of scrimmage.Audible to another defense if the offense changes formation. So many defenders near the line can be disastrous if a running back breaks through.
4-3 NormalFour Defensive Linemen, three Linebackers, four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB Flip, DE FlipA balanced run and pass defense. Good against inside runs and short to medium passing.Avoid using against four or more receiver sets (even three is risky). Blitzing Linebackers can leave slants and outside runs open.
4-3 Over, UnderMoves an outer linebacker to the line for five Defensive Linemen, two Linebackers, and four defensive backs (Over and Under refers to different sides of the line).CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, LB Flip, DE Flip Increased pass rush possibilities. Protect against inside and outside runs.Vulnerable to the passing game and fewer Linebackers in the middle could mean fewer tacklers if the back breaks the line.
3-4 NormalThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubA balanced run and pass defense. Defends outside runs and flat passes.Softer pass rush, though more blitz variation with extra Linebackers. Vulnerable to multiple receiver sets.
3-4 Over, UnderThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. An outside linebacker tightens up the edge of the line (Over and Under refers to different sides of the line).CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubIncreased pass rush with linebacker at the line.Fewer Linebackers defending the short passes. Vulnerable to multiple receiver sets.
3-4 SolidThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. Both outside Linebackers crowd the line.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubIncreased pass rush opportunities and disguised blitzing. Stuff the run with increased penetration.Vulnerable to quick passes if outside Linebackers blitz. Avoid against multiple receiver sets.
3-4 EvenThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. Outside Linebackers crowd the line and middle Linebackers tighten up.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, SS at LBBalanced run stoppage for inside and outside runs.Tighter formation could be vulnerable to the pass.
3-4 StackThree Defensive Linemen, four Linebackers, and four defensive backs. Resembles a 4-3 in alignment.CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Flip, OLB Flip, MLB Flip, DE Flip, Dline SubA 4-3 look for your excellent Linebackers. Variation in pass rushing for fast outside Linebackers.Avoid using against heavy passing situations.
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 4-3 but safety provides extra run stopping support. Pressuring defense.Vulnerable to deep passes with just one safety back. Avoid using against heavy passing situations and multiple receiver sets.
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 and pressure.Weak pass defense. Avoid using against multiple receiver sets.
Nickel NormalFour Defensive Linemen, two Linebackers, five defensive backs.Strong Nickel, Strong Shift, CB Swap, Safety Swap, LOLB Right, LOLB Left, LB Swap, Big NickelAn 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.Losing a linebacker means losing a good tackler. Use packages to ensure best corners are against best receivers. Your nickel back isn't as skilled as your starters, usually.
Nickel StrongSame as nickel but shifts the safety toward the strong side.Strong Nickel, Strong Shift, CB Swap, Safety Swap, LOLB Right, 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 1-5-5, 1-5-5 ProwlOne Defensive Lineman, five Linebackers, five defensive backs. Crowded line of scrimmage with basically one MLB (prowl with two). Found in the New England playbook.DE Pass Rush, MLB Swap (MLB 2 in Prowl), OLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, SS Nickel, FS NickelFive Linebackers help defend against a run and five defensive backs help defend the pass. Allows for some blitzing variation.Can be a weak run defense if your Linebackers focus on coverage.
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 NickelAdded Linebackers help defend against an unexpected run. In the 3-4 playbook because of the team's typical linebacker skill.Need to increase pass rush with linebacker pressure.
Nickel 3-3-5Three Defensive Linemen, three Linebackers and five defensive backs.4th CB, OLB Flip, Safety NB, Safety Flip, DE Flip, CB FlipAn added linebacker to defend the run or short passing.Need to increase pass rush with linebacker pressure.
Dime NormalFour Defensive Linemen, one linebacker, six defensive backs.ROLB, LOLB, CB Swap, LB Pass Rush, Safety Swap, D-Line SubSix defensive backs to counter the passing game. Use against four or more wide receiver sets.Weak against an unexpected run.
Dime FlatSame as dime but closes Safeties in and backs off corners.ROLB, LOLB, CB Swap, DE Swap, DT Swap, LB RushDefenders are tighter and closer to the line to protect against run or short passing. Good for end zone defense.Weaker against deep passing.
Quarters NormalThree Defensive Linemen, one linebacker, seven defensive backs.Linebackers, LB Pass Rush, LOLB, ROLB, CB Flip, Safety Swap, Slot CB Flip, SS Tight Seven defensive backs as a pass prevent defense.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 Swap, Dline SubThree deep Safeties to protect against the deep ball. Use in long yardage situations.Easy to run against.
Quarters ComboCombination of Quarters normal and 3 deep.ROLB Swap, CB Swap, Safety Swap, Coverage Swap, Slot Swap, LB Pass Rush, LOLB Swap, Dline SubProtects against the deep ball with three deep Safeties.Easy to run against.
Dollar NormalEight defensive backs.FS Sub, MLB/ROLB Swap, MLB/LOLB Swap, Safety Flip, CB Strong RT, CB Strong LT, Safeties, D-Line Sub, Quarter Eight players focused on stopping the pass. Use in certain passing situations (long yardage) or even in the red zone to crowd the end zone.You have a lot of bad tacklers on the field if your opponent runs the ball!

Default Formation Playbooks

This chart reveals which specific defensive formations are featured within each default, non-team specific defensive playbook.

PLAYBOOK4-3 DEFENSES3-4 DEFENSES46 DEFENSESNICKEL DEFENSESDIME DEFENSESDOLLAR DEFENSESQUARTER DEFENSES
4-3Normal, Over, UnderNoneNormalNormal, Strong, 3-3-5Normal, FlatNormalCombo
3-4NoneNormal, Over, Under, Solid, Even, StackNone3-3-5, Strong, 2-4-5NormalNormal3 Deep
Cover 2Normal, Under, OverNoneNoneNormal, 3-3-5, StrongNormal, FlatNormalCombo
46OverNoneNormal, BearNormal, Strong, 3-3-5Normal, FlatNormalCombo
Multiple DNormalNormal, Under, StackNormal2-4-5, 3-3-5, 1-5-5NormalNormalCombo

Defensive Shifts

After you've called your defensive formation and personnel, you can still make adjustments to your current alignment. You can make shifts to the line, Linebackers, or defensive backs to guard against your opponent's tendencies or expected play. Make these adjustments using the left analog stick on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

POSITIONSHIFTS (LEFT ANALOG STICK)COMMENTARY
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.
Defensive BacksPut defensive backs into press coverage, put defensive backs in loose coverage, show blitz or align coverage.Press coverage with Press Coverage corners and to slow down receiver routes; play looser against expected deep passes. Show blitz to disguise coverage, confuse blockers, and perhaps force opponent to throw earlier.

The following table reveals further global adjustments that can be made to the Defensive Line, Linebackers and defensive backs. Make these adjustments using the right analog stick on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Use these adjustments to counter an expected offensive play, perhaps to disrupt the direction of a run play or to call an impromptu blitz.

POSITIONADJUSTMENTS (RIGHT ANALOG STICK)COMMENTARY
Defensive LineCrash the line left, crash the line right, crash the line outside, or crash the line inside.Adjust the line depending on where you think the run play will go. Crash left or right against runs expected in those directions. Crashing outside can help guard against either and inside against inside runs.
LinebackersBlitz the left linebacker, blitz the right linebacker, hook zones for all Linebackers (up), blitz all Linebackers (down).Change your defensive call at the linebacker position with these hot routes. Add pass rush to the left or right side (or all) with linebacker pressure or call them back into a zone to protect the middle of the field.
Defensive BacksShift deep zones left, right, or out.Shift deep zone coverage toward the side of the field with more receivers.

Defensive Playmaker

By: Kyle Cooper from SportsGamer

When attempting to play Madden at a high level the standard defenses provided within the game aren't always enough to stop certain opponents. Sometimes to cover a particular part of the field or stop that annoying running quarterback it's going to take a manual adjustment to one of your defenders before the snap to stop it. Fortunately, EA has done a great job of giving users the defensive tools necessary to counter almost any offense. Below we're going to showcase all of the possible pre-snap individual player adjustments that can be made to help get you ready for the Madden 11 season!

  • To assign a defender to blitz, cycle to that player and "A" on the 360 and "X" on the PS3 and move the right analog stick down.
  • In case your opponent thinks about taking off with the quarterback, assign a defender to a QB spy. Do so by using "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the right analog stick left.
  • If your opponent is constantly hitting his running back out of the backfield in the flats, then you may want to consider placing your defender in a flat zone. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the right analog stick to the right.
  • A good way to stop curl routes or corner routes is to hot route a defender into a buzz zone. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the left analog stick to the right.
  • Most Linebackers can't cover downfield very effectively; however, utilizing deep zones with any onf your front seven defenders can prove to be beneficial because often times the player's lack of speed places him in perfect position underneath of the receiver to swat away the pass. Also, using a defender up front can provide you with some much needed height in the secondary to deal with those tall receivers. To hot route a defender to perform a deep zone, select the desired player and press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the right analog stick up.
  • Hook zones are a great way to slow down slants and deep ins over the middle of the field. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the left analog stick up.
  • Hot routing a defender to perform a QB Contain is another way you can attempt to slow down a running quarterback. Press "A" (360) or "X" (PS3) and move the left analog stick down. QB Contain routes typically will not attack the quarterback until he approaches the defender's area, so do not use this assignment if you're expecting to create a pass rush.
  • To hot route a defender to play man-to-man coverage on someone, select the defender and press "A + receiver's icon" (360) or "X + receiver's icon" (PS3) and move the right analog stick left. Being able to place a defender in man-to-man coverage on a receiver is a great way to make sure you account for all of your opponent's on the field.
  • The ultimate man-to-man defense on your opponent's #1 receiving threat is to double team him. Hot routing a defender to double team a receiver can be done the exact same way that you assign a defender to man-to-man coverage; do so when you already have a corner in man-to-man against that receiver. Double teaming a receiver doesn't always mean that the defense will make a play on the ball; however, it does mean that the offensive player will have a much tougher time consistently hanging onto the ball since two players will be hitting him after the catch instead of one.

Defensive Training Camp

Learning the Defensive Formations

By: Kyle Cooper

Having the right personnel on the field on defense can be the difference between winning and losing. In this section, we'll break down the different defensive formation to provide a better understanding of what you should expect when exiting the huddle.

The first formation we're going to take a look at is the 4-3. It's called the 4-3 because there are four Defensive Linemen and three Linebackers on the field. This defense is typically decent at stopping the run and good against users who enjoy running offenses from bigger sets. This formation should avoid against opponents who like to throw every play with four and five receiver sets.

The 3-4 defense is similar to the 4-3, only there's one more linebacker and one less Defensive Linemen on the field. This is another defense that should be used against bigger sets because you don't want to leave your Linebackers matched up in man-to-man coverage on receivers. However, some teams may be able to get away with using a 3-4 against spread offenses if they have a fast group of Linebackers.

The 46 defense is one of the most popular defensive formations in the game. The personnel is the same as the 4-3, but the ability to bring consistent pressure and stop the run with more regularity is enough for many users to make this their base defense throughout an entire game. However, spread sets can beat this defense if pressure isn't applied on the quarterback.

Tip: One of the most important keys to creating a solid defense is being able to disguise your play calling. The truth is many Madden players out there just don't realize how easily this can be done within the same formation. Each defensive formation in the game has been provided with a group of four pre-set formation audibles that can be used to quickly go back and forth between zone and man coverage. Before the snap hit "X" on the 360 or "Square" on the PS3 and use the right analog stick up for Man Cover 2, right for Cover 3 Zone, left for Cover 2 Zone, and down for a blitz.

The Nickel 3-3-5 has three Defensive Linemen, three Linebackers, and five defensive backs. Many Madden players love the flexibility of this defense because it matches up fairly well against both big and spread sets. This flexibility allows players to counter opponents who like to audible up and down throughout the course of a game. A couple of downsides to this defense include the lack of pressure on the quarterback and the inability to consistently stop the run. Both of these weaknesses can be fixed with manual movements before the snap, but it certainly takes some work.

The Nickel 1-5-5 is one of the more unique defenses in the game. This defense calls for five Linebackers, five defensive backs, and just one Defensive Lineman. Needless to say, pressure from this defense isn't always easy or consistent. Furthermore, stopping the run with this formation takes a lot of work. The best part about this defense is that the player is able to move ten players anywhere on the field. The only player that cannot be moved with resetting to his original position is the Defensive Lineman. This defense may be confusing for opponents at times, but there are just too many weaknesses for it to be used throughout the course of a game.

The Nickel 1-5-5 Prowl is basically the same defense as the Nickel 1-5-5, but the Defensive Linemen is standing up instead of in a three-point stance. The good thing about both the 1-5-5 and the Prowl is that you can mix both formations together and create a truly unique defense if perfected.

The Nickel Normal is another defense that is flexible enough to be used against multiple offensive sets. This defense provides us with four Defensive Linemen, two Linebackers, and five defensive backs. With six big defenders in the box we are able to create solid pressure, as well as slow down most running plays. This is a formation that is good to start a game because you don't risk getting beat deep and it forces your opponent to work up the field as you learn tendencies.

The Nickel Strong can be just as useful as the Nickel Normal formation. The two differences between the formations is that in the Strong formation the nickel back stands right next to the defensive end on the left side of the Offensive Line and the strong safety is about three to four yards closer to the line of scrimmage. Having the nickel back stand next to the defensive end allows for great blitzes around the outside. However, most people usually suspect blitz from that side in this formation while the Nickel Normal formation can bring an element of surprise.

The Dime Normal formation is best used for passing situations because it places four Defensive Linemen, one linebacker, and seven defensive backs on the field. Most people prefer to stick with a defense that can stop both the run and the pass, so not too many users throw out the Dime look for opponents.

The Quarters 3 Deep formation is great for long yardage situations. There's also a Quarters Normal formation, but in that formation there isn't a deep safety in the middle of the field. Many Madden gamers will take this defense and hot route two of the three Defensive Linemen to play zones underneath. Obviously, this means that there's only one defender rushing after the quarterback, but when you've got ten other players in coverage downfield that doesn't always seem to matter.

The Goal Line formation is typically only used inside the ten yardline. However, this is a formation that can be productive against big offensive sets. The problem with coming out of the huddle having called a Goal Line defense is running into those opponents who audible up and down numerous times before the snap. You don't want to get caught trying to guard four and five receivers with your Goal Line personnel package on the field.

The best defenses to use are formations that can do a little bit of everything. It's probably going to be to your benefit to start every game by coming out in the Nickel Normal or 46 Normal defense until you get a feel for what your opponent is trying to do offensively. These formations are great because they can guard against both the run and the pass effectively. Also, these formations can bring consistent pressure as well. With that said, once you begin to start looking deeper into your defensive schemes you're going to want to consider which formations really allow you to utilize your strengths on the field.

Understanding Defensive Coverages

By: Kyle Cooper

Knowing the different defensive coverages in Madden is the first step towards becoming a better player. In this article, we check out all of the different defensive coverages available in Madden 11 to help you know what you should be looking for on the field. Take a look below as we walk you through each one step by step.

Take a look at the basic man cover 2 defense. They call this defense a cover 2 because we are provided with two deep zones downfield. Cover 2 defenses are the most commonly used by Madden gamers because they provide users with a safety net on both sides of the field if one of their Cornerbacks happens to get beat deep.

Check out the cover 1 defense. A cover 1 defense has just one defender playing in a deep zone downfield. The reason cover 1 defenses are used is not only because it still provides one safety net over the top, but now we're also able to use an extra defender to rush or help cover if needed.

The reason behind using a cover 0 defense is typically to get to the quarterback as quickly as possible. Obviously, there's no help deep in case one of your Cornerbacks get beat, so getting immediate pressure on the opponent is key. Cover 0 defenses aren't used very often because the risk is simply too high for the reward.

Cover 3 defenses are certainly popular, but more so when playing a zone. Many Madden gamers like to turn to the Quarters 3 Deep: 3 Deep Man when they've forced their opponent into a third and long situation. The reason this defense is a good choice in that particular situation is because everyone on offense is manned up and we've got plenty of help over the top. A cover 3 is usually good enough to stop a deep pass anywhere on the field.

Cover 2 zones are riskier than cover 2 man defenses because once the receivers have gotten behind the cornerback's flat zones they will have a one-on-one matchup with the Safeties, which more often than not favors the receiver. However, if the defense was a man defense, the Cornerbacks would have also been in the picture downfield. Most people like to use cover 2 zone defenses when their opponent gets inside the 10 to 15 yard line. A much shorter field to work with makes this defense very difficult to beat for opponents.

Tip: Defending against a mobile quarterback has always been one of the toughest things to do in Madden. Fortunately, there are more than enough tools in Madden 11 to slow down those opponents who have a run first mentality in the pocket. First, place defensive ends in QB contain assignment using hot routes or a play call. Second, call blitzes from the outside (corners and nickel backs). Third, have defenders in the flats that will attack the roll out. Finally, have a defender in QB spy on the quarterback.

Cover 4 defenses are about as good as you can get as far as covering deep across the entire the field. The only bad thing about using most cover 4 defenses is that the flats are usually left open. Just remember to stick to using this type of coverage when your opponent is in long yardage situations.

If a cover 4 defense is almost a good as you can get covering deep, then the prevent defense is as good as you can get. A prevent defense calls for nine defense to perform deep zones on the play. Obviously this is a defense that should only be used at the end of halves and games because there's no coverage anywhere underneath.

Another type of defense coverage that can be used is a man and zone combination. Combination defenses are great because on some formations it can appear to the opponent that you are in man coverage on everyone. Unique coverages such as this often confuse opponents into making poor decisions because they aren't using to seeing them as much on the field.

Another type of defensive coverage is a zone blitz. On this particular play we have our left cornerback (on the right side of the field) in the flats, a cover 3 over the top, and we are rushing five at the quarterback. Zone blitzes are a great way to force your opponent to have to make strong throws in the pocket. Otherwise, if a throw is rushed and the quarterback isn't able to get everything behind it because of the pressure it could result in a turnover.

The last type of coverage we'll be discussing is certainly different, but there are actually some stock plays in the game already that place your defensive end in man-to-man coverage. In addition to the man coverage, we also have a cover 3 over the top, as well as overload pressure coming from the backside of the line. This defense is certainly a combination of everything.

Playing good defense in Madden and in the NFL is about disguising your pressure and mixing your coverages. However, the first thing you need to understand is what the different coverages do. Also, be sure to use defensive hot routes on certain plays to try to create even more unique defensive looks for your squad. Getting stops this season won't be easy, but clearly you'll have the tools to make it happen!

Front-Seven Quick Control Guide

By: Kyle Cooper

There are a number of different options that users can utilize with the members of their front seven defenders. However, the truth is that most people out there don't make any pre-play adjustments, allowing their opponents to feel extremely comfortable in the pocket even before the play begins. By simply using and learning some of these basic movements in Madden 11 you can at least make your opponent think that pressure is coming even if you aren't bringing any. Check it out below!

The defensive formation that we'll be using to showcase all the different options up front is the 4-3 Normal. These movements will work with any formation, so be sure to try to incorporate them into your defensive scheme this season. The list below reveals adjustments that can be made to both the Defensive Linemen and Linebackers.

  • "LB" + left on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + left on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts your Defensive Line to the left. As a general rule, many Madden gamers choose to shift their Defensive Line to the side of the Offensive Line that has more players to protect against the run. For instance, because the offense is in the I Form Normal formation and the tight end is on the right side of the line those players would shift their Defensive Line to the right instead. This is a solid general rule of thumb, but it's certainly not set in stone as 100% effective.
  • "LB" + right on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + right on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts your Defensive Line to the right. Shifting the Defensive Line to one side or the other is often a good way to allow your defensive end to create pressure around the outside because it usually forces the tackle to have to block him straight up without any help.
  • "LB" + up on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + up on the left analog stick (PS3): Spreads the Defensive Line. Spreading the Defensive Line can create outside pressure, as well as prevent the quarterback from rolling out of the pocket too quickly.
  • "LB" + down on the left analog stick (360) or "L1" + down on the left analog stick (PS3): Pinches the Defensive Line in. Most people use the pinched in Defensive Line only when the opponent gets inside the five yard line to prevent a quick run up the middle.
  • "LB" + up on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + up on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line out. This changes the blitz angles at which our Defensive Linemen rush the quarterback. This can prevent the quarterback from getting outside of the pocket right away.
  • "LB" + right on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + right on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line to the right. Crashing the angles to the right will overload the right side of the Offensive Line, but the quarterback will be able to escape to the backside if he's quick enough.
  • "LB" + left on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + left on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line to the left. Again, this will put pressure on the left side of the Offensive Line, but the opposite side will be left open.
  • "LB" + down on the right analog stick (360) or "L1" + down on the right analog stick (PS3): Crashes the Defensive Line in. This is another change that typically will only be used inside the five yard line to prevent opponents from running up the middle too easily.
  • "RB" + right on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + right on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts Linebackers to the right. This shift is usually made to either overload one side of the Offensive Line with a blitz or to try to stop the run.
  • "RB" + left on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + left on the left analog stick (PS3): Shifts Linebackers to the left. Again, this change is typically made to show an overload blitz or to help stop the run.
  • "RB" + up on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + up on the left analog stick (PS3): Spreads the Linebackers. Spreading the Linebackers will provide better spacing on the field to help cover with, but it will also leave you a little thin up the middle when trying to stop the run.
  • "RB" + down on the left analog stick (360) or "R1" + down on the left analog stick (PS3): Pinches the Linebackers. Pinching the Linebackers is another tactic that you will normally only see in short yardage situations to help against quick runs up the middle.
  • "RB" + left or right on the right analog stick (360) or "R1" + left or right on the right analog stick (PS3): Outside left or right linebacker to blitz. Blitzing either one of your outside Linebackers in this fashion is a good way to surprise your opponent off the end with pressure without having to give your movements away by manually doing it before the snap.
  • "RB" + down on the right analog stick (360) or "R1" + down on the right analog stick (PS3): Blitz all of the Linebackers. Using this option is certainly risky, but if you get to the quarterback it could pay off big time.
  • "RB" + up on the right analog stick (360) or "R1" + up on the right analog stick (PS3): Send Linebackers into hook zones. Madden gamers rarely use this option because having three of the exact same zones in the same area of the field is far too crowded.

We want to show one more quick option that can be made on the field that many people are unaware of. The option that we're referring to can be used when cycling through the different defenders on defense. We all know that hitting (360 - B / PS3 - O) repeatedly before the snap will allow us to move from player to player as we decide who we are going to control during the play. However, there's a quicker way to move through each player on the field. Instead of repeatedly hitting the button, hold down (360 - B / PS3 - O) and use the directional pad we can quickly switch our player control to a member on the Defensive Line.

By holding the cycle players button and pressing down on the d-pad our player control instantly moved to the left defensive end. Learning how to cycle through your players the quickest way possible is vital to making sure you get your defense set up in time before the play begins.

If you haven't been using any of the shifts available to your front seven defenders you've been missing out. With Madden 11 out now, maybe this should be the first year that you give it a try to take your defense to another level. Even showing your opponent the appearance of a blitz is enough for most people to have to make an adjustment before the snap on offense.

Disguising Bump and Run Coverage

By: Kyle Cooper

Many Madden players like their Cornerbacks to apply bump and run coverage on the receivers after the snap. The reason this type of coverage is so popular is because it slows the progress of the receivers up the field, providing extra time for the defense to apply pressure on the quarterback. Because so many players choose to use bump and run coverage, most people try to get comfortable by consistently practicing different ways to beat it. Still, if you can learn to disguise your bump and run coverage before the snap you can throw off your opponent's timing. Read below to discover some of the options that defenses have to disguise the bump in Madden 11.

In our example, we're using the Carolina Panthers in a Dime Man Cover 2 defense. We want to use bump n' run coverage on this play, so we prepare to make the change before the snap. On the 360 press "Y" + down on the left analog stick and on the PS3 press "Triangle" and down on the left analog stick before the snap. Our Cornerbacks move up closer to the receivers near the line of scrimmage. However, there's one more change that we want to make before we're completely ready for the offense to snap the ball.

The last change we make is resetting the play by pressing "X" + left trigger on the 360 and "Square" plus "L2" on the PS3. By calling for bump and run coverage before the snap and then resetting the play our Cornerbacks don't appear that they are going to bump the receivers anymore because they moved back to their original spots on the field. However, even though we reset the play our Cornerbacks will still apply the bump on the receivers, only this time it will be slightly delayed.

The best way to use the delayed bump and run coverage is to make the changes immediately out of the huddle. If you make the changes before your defenders get set your opponent won't see your Cornerbacks move closer, therefore preventing him from getting a read on whether your defense is bumping or not.

Another way to disguise the bump and run coverage is to use a zone defense. In this example, we've come out in the Dime Cover 3 Zone to try to mix things up. Next, we make the call for bump and run coverage on the outsides once again. Our opponent clearly sees our Cornerbacks move up on the line of scrimmage to show that the bump is coming. However, we know that when our Cornerbacks are playing a deep zone (dark blue) they will not bump the receivers off the line of scrimmage no matter the pre-snap adjustment.

This can lead to confusion as your opponent looks for the bump and run coverage to occur but instead the cornerback gets up field faster than expected. The throwing window may have passed making the throw later than desired. This means your defenders have a greater chance of breaking up the passing play.

Disguising the bump and run coverage can be just as important as disguising your play-calling. Another option you may want to consider is calling for bump and run coverage, and then manually moving each of one your Cornerbacks back to provide an even later bump after the play has begun. However, it's important to remember that if you choose to do this you don't want to move your players back too far or they won't bump the receiver at all.

Shutdown a Receiver with the Spotlight

By: Kyle Cooper

The idea behind spotlighting a player is to make sure that the receiver essentially has two defenders on him at all time. The way that spotlighting works is any defender who is playing a zone will help out on the spotlighted player when he enters their area on the field. Spotlighting a player in Madden 11 definitely works and should be used quite a bit against some of the upper echelon receivers in the league. Check out the examples below to see first hand how spotlighting a receiver can improve your defense this year!

In our example, the New England Patriots have come out of the huddle with a goal of hitting wide receiver Randy Moss deep downfield. The defense that we've come out in with the New York Jets has basic man-to-man coverage with two deep Safeties playing over the top. We're going to run through this play the first time without using the spotlighting feature to allow you to see how the Safeties react.

As soon as quarterback Tom Brady receives the snap the strong safety on the right side of the field makes an initial break toward Moss. Unfortunately, it's the strong safety's second move on the field that makes us wish we had used the spotlighting feature. You'll see the strong safety has now squared up on the quarterback and is in no position to try to turn and run with a speedster like Randy Moss. The strong safety now finally turns and begins to try to run with Moss.

Tip: Sometimes you don't have to be flashy in order to be successful. Using the swat button instead of always going for the interception may not be as much fun, but it certainly has a higher chance of accomplishing what you want to happen-which is disrupting the offensive play! Go into this season with a goal of not giving up easy touchdowns and start utilizing the swat more to make your opponents really work on offense.

The bad news is he doesn't have the speed or the angle to prevent Moss from getting behind him at this point in the play. Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady sets his feet and prepares to make the deep throw across the field to Moss. Meanwhile, the safety remains slightly ahead of Moss at this point, but slightly ahead won't be enough to stop the pass once the ball is in the air. Brady fires the pass as Moss is already almost dead even with the strong safety. As the ball approaches Moss begins to widen the gap between himself and these two members of the Jets' secondary. The deep pass from Brady is completed to Moss; he's able to get behind the entire New York defense with ease.

Now let's take a look at the exact same play, only this time we'll be using the spotlight receiver feature to focus the Jets' defense on the electrifying Randy Moss.

We make the quick call to spotlight Moss by pressing right trigger + receiver icon on the 360 or "R2" + receiver icon on the PS3 before the snap. You can only spotlight one receiver per play, so don't waste your time trying to spotlight every receiver on the field. In our example now, our deep safety makes an initial break towards Moss as soon as Brady takes the snap. The difference in the play this time is our strong safety continues running toward Moss instead of standing flat-footed closer towards the middle of the field-spotlight!

At this point in the play our strong safety is moving deeper down the field as he lines up directly in front of Moss. Our defender is in a much better position to try to stop the deep ball now because he realized his biggest responsibility much quicker than he did before without the spotlight receiver feature being used.

When Brady rolls out of the pocket once again and attempts to throw deep to Moss. Our safety is running at full speed and still remains a couple yards in front of Moss. As the ball closes in our safety continues to run at full speed and has great inside position on Moss. Even against the speed of Randy Moss our much slower strong safety is now in position to make a play. Our safety uses his great inside position to leap into the air in an attempt to make a play on the ball at its highest point. Moss is behind the defense now, but that's only because our strong safety broke off his coverage to try to make the interception.

One way to counter opponents that like to abuse the spotlight receiver feature is to use your main threat as a decoy. In our next example, we've hot routed Moss to perform a curl route instead of going deep because we suspect that our opponent will be spotlighting him once again. Our goal on this play is to get the strong safety to commit to Moss early, allowing our tight end to get open over the middle against one-on-one coverage.

As soon as Brady takes the snap the strong safety runs over to help on Moss once again. Our tight end has a little extra room over the middle of the field to operate with one of the Safeties out of the picture now. Try this out and you can see the strong safety totally committed to Moss on the right side of the field as our tight end prepares to make his break over the middle. New England tight end Ben Watson cuts to the inside and we make a high pass with quarterback Tom Brady.

Spotlighting a receiver is a great way to try to take out your opponent's best threat on the field. Many people have had trouble stopping players like Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress for years, but now this feature should likely force opponent's to have to look to throw somewhere else on the field more often. However, like everything, it can be countered with some savvy offensive play in Madden 11.

The Art of the Click-Off

By: Kyle Cooper

Being able to make manual plays in Madden is definitely something to be proud of. However, often there's a smarter way to do things on defense. In this tip, we're going to showcase a couple different examples of when it's beneficial to click off of the player you're manually controlling to make the play. Read below as we take you step by step through the breakdown.

To manually make a tackle on a ballcarrier in the open field can be extremely difficult sometimes. The biggest reason open field tackles are so challenging is because the runner is typically approaching at full speed, while your defender is often flat-footed and therefore much slower to react.

In our example, the Houston Texans have just pitched the ball out wide to running back Ahman Green. As soon as Green hauls in the toss we quickly click on to the closest defender in position to make the tackle and try to bring him down. Green slightly moves to the inside and we follow to try to make the tackle. Unfortunately, Green has already built up a lot more speed than our defender is currently moving at, allowing him to make much quicker cuts on the field.

One quick spin to the outside by Green and our defender is left in the dust. By manually controlling the defender as we try to make the open field tackle we are placing so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Furthermore, when Green gets by us there's no help on the sidelines because wide receiver Andre Johnson is about to make a block on the next closest defender. Green turns the corner and heads up field for a huge gain simply because we got caught out of position trying to make the tackle.

In the next example, our opponent attempts to pitch the ball out wide to Green once again. However, we're going to defend against this play by clicking off of the cornerback when the time is right. Green receives the ball and looks to get to the outside. Our cornerback recognizes the run and peels off the receiver to try to help make the tackle on Green. At this point in the play we manually click on the cornerback and sprint towards the ball carrier. Our goal this time is to place our defender in a position to make the tackle, and then click off to let the computer take control of him.

Our defender is now in position and we prepare to click off to let the computer take control. The two reasons we click off the defender once he's in position is not only because the computer is better at consistently making open field tackles, but also because now we can take control of the second closest defender and hold the sprint button to get him involved in the play as well.

Tip: It's important that you learn how to bring pressure from different spots on the field to consistently keep your opponent's guessing. Being able to attack all the different gaps in the Offensive Line is great, but maybe what's equally important is being able to disguise all your blitzes as well. For instance, corner blitzes provide surprise for the pocket passer but also help contain a mobile quarterback. Move blitzing defenders into particular gaps, such as between the center and tackle or between tackle and guard; the Offensive Linemen must decide who to block, the Defensive Line or the incoming blitzing defender.

We are now in a good position to help as we've taken control of the highlighted strong safety. This is a much better scenario for our defense because even if Green happens to shake the computer controlled cornerback we can still be in position to make an immediate tackle right behind him before this turns into an even bigger play. We continue to sprint over towards the ball carrier with the strong safety as our cornerback attempts to make the tackle. Our cornerback makes the impressive open field tackle. However, even if Green had escaped we would've been in perfect position to deliver as second hit on him right away.

Now we're going breakdown a way that you can use the clicking off method to help you defend the pass better. Houston Texans' quarterback Matt Schaub drops back to pass and looks to go downfield. Schaub finds what seems to be an open target on the right side of the field and tries to fire the ball in there.

The defender appears to be out of position at the moment, but shortly after the throw is made our goal is to click onto the defender and try to get him back into position before the ball arrives. We now take control of the cornerback and begin sprinting to try to gain ground on the receiver.

As the ball closes in we are still maintaining control of the cornerback until we get into position to make a play. Your goal when attempting to swat the pass away against most routes is to make sure that you move your cornerback slightly underneath of the receiver before clicking off.

Next, we've now clicked off the cornerback and we are leaving it up to the computer to make a play on the ball. The reason clicking off at this point in the play is good timing is because the cornerback's angle at which he is running will place him slightly underneath of the receiver just as the ball should arrive.

The receiver continues to fade as our now computer controlled cornerback leaps underneath to get into position for the ball. Now we could've kept control of the cornerback the whole time and done the exact same thing. However, why would anyone want to place more pressure on their stick skills to make a play manually when the computer will make it for them? As long as you learn how to place your players into the correct spots on the field to make plays, then clicking off will be the best option most of the time.

Our defender has the receiver completely blanketed now as he flies through the air in an attempt to swat away the pass. The computer-controlled cornerback successfully swats away the pass because we placed him in a great position on the field to make the play before clicking off.

Clicking off isn't always the answer on defense when making tackles or swatting away passes. However, there are certainly plenty of occasions throughout the course of a game where clicking off is the best solution. A good place to practice clicking off and bringing extra defenders over to help can be found in the Running Back Challenge mini-game.

In the Running Back Challenge you'll be able to work on sprinting over towards the ball with one defender, and then clicking off once you've placed him into position to make the tackle. Also, don't forget that once you click off that defender it will give you control of the second closest player. This will enable you to work on placing this defender in a good position as well to help out just in case the first defender gets beat.

Xbox 360 Achievements

Achievement Name How To Earn Reward
Very Special Teams Return 2 kicks for touchdowns in one game with one player (no OTP) 100
Butterfingers Force 3 fumbles in a game (no OTP) 50
Man Dozer Rush for 50 yards after the first hit in one game (no OTP) 25
He's Got all Day Stay in the pocket for 10 seconds (no OTP) 20
Did I Break It? Win a game by at least 59 points (max qtr. len. 7 min, no OTP) 40
Winning Isn't Everything Catch 21 passes in a game with one player (no OTP) 75
Old Spice Swagger Return Return a punt for a touchdown (no OTP) 45
Comeback Kids Win after being behind in the last 2 min of a game (no OTP, min qtr. len. 3 min) 40
No Offense Intercept 5 passes in a game (no OTP) 50
Fantasy Freak Rush for over 200 yards in a game with one player (no OTP) 25
The Elusive Man Break 5 tackles in a game with one player (no OTP) 25
Perfect Game Have a perfect passer rating in a game (no OTP) 50
Home Run Break an 80+ yard touchdown run (no OTP) 25
Old Spice Swagger Pick 6 Intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown (no OTP) 25
YACtastic Have over 100 YAC in one game (no OTP) 35
Pick Up 6 Win a Fight for the Fumble in the end zone for a TD (no OTP) 75
Deadly Accurate Have a 92% or higher completion percentage in a game (min 20 att., no OTP) 30
Laces Out Kick a 60+ yard Field Goal (no OTP) 40
Madden Moments Complete the "Super Bowl Sunday" Madden Moment 100
Defensive Dominance Hold your opponent to under 100 yards of offense (min qtr. len. 5 min, no OTP) 75
Sack Master Record 5 sacks in a game with one player (no OTP) 25
Verizon Master Strategist Create a custom Gameplan 5
Thanks For Coming Play the Pro Bowl (Franchise Mode) 10
Nano Tackle the QB before he can hand the ball off (no OTP) 10

PlayStation 3 Trophies

Trophy Name How To Earn Reward
Very Special Teams Return 2 kicks for touchdowns in one game with one player (no OTP) Gold
Butterfingers Force 3 fumbles in a game (no OTP) Silver
Man Dozer Rush for 50 yards after the first hit in one game (no OTP) Bronze
He's Got all Day Stay in the pocket for 10 seconds (no OTP) Bronze
Did I Break It? Win a game by at least 59 points (max qtr. len. 7 min, no OTP) Silver
Winning Isn't Everything Catch 21 passes in a game with one player (no OTP) Gold
Old Spice Swagger Return Return a punt for a touchdown (no OTP) Silver
Comeback Kids Win after being behind in the last 2 min of a game (no OTP, min qtr. len. 3 min) Bronze
No Offense Intercept 5 passes in a game (no OTP) Silver
Fantasy Freak Rush for over 200 yards in a game with one player (no OTP) Silver
The Elusive Man Break 5 tackles in a game with one player (no OTP) Bronze
Perfect Game Have a perfect passer rating in a game (no OTP) Gold
Home Run Break an 80+ yard touchdown run (no OTP) Silver
Old Spice Swagger Pick 6 Intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown (no OTP) Silver
YACtastic Have over 100 YAC in one game (no OTP) Silver
Pick Up 6 Win a Fight for the Fumble in the end zone for a TD (no OTP) Gold
Deadly Accurate Have a 92% or higher completion percentage in a game (min 20 att., no OTP) Silver
Laces Out Kick a 60+ yard Field Goal (no OTP) Gold
Madden Moments Complete the "Super Bowl Sunday" Madden Moment Gold
Defensive Dominance Hold your opponent to under 100 yards of offense (min qtr. len. 5 min, no OTP) Silver
Sack Master Record 5 sacks in a game with one player (no OTP) Bronze
Verizon Master Strategist Create a custom Gameplan Bronze
Thanks For Coming Play the Pro Bowl (Franchise Mode) Bronze
Nano Tackle the QB before he can hand the ball off (no OTP) Bronze
Madden NFL 11 Master Congratulations on earning every Madden NFL 11 trophy! Platinum

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