"Madden NFL 10" Strategy Guide
This article is an excerpt from Prima Games' "Madden NFL 10" Strategy Guide. You can download the entire guide by becoming an ESPN Insider.
Learning how to consistently bring pressure on the quarterback is essential if you want to disrupt your opponent's passing attack. There are a few different blitz concepts in "Madden NFL 10" to bring the heat on the opposing offense's field general. We go to great lengths to cover these concepts and give you a few in-depth breakdowns of how to set them up.
Rushing the Passer
A successful defensive package depends upon its ability to rush the passer and its ability to cover receivers. Here we discuss blitzing the passer. Our goal on defense is to disrupt and destroy the intentions of the offensive player. The ultimate objective is to sack the quarterback. We do not advocate being cautious when going after the quarterback. We are not concerned with screens or draws. What we are concerned with is getting to the quarterback. We can funnel screens and draws back to the inside and prevent a big play. The quarterback is the primary focus. Sometimes the defense may not come away with a sack, but getting in the quarterback's face on a consistent basis can play a large role in the outcome of the game.
Know What You're Attacking
Players on offense always wonder how it is that many of the blitzes we send work. It is simple; it is all about recognizing what we are attacking. Here we are referring to the offensive line's blocking scheme. There are ways to block the inside blitz in "Madden" with techniques such as slide protection, but most players on offense don't take the time to use them. Blitzing against the default protection schemes is successful when one offensive lineman has to account for more than one defender. Zone blitzes are very effective against this type of blocking scheme because they allow the defense to put a defender in the face of the designated hot receiver. Also, with defensive linemen dropping into coverage and linebackers and secondary personnel pass rushing, the offensive linemen get confused about their assignments. Picture it this way: You are an offensive lineman, and you are assigned to block the man directly in front of you. Another defender lines up in that area. You still block the man in front of you. But on the snap, that man steps forward as if he is going to pass rush. The other defender blows by you, and then the guy you were supposed to block drops out into coverage. This is the type of blocking havoc we are trying to create.
Hey, we all are not the greatest in the world on the sticks, but we all must practice our skills because sometimes a game comes down to who's better on the sticks. But sometimes the best person on the stick doesn't always win. Sometimes being great on the stick in certain situations propels the person who is not as great overall on the sticks to the win. The point here is to practice as often as you can. Also, be sure you work on shedding blocks with the linebackers and defensive linemen. Check your players' shed-block ratings and the type of move that each player is best at (power or finesse) to determine which moves to use in dealing with blocks. Shedding blocks is a lot better this year. When playing linebacker we like to wait to see which blocker is coming after us. Before he goes into his animation we execute a power or finesse move. If your backer has a high shed-block rating, he will be off that block in no time.
You can give your outside linebackers a containment blitz assignment by using the QB Contain individual defensive hot route. Once you do this, their blitz route turns gray and is barely visible on the field.
Killer inside blitzes are the most sought-after concept in the "Madden" community. The most effective blitz schemes are known as nanos or enhanced blitzes. They get this name because they generally are the quickest way to bring A or B gap pressure. If you don't know what A and B gaps are, let us explain: The A gap is between the center and guards on both sides of the ball. The B gap is between guards and tackles on both sides of the ball. By creating A and B gap pressure, you can really throw off the quarterback's ability to step up in the pocket. Usually, you must manually move one or more defenders around if you want to get this kind of inside pressure.
Some players consider this cheating because they see it as taking advantage of the AI. We disagree. Most of our blitz principles are based on sound football strategy. Plus, slide protection and hot route blocks give players ways to counter the pressure.
Inside blitz schemes can be set up with either man or zone coverage behind them. A good portion of the inside blitz man schemes utilize either Cover 0 or Cover 1. Most of the inside blitz-zone blitz schemes have some type of Cover 3 behind them, although you will find a few Cover 2 ones. Here is an example of an inside blitz out of the 46 Normal that we can create on the fly.
46 Normal -- Weak Blitz
The 46 Normal -- Weak Blitz creates an overload on the left side of the offensive line by sending the right and middle linebackers on a blitz. There are four defenders in man coverage, while the free safety plays the deep middle (Cover 1). We are going to create an A gap blitz on the fly that allows the middle linebacker to get instant pressure on the quarterback.
Even if you don't have a fast middle linebacker, you can still get some heat with this defense. Keep in mind that the pass coverage is somewhat weak. Here is how to set up an enhanced version of the 46 Normal -- Weak Blitz.
First, shift the linebackers to the right. Next, take control of the middle linebacker and move him between the center and right guard. He may already be in that area because of the shift, but defenders tend to move on their own if they are not controlled. By manually moving him, he won't move on his own even after you switch to another defender. Next switch to the weakside defensive tackle and reblitz him. His blitz angle now goes straight toward the center. If you have time, call bump-and-run coverage and manually move the free safety down to the weak side near the line of scrimmage.
Once the ball is snapped, the center blocks the weakside defensive tackle, while the right guard blocks the strongside defensive tackle. This creates a gap for the middle linebacker to shoot through.
Another often-used blitz scheme is to overload one side of the offensive line with multiple pass rushers. By sending more defenders than the offensive line can block, it overwhelms the line, and they can't handle all the pass rushers from the overloaded side. On the other side there are multiple defenders either playing man coverage or dropping into zone coverage. In "Madden NFL 10," a good number of the overload blitz schemes have zone coverage behind them, but there are a few man overload blitz schemes as well.