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Basic Defensive Strategies In Madden NFL 20

Madden NFL 20

Basic Defensive Strategies In Madden NFL 20

Defense in the NFL can be a complicated issue, and the same goes for Madden 20. There are a variety of defensive sets within each formation, and there is no worse feeling than being unable to stop the offense. If you can’t somewhat predict what the offense will be calling, the more likely you’ll find yourself giving up a lot of yardage. Whether this is against the AI or in online games, football strategy is the same. If you game plan correctly and stick to a set of defensive rules, you will find yourself in third downs and have the opportunity to get your defense off the field. So let’s take a look at some defensive strategies you can use to hold your own on the gridiron.

Game Plan

Just as an offense will game plan against a defense, the same goes for the defense game-planning against the offense. If the offense has speed at the wide receiver position, then your defense may need help over the top. If they are strong at running back, then you need to provide run support with the linebackers or put a fifth defensive lineman in the trenches. Deciding ahead of time what you’re willing to give up will help your shrink the field to your advantage.

If you say you’re not going to get beat deep, then stick to it. Play a lot of cover 3 and cover 4, and manage the short throws. Utilize the variety of sets within each formation to stack your hand against the offense. In a basic 4-3 defense, you can alter formation sets and line up in a 4-3 under, over, over-plus, etc. These tweaks can help with disguising a cover 3, blitz or cover 2.

Know The X-Factors

In Madden 20, X-Factors have exceptional abilities. If an X-Factor gets activated, then you need to hammer down on it in a hurry. In fact, the best bet is to prevent it from being activated in the first place. Know the strengths of each offense you play against and focus on that. Try your best to contain the best player and force the other skill players to beat you. Load the box against players like Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley.

When faced with elite receivers, make sure you are in the best defense against that player. For example, every defender matched up against Julio Jones will be at a disadvantage due to the simple fact that Jones is an absolute beast. You’re going to need multiple players to defend him. You have some options on how to do this. You can start by playing zone coverage to hopefully have a couple of defenders in his area and pass off coverage from one man to the other. Or you can be a bit more advanced with it. Pick a zone coverage that includes help over the top. From there, select your cornerback and change his coverage to man to man, or even double it up again and play both your corner and safety in man on Jones. Now, you will be giving up something else in another area of the field, but by using some creativity, it will force the non-X-Factor players to beat you, which is a reasonable trade-off.

Pressure

Pressure on the quarterback has an effect on throwing accuracy, but the quarterback’s ratings will dictate how much impact there is here. Therefore, the key to having a great defense includes a pass rush that forces the quarterback to get rid of the ball, scramble or get sacked. Evaluate the abilities of your defensive ends. Are they power players or are they speed guys? If they possess speed rather than power, then get them wide and rush off the edge to come around for a sack. You will leave yourself open to a quarterback scramble, draws or screens, but again, it’s pressure.

Another strategy is effectively using blitzes. In second-and-short situations, it’s not uncommon for the offense to go to the play-action pass. Edge blitzing and overloading one side will help you get to the quarterback before they can get the ball out. Even in situations like third and eight, you can bring seven defenders to apply pressure. Lastly, you can sneak in a more unique blitz here and there. Try blitzing the safety or corner from the short side of the field at times because the first place the opposing offense will look to throw to is the wide side of the field. This potentially leaves them blind to a sneaky blitz off the short side.

Force The Offense’s Hand

Position the defense in ways to force the offense the direction you want them to go. Accomplish this by shifting the defensive line to the strong side against every offensive formation. Or you can shift them to the wide side of the field every time. Although you are giving up a slight advantage to a weak-side run, you are also shrinking the running lanes for the offense.

Secondly, you can also try to bait the offense into throwing the ball into the areas you want. Press the receivers and force the QB to throw over the top. Back the cornerbacks off and force the underneath throw. Or, use a blitz to give the quarterback the impression you are leaving a specific area open for positive yardage when in fact you are simply baiting the quarterback to throw into a dangerous spot. You can do this last thing by disguising the coverage. For example, you can blitz the corners or safeties, but drop the defensive ends into the flats. This can force the quarterback to throw a slant or quick out that gives players like Khalil Mack a chance to make a play.

Wrapping Up

Offense wins games but defense wins championships. Not as many people believe in this concept as it relates to the NFL in 2019, but either way, it is much easier to win football games if you can prevent the offense from scoring points. Every defense will give up points in every game, especially in the NFL where talent is all over the field. Having a solid defensive game plan and knowing which offensive players can beat you the most is the first step in holding the line. Once you’re able to contain the X-Factors, you can start loading up and teeing off on the quarterback with pressures, hurries and sacks.

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  1. The basic premise of the article is well-meaning. X Factors need to be accounted for. However, as described above and diagrammed in the blog, I wouldn't suggest both man assigning a CB and Safety with Cover 2 called. Any receiver running down that deep half of the field, such as the slot receiver in the blog picture, will be wide open.
    PhillyPhanatic14
    Just like Cover 3 was awesome in Madden 19, Cover 6 is massive in Madden 20.

    I love COver 6. That and Cover 1 Robber with shade inside and overtop.
    One thing I like doing with Cover 3 Cloud is first, make sure your Curl/Flat zone is on the weak side, the single WR side in odd sets such as Bunch. Man the weakside CB with the deep 1/3 CB.
    What happens is, the Curl/Flat will come down on any drag coming across the field. It will also come down on a HB or TE in the Flat. If you user a player, I would suggest usering the hard flat CB.
    The reason to user the hard flat CB is because if no one comes into teh zone, he will just sit there. If you user, you can pull him out and cover another area.
    kennylc321
    Did I miss something here? Has the zone defense been fixed?

    People just giving overall general advice.
    We all know it hasn't been "tweaked."
    One thing I’ve learned this year in terms of coverage defense is Committing to the pass in passing situations, shading multiple areas (outside / underneath I.e.) , and playing the sticks are extremely important.
    There’s a thread on coverage issues ... but those options help A LOT.
    RPO situations too ... If you commit to the pass you don’t run the risk of the DB initially playing the Run.
    Idk if any of this is intentional by madden but it does bring a sense of “The chess match” ... pass committing forces the Defenders to play pass. Yes you’re vulnerable to the run if you guess wrong. But User Defense does help get to Run gaps to soften the blow.
    I’ve been mostly running Man Coverage , because I use Denver and I’ve been enjoying it. But when I do play zone I’ve learned playing the sticks in zone keeps AI defenders locked to play art so there isn’t very many instances of complete broken coverage
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    4thQtrStre5S
    I love COver 6. That and Cover 1 Robber with shade inside and overtop.
    Shouldn't cover 1 robber be shaded outside and overtop, since you already help inside with robber defender? Or am I misunderstanding the concept? Thanks.
    Executor
    Shouldn't cover 1 robber be shaded outside and overtop, since you already help inside with robber defender? Or am I misunderstanding the concept? Thanks.

    Both definitely have their merits but i shade outside when running cover 1 and user the robber but if i am bringing pressure ill shade inside to force the opponent to throw outside the numbers or hold the ball too long.
    Another wrinkle I really like is to run a cover 3 zone blitz with my nickel corner and a lb blitzing but then hot route the nickel to man the opponents biggest strong side threat
    Executor
    Shouldn't cover 1 robber be shaded outside and overtop, since you already help inside with robber defender? Or am I misunderstanding the concept? Thanks.

    I shade inside so the DB will hold up the receiver on drags and slants. Anything that slows the timing down on passes and gives the pass rush an extra step towards the QB is where I focus my defense.
    Generally, yes you would shade outside and force the receiver inside where the help is located.
    Executor
    Shouldn't cover 1 robber be shaded outside and overtop, since you already help inside with robber defender? Or am I misunderstanding the concept? Thanks.

    Both definitely have their merits but i shade outside when running cover 1 and user the robber but if i am bringing pressure ill shade inside to force the opponent to throw outside the numbers or hold the ball too long.
    Another wrinkle I really like is to run a cover 3 zone blitz with my nickel corner and a lb blitzing but then hot route the nickel to man the opponents biggest strong side threat
    Executor
    Shouldn't cover 1 robber be shaded outside and overtop, since you already help inside with robber defender? Or am I misunderstanding the concept? Thanks.

    Most teams running cover 1 robber or hole have their corners shading outside and over-the-top, since as you pointed out, there is a zone defender in the middle to give help. However, in Madden, shading over-the-top is exaggerated. Having said that, I will press and shade over-the-top when I zero blitz.
    I almost always shade inside and underneath when I have help with 2 deep safeties. When I have a rat defender zoning inside, I shade outside and underneath. That way, with only 1 deep safety, I won't get toasted on an outside release go route. Gotta do what works for you.
    C1 isn't necessarily a blanket outside shade. WRs near the boundary you'll often see inside leverage to use the sideline and lack of space there against them.
    AndreSwagassi86
    I’ve been mostly running Man Coverage , because I use Denver and I’ve been enjoying it. But when I do play zone I’ve learned playing the sticks in zone keeps AI defenders locked to play art so there isn’t very many instances of complete broken coverage

    Just to add some explainer for the mechanic in play here:
    Making a "sticks" call in Madden will make underneath defenders abandon their pattern-match rules (which are present in most of the in-game zone coverages now). Instead of match, defenders will instead play spot drop zones as indicated in the play art, getting depth to the first down line to gain.
    CM Hooe
    Just to add some explainer for the mechanic in play here:
    Making a "sticks" call in Madden will make underneath defenders abandon their pattern-match rules (which are present in most of the in-game zone coverages now). Instead of match, defenders will instead play spot drop zones as indicated in the play art, getting depth to the first down line to gain.
    What is actually a pattern-match?
    Executor
    What is actually a pattern-match?

    Certain zones in C3 (especially in any play called "C3 match") and C4 (Palms and Quarters) have zones that auto-convert to man based on the behavior of the receivers.
    As one example, in C4 Palms, if the #2 receiver (counting from the outside in) runs a short out-breaking route, like a quick out or flat, the CB on that side will drop their deep zone and man up that #2 receiver....in effect, the C4 converts to a C2 on that side.
    What you're seeing as "broken coverage" (a defender not playing the zone their play art says they should) is actually that defender pattern-matching.
    Edit: I'm not claiming there's no broken pass coverage in M20. Just saying that a defender not playing their zone in a pattern-match coverage isn't an example of it.
    These shading scenarios are interesting and I generally don't use them as I don't know what they really do. Can anyone provide a quick breakdown of what each coverage adjustment hopes to accomplish, pros and cons, and good rules of thumb as to when to apply? I honestly would like to start using them but am not to comfortable with the principles
    Therebelyell626
    These shading scenarios are interesting and I generally don't use them as I don't know what they really do. Can anyone provide a quick breakdown of what each coverage adjustment hopes to accomplish, pros and cons, and good rules of thumb as to when to apply? I honestly would like to start using them but am not to comfortable with the principles

    In cover 1/2 man shading inside and underneath the defender will attempt to stay inside the WR body and follow him underneath because there is safety help over the top.
    Cover 2 Zone your CBS play a hard flats (blue zone) when shading underneath ... the CB will play the receiver underneath until he exits the zone leaving the safeties to cover over the top routes.... your hooks and mid zones(yellow) still play middle of the field but look to play shorter routes
    Cover 3/4/6 I play outside and overtop. Since there’s 3/4/6 deep zones you want them to keep the coverage overtop , but also your hooks, mids and Curl(purple) play a little higher up the field ... you end up giving up some underneath routes , but in 3rd and distance situations you’re not giving up the first.
    Now that’s just a small portion because you can mix shading with any coverage. Or single shade.
    Now I will say this, these are a basis of the real life shading principles and we are playing a video game so it won’t be flawless , there are coverage beating routes ... but they do at least bring about some form of sense of awareness to the games corners
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    AndreSwagassi86
    In cover 1/2 man shading inside and underneath the defender will attempt to stay inside the WR body and follow him underneath because there is safety help over the top.
    Cover 2 Zone your CBS play a hard flats (blue zone) when shading underneath ... the CB will play the receiver underneath until he exits the zone leaving the safeties to cover over the top routes.... your hooks and mid zones(yellow) still play middle of the field but look to play shorter routes
    Cover 3/4/6 I play outside and overtop. Since there’s 3/4/6 deep zones you want them to keep the coverage overtop , but also your hooks, mids and Curl(purple) play a little higher up the field ... you end up giving up some underneath routes , but in 3rd and distance situations you’re not giving up the first.
    Now that’s just a small portion because you can mix shading with any coverage. Or single shade.
    Now I will say this, these are a basis of the real life shading principles and we are playing a video game so it won’t be flawless , there are coverage beating routes ... but they do at least bring about some form of sense of awareness to the games corners
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    Wow that's really helpful man thanks. So what your saying is we can combine 2 shading teqniques on one play? I.e. Outside/over the top?
    Therebelyell626
    Wow that's really helpful man thanks. So what your saying is we can combine 2 shading teqniques on one play? I.e. Outside/over the top?

    You can! And you're looking to use them to prioritise what you want to take away from the receivers.
    I.e. In coverages that have strong safety help, you can shade inside and underneath to take away those routes and force the receiver the go up the field towards your safeties.
    In cover 1 or cover 0 you'd usually shade over the top and maybe also outside because your CBs have no safeties behind them to provide help in the deep areas of the field.
    Shading overtop/underneath will also cancel pattern matches and can wreck the integrity of your defense. Quarter flats and 3-rec hooks can both potentially have deep responsibility on any given play.
    stinkubus
    Shading overtop/underneath will also cancel pattern matches and can wreck the integrity of your defense. Quarter flats and 3-rec hooks can both potentially have deep responsibility on any given play.

    I haven’t had shading disrupt any pattern matching , playing the sticks is when I see pattern matching disrupted
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    AndreSwagassi86
    I haven’t had shading disrupt any pattern matching , playing the sticks is when I see pattern matching disrupted
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    I can verify this does occur when playing Cover 3 Match. You can check this for yourself as well quite easily. Simply pull up your play art after you "over-the-top" shade.
    Therebelyell626
    Wow that's really helpful man thanks. So what your saying is we can combine 2 shading teqniques on one play? I.e. Outside/over the top?

    You sure can , what I’m learning about this madden is that shading and combining 2 shades is necessary because you’re dictating the coverage instead of leaving it default and letting the AI decide.
    Also Pass Commit helps coverage a lot during Playaction, and RPO (the blitzers will always go for the QB when you pass commit , and the DBs focus on the routes not the potential run)
    Also if you press and play overtop the DB will not attempt to bump/chuck , he’ll just start shooting out to the route
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    edgevoice
    I can verify this does occur when playing Cover 3 Match. You can check this for yourself as well quite easily. Simply pull up your play art after you "over-the-top" shade.

    It also cancels matches in palms, quarters, and all the split field coverages because quarter flats can have deep responsibilities, especially against trips.
    If you shade down to get hard flats or up to get curl flats the players who were previously in quarter flats will no longer honor their deep responsibilities.
    No matter which you choose just about any Verticals concept from trips will flood the seam and you won't be able to stop it without usering two routes. Worse yet the good verticals plays this year have the HB on an actual choice route so you are probably giving that up even if you manage to cover the verts.
    Quarter flats can also do a lot of good things for you against slot wheel routes, drags, shallow and sometimes even deep crossers. All of that is lost by shading up or down.
    If you want cover 3 with hard flats either use the stock play call one of the spot drop plays and hot route, imo. Shading match plays in this fashion will only lead to busted coverages unless you protect the sticks. If you are going to protect the sticks why call match plays?
    edgevoice
    I can verify this does occur when playing Cover 3 Match. You can check this for yourself as well quite easily. Simply pull up your play art after you "over-the-top" shade.

    That’s just changing the shade , pattern matching still happens if the routes ran call for it. , your curl flats turn into hardflats or soft squats but pattern matching still happens. When I play the sticks , then pattern matching isn’t present.
    It’s a guessing game/chess match ... shading isn’t necessary every down .. but if you feel the need to , or the want to just to prevent certain routes from breaking free go for it
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    AndreSwagassi86
    That’s just changing the shade , pattern matching still happens if the routes ran call for it. , your curl flats turn into hardflats or soft squats but pattern matching still happens. When I play the sticks , then pattern matching isn’t present. -------------------
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    That just hasn't been my experience. For instance, in Cover 3 Match, shading over-the-top turns my seam flats into curl flats. If attacked vertically, those defenders no longer play their match responsibilities.
    Cover 6 with hot routes to make it a man/zone hybrid. Always have someone blitzing as well. User defender baits the QB into throwing the ball
    I never shade.. all I do is press every look depending on the types of CBs I have and let ratings take over. What I will say tho is this... I think the AI in this Madden shade automatically based on coverage... I run a lot of Cover 2 Man and Cover 0 and wen I bring up the playart on field... guys are already shaded automatically depending... Ive seen this
    What does everyone do in regards to the coaching adjustments on defense? Like do you guys play the ball more or swat?
    Lineup by best overall or route running etc..?
    And for alignments do you guys stay default or base or man? I tried base but every play my guys are out of position and by the time i base align the cpu hikes the ball
    Jagsfan24
    What does everyone do in regards to the coaching adjustments on defense? Like do you guys play the ball more or swat?
    Lineup by best overall or route running etc..?
    And for alignments do you guys stay default or base or man? I tried base but every play my guys are out of position and by the time i base align the cpu hikes the ball

    I used to always base align but I feel like they auto base this year. I just press and move d line to strong side... I’m still getting use to the new controls pre snap.. once I do I’ll prolly get more fancy with it
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    edgevoice
    That just hasn't been my experience. For instance, in Cover 3 Match, shading over-the-top turns my seam flats into curl flats. If attacked vertically, those defenders no longer play their match responsibilities.

    Seam flat and curl flat are not pattern matching, that is only the priority in the zone, e.g. whether they will prioritize covering a curl route or flat route.
    Pattern matching in the strictest sense is abandoning the zone assignment altogether if conditions are met, e.g. if #2 WR has a vertical stem play man defense on him.
    I truly don't know whether or not shading breaks match responsibilities, you may very well be correct. I just want to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.
    ggsimmonds
    Seam flat and curl flat are not pattern matching, that is only the priority in the zone, e.g. whether they will prioritize covering a curl route or flat route.
    Pattern matching in the strictest sense is abandoning the zone assignment altogether if conditions are met, e.g. if #2 WR has a vertical stem play man defense on him.
    I truly don't know whether or not shading breaks match responsibilities, you may very well be correct. I just want to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.

    When I call Cover 3 Match, my seam flat defender will carry a vertical route. I was simply trying to point that shading over-the-top when in this match coverage will leave you vulnerable in this particular instance, since the seam flat assignment will change to a curl flat.
    Jagsfan24
    What does everyone do in regards to the coaching adjustments on defense? Like do you guys play the ball more or swat?
    Lineup by best overall or route running etc..?
    And for alignments do you guys stay default or base or man? I tried base but every play my guys are out of position and by the time i base align the cpu hikes the ball

    Base aligning isn't good at all anymore, imo. You've already figured out why.
    You can do some things with man align but you have to be very careful with your play calling vs. their formation because not all of those match ups are going to lend themselves well to it. In many cases the default and the man alignment are identical, anyway.
    Default alignment combined with a formation with preset movements which you like is the best way to go, imo. Lets you get guys where you want them without the chore of trying to move them manually.
    So far I'm one of the top defenses in my CFM playing with Man Align. I also use Texans who have a great defense but man align is working well. I wouldn't advise it for all teams but I think if you run a lot of man coverage as I'm doing currently, it helps disguise your coverage. If you are almost exclusively zone I'd probably stick with default.

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