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.
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 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.
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.