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Five Coaching Decisions to Make You a Better Madden Player

Madden NFL 18

Five Coaching Decisions to Make You a Better Madden Player

The unfortunate truth for most of us is that, for the most part, we won’t be winning many games with our stick skills. Whether it be in online play or an offline mode, there are a handful of things you can do to get a similar advantage over your opponent. Here are five coaching decisions that you can make to become a better Madden player:

1. Exploit Their Weakness

Before every game of Madden that I play, I have a ritual. I sift through the depth chart of both teams and find their weakest point in relation to my team’s strengths. This isn’t quite as simple as it might sound, especially because Madden has always favored certain attributes over others.

The first thing that you need to look for is speed in relation to their edge rush, whether it be their linemen or outside linebackers. If you have a quick halfback who can hit the edge or a wide receiver who can take a reverse, pound those plays until they can stop them. If they have a weak interior that struggles to get off a block, hit them where it hurts. Just because a team hasn’t been great against the run in the past doesn’t mean that you can just run on them in a general sense. Take a little time to spot their weakness, and then exploit it.

2. Go For It

Nobody likes someone who goes for it every fourth down, but there’s a reason for that: it works way more often than it doesn’t. According to numerous studies over the last several years, going for it on fourth down is almost always the statistically correct play, especially when you’re in opponent territory. Don’t overthink this one, just pull out your best play call and get whatever yards you need.

3. Audible, Audible, Audible

One of the new fads in offensive coaching is to come to the line with two different plays in mind every time you break the huddle. This seems a little complicated, but if you’re like me and you meticulously pick your plays based on formations and personnel, you should be pretty easily be able to flip the script at the last second. So why does this make sense, exactly?

The offense should always have an advantage. While the defense can only adjust to what the offense breaks the huddle with, you as the coach can exploit anything you see right up until the ball is snapped. When you see the defense line up, take some time to decide whether or not your play looks like it will be open. Nothing hurts worse than a busted play, so do your best to make sure you call the right one.

4. Shift Your Defense

One thing you can do, and have to do, as a defensive play caller is pick up on your opponent’s play =0calling tendencies. For instance, if you’re playing someone who took my earlier advice (that you should exploit the defense’s weakness) you’re probably going to need to make some adjustments to foil those plans.

One of the best, and easiest, ways you can do just that is by shifting a lot before the snap. At the very least, it will confuse the heck out of your opponent. At its best, it will overload the side they’re running their play to, making for an easy stop or a possible turnover. This can be done pretty quickly and effectively, so you don’t have to worry about being in the midst of a significant change when the offense snaps the ball. Shifting is another way of covering up any potential weaknesses, too. For instance, if you have a right outside linebacker who struggles to contain the edge, you can shift your defense to the right side of the field, giving it more opportunities in the case that the player loses his one-on-one battle.

5. Avoid The Tilt

There is no reason that an early deficit should lead to a big shift in game plan. Football is a game with a good amount of variance, so an early turnover or big play on the part of the opposition isn’t cause for alarm. Whatever your plan going into the game is, it should see itself through at least a quarter or two. The last thing you want to do is make a large change that backfires before you even gave your original plan a chance.

Likewise, avoid taking any big risks that might put a comeback in jeopardy. Football is a game that goes in waves, so settle into the game before you do anything drastic.

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  1. I can vouch for #5.
    In my circle of friends I'm the best Madden player, and our games tend to follow the same story. It starts close before I pull away late. There are two reasons for this:
    1. Most guys do the same thing over and over, and if a play fails the first time its called they never call it again. So once I get their tendencies down I start getting easy stops and they are lost.
    2. My style of play is to methodically drive down the field 5-7 yards at a time. They get the ball back down and feel like they have to respond, so they force things and try to get the points back ASAP. An interception can quickly cause a snowball effect. Then later in the game once I have your tendencies down I start attacking your defense deep.
    Don't just call good plays, have a gameplan of how/where you want to attack the other team. Don't abandon that gameplan just because the other guy took more than 5 minutes off the clock on a TD scoring drive.
    I wholeheartedly disagree with number 2. That is the absolute worst advice, IMO. I annually make it into the top 800 each year, and regularly beat opponents in the top 20. The reason I don't climb higher in rank is more due to playing other games, and not having the time to invest in climbing the rank ladder. I'm successful year after year by doing the same three things. Run the ball, run the ball some more, and if they stop it, run the ball again. Most people give up on the run if you stop it a couple of times. However, by continuing to run the ball, most times I eventually break a big one, it sets up play action, and if nothing else I'm less likely to turn it over. 
    The second thing I do is try my best not to give up the big play on defense. I try and force my opponent to take as many plays as possible to drive down the field. I'm confident that at some point they'll make a mistake I can capitalize on. My biggest key is I kick FG's or punt when applicable. I rarely go for it on 4th down. No matter how tempting it may be, I take the 3 points or punt and rely on my second key. I win so many games by stopping people on 4th down, and getting great field position. I've settled for a FG when I was down multiple scores even though I was tempted, because I felt like I needed a TD to get back in the game. I can't tell you how many times I've ended up winning those same games by a FG or less. 
    I wholeheartedly disagree with number 2. That is the absolute worst advice, IMO. I annually make it into the top 800 each year, and regularly beat opponents in the top 20. The reason I don't climb higher in rank is more due to playing other games, and not having the time to invest in climbing the rank ladder. I'm successful year after year by doing the same three things. Run the ball, run the ball some more, and if they stop it, run the ball again. Most people give up on the run if you stop it a couple of times. However, by continuing to run the ball, most times I eventually break a big one, it sets up play action, and if nothing else I'm less likely to turn it over. 
    The second thing I do is try my best not to give up the big play on defense. I try and force my opponent to take as many plays as possible to drive down the field. I'm confident that at some point they'll make a mistake I can capitalize on. My biggest key is I kick FG's or punt when applicable. I rarely go for it on 4th down. No matter how tempting it may be, I take the 3 points or punt and rely on my second key. I win so many games by stopping people on 4th down, and getting great field position. I've settled for a FG when I was down multiple scores even though I was tempted, because I felt like I needed a TD to get back in the game. I can't tell you how many times I've ended up winning those same games by a FG or less. 
    dj illmatic
    I wholeheartedly disagree with number 2. That is the absolute worst advice, IMO. I annually make it into the top 800 each year, and regularly beat opponents in the top 20. The reason I don't climb higher in rank is more due to playing other games, and not having the time to invest in climbing the rank ladder. I'm successful year after year by doing the same three things. Run the ball, run the ball some more, and if they stop it, run the ball again. Most people give up on the run if you stop it a couple of times. However, by continuing to run the ball, most times I eventually break a big one, it sets up play action, and if nothing else I'm less likely to turn it over.*
    The second thing I do is try my best not to give up the big play on defense. I try and force my opponent to take as many plays as possible to drive down the field. I'm confident that at some point they'll make a mistake I can capitalize on. My biggest key is I kick FG's or punt when applicable. I rarely go for it on 4th down. No matter how tempting it may be, I take the 3 points or punt and rely on my second key. I win so many games by stopping people on 4th down, and getting great field position. I've settled for a FG when I was down multiple scores even though I was tempted, because I felt like I needed a TD to get back in the game. I can't tell you how many times I've ended up winning those same games by a FG or less.*

    I think they could have given more context for going for it.
    Its situational though. 4th and three from your opponents 40? Go for it.
    Same distance from your 40? Punt.
    Much of the decision making depends on the specifics of the game so that its hard to present general advice in this area.
    Having looked at the analytics pretty closely, teams basically should be going for it on 4th and 3 or less once they cross their own 45 yard line. Further, unless you are inside your own 15 yard line, mathematically speaking you should go for it on 4th and 1 every time.
    NFL head coaches are conservative to a fault; they don't want to make a mistake with an aggressive play call which fails, so they defer the result of the game to their opponent's offense. This approach actively hurts teams and costs them games. Look no further than this season's Week 3 game between the Patriots and Texans for a great example of this. The Texans passed up 4th and 1 in the red zone in the closing moments of the game in favor of a field goal, which turned possession over to the Patriots and allowed Tom Brady to march right down the field and score a game-winning touchdown. If the Texans convert the 4th down by gaining 1 yard, they run down the clock and win the game.
    I'm still punting or kicking the FG in most situations. I play conservative as hell, and it works for me. I win a lot of my games, and when I do lose it's almost always within one score. More to the point a lot of my wins come from capitalizing on those who have the "always go for it" mentality. 
    dj illmatic
    I wholeheartedly disagree with number 2. That is the absolute worst advice, IMO.......I rarely go for it on 4th down. No matter how tempting it may be, I take the 3 points or punt and rely on my second key. I win so many games by stopping people on 4th down, and getting great field position. I've settled for a FG when I was down multiple scores even though I was tempted, because I felt like I needed a TD to get back in the game. I can't tell you how many times I've ended up winning those same games by a FG or less.*

    Totally agree here. The games I win (many are forced rage quits) are always against people routinely go for it on 4th down (and fail). When I'm on defense, I would prefer they go for it as opposed to kick/punt. I almost always punt on 4th and ALWAYS take the 3 when I'm in range.
    The only times I go for it on 4th is when my opponent has shown he cannot user-stop a drag or inside zone run and it's 4th and under 5.
    I just laugh and smile when a dude goes for it on 4th and 10+ on his end of the field....because I know the rage quit is coming.
    i play offline coach mode. if im 4th and 2 on my own 40 i punt as thats what nfl coaches do, if im on their 40 it depends on the state of the game, wind and what has gone previously. wouldnt the monty hall solution be to not go for it if analytics said to go for it?
    Ueauvan
    i play offline coach mode. if im 4th and 2 on my own 40 i punt as thats what nfl coaches do, if im on their 40 it depends on the state of the game, wind and what has gone previously. wouldnt the monty hall solution be to not go for it if analytics said to go for it?

    It seems to me nfl coaches often coach not to lose their job. Going against what other coaches do despite what analytics say and it not working leads to a lot more criticism than making the safe decision.
    I assume this is more for when playing against humans. The AI tends to have its own ideas. I'm not saying the game is scripted... I will never buy into that theory. But wow... there are some things that happen where you know it's going to be "that" kind of game. Last last night when CJ Beathard finished the first half 11-11. Or when I did a FB dive on 4th and inches and the DT just threw my center across the field like an annoying pest. 

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