When it comes to finding a playbook that works for you, your options in Madden vary depending on the mode you’re playing. There is no way to create plays in the game, but for something like CFM you have more control over how you build your playbook. When it comes to normal online modes, you’re stuck using the stock playbooks that already exist in the game. What’s cool is that OS user Philosopher0 has built a Google Sheets document that will end up helping out all players in all modes who care about playbooks.
I’ve highlighted other helpful playbook tools in the past, and this one goes a step beyond most by giving you far more control over things in that you can really decipher what you want to run and then add it to your playbook. This is a helpful tool for any user because it teaches you about football, it helps you figure out concepts you like to run, and it’s also realistic if you want to go that route and become a true coordinator of sorts.
What you do is take the document and make a copy. From there, you can go through the tabs at the bottom of the sheet and figure out what scheme you want to run, what formations you want, how you want to structure the playbook, and what’s great is Philosopher0 has kept in so much extra information so you can know whether, for example, a play on defense works in match coverage or not. Again, whether you build a custom playbook or not, this might just help you figure out what stock playbook you like the most or it might help you realize certain concepts are being run out of more formations than you thought.
For the truly hardcore, the basis for this tool was for users in a 32-team CFM league. I’ll let Philosopher0 take it from here and explain how to use the tool in that capacity and include his breakdown of what each Sheet in the document does. Also, you can head to the forums to discuss this tool or join the Discord server that Philosopher0 runs. There may be a bug or two still in how this all works, so you can also (nicely) let Philosopher0 know about that if you run into them.
Madden 24 Custom Playbook Tool
This tool was originally designed for the USFL Sim League on Xbox Series X|S, to help users identify and declare their offensive and defensive schemes, plan out their custom playbooks, and streamline a lot of smaller spreadsheets into one master document.
Here’s how it works Sheet by Sheet.
Scheme 101 Sheet
This sheet goes through and breaks down how we in the USFL look at identifying and declaring our schemes by grouping all plays into various concept buckets. Some more niche concepts are grouped together with like concepts.
Every team will select 12 core concepts that are what they will be calling more than 3x a game. This is a soft cap. But we found the Scheme Declaration process made a perfect roadmap for how to build an ideal custom playbook for our Real Football Strategy “focused Sim League. So the Scheme 101 Sheet in tandem with the top of the Planner Sheet will be a great starting point to focus the”
Custom Playbook you will be building with this tool. At the bottom of this sheet is a link to the Madden Scheme Guide which goes into real schemes more in depth.
Now that we have a good overview of Schemes, we know everything we need to know to fill out the Scheme Declaration Form at the top of this sheet. Once that is complete, There are 50 formation slots where you select from the drop downs: Formation & Set. If you put together a combination that doesn’t exist a warning message will pop up that says: “No Formation Exists”. If the combination does exist in Madden, then the chalkboard area will pop up a visual representation of the formation, including what personnel lines up where.
To the right of that you can fill in your 4 Audibles and up to 12 additional formations. “But how do you know what plays are in a specific formation?” or “How do I know which formations exists?” Even when you are nowhere near your gaming console of choice you can plan out yours now with this tool. Using the OFF Play Log, DEF Play Log, OFF Formation Guide, and DEF Formation Guide, for the first time ever you can map out your whole playbook while riding in a subway, at your local cafe, or while enduring a dull family reunion.
Further down is the same set up for Defensive Plays & Formations If you keep scrolling down you will also get to a Gameplan Planner. This helps you pre-plan what plays you will be rating on the console later for various situations. You need 25 plays rated for every scenario, ideally reated between 3 and 5 stars. These plays listed here also get pulled into our playcall sheets later on.
Find a playbook that has the formation you love the most for your scheme, it could be Singleback Dice Slot, Pistol Strong, Gun Doubles Y Off Wk, Gun Spread Y-Slot, or literally any other formation in the
Use that playbook as the starting point for your custom playbook. Rate 1 Play Action play in that set half a star for all scenarios. Then delete all the other formations and all unneccessary plays. The game does require a Conserve Time and a Play Action play be left in the playbook.
If you are unsatisfied with the plays left, you can retry with another playbook that has the formation and perhaps have different results.
Sometimes, depending on the playbook you start with or the order you delete formations in, it may not let you remove all other formations, but get the playbook to where its usable for your purposes.
Next, add formations in the order you want them in. Pre-Planning with the Planner Sheet makes this part a breeze.
Things to consider when planning your formation order:
- You want to avoid formations with WR2 on the left, in between sets with WR1 on the left, as audibling between those formations will make both outside WRs swap sides.
- You want to arrange formations so when you audible between sets you can simulate realistic motions, shifts, and trades. EX: Gun Empty Base Flex -> Gun Trey Open Offset This example has the RB come from wide left to the backfield but nobody else moves.
- Your base formation left from emptying out a team playbook will be your first formation. Plan around that. Keep in mind that your last formation is as close as your third formation
- You can only audible between formations with the same personnel. However, if you sub into a different personnel you then can only audible into formations that natively have that personnel group.
Feel free to hide any unused rows on this sheet to make it more streamlined and easier for printers to handle.
OFF Formation Guide & DEF Formation Guide Sheets
This sheet showcases all of the formations in Madden 23 as well as where players line up inside the formations. Use this sheet to At-A-Glance see who lines up where in every formation. The Formations are grouped by personnel then sorted within that by where players line up.
If yellow text appears that means within that cell sub personnel is present. If you use any RS Sub Packages it will negate your Sub Personnel in the set. i.e. in most gun sets the HB is replaced with the 3DRB1 and the WR3 is replaced by the SLWR1.
Knowing who lines up where and when can help you be a more informed playcaller in game.
OFF Play Log & DEF Play Log Sheets
These sheets took the longest time to compile. Every play available in the custom playbook tool is included. They are also all labeled with the Concept Buckets we discussed in Scheme 101 and declared at the top of the Planner Tool. These sheets are fully filterable.
If you click on the little filter icon at the top of each column you can sort the plays by Formation, Set, Personnel, Play Name, and Concept. If we take our Scheme Declaration from the top of the Planner Tool and filter the plays by those Core 12 Concepts, we can identify which formations or personnel groups feature these concepts the most. We might find plays we wouldn’t have thought about in formations we never really tried before. The possibilities are near endless.
If a play had 2 identifiable concepts, such as Stick to the right and Slants to the left, then the play was inputted twice. For RPOs they were logged twice, once for the run concept and once for the type of RPO they are.
Included are a couple different types of Call Sheets Offensive Coordinators use when calling an offense. The Conceptual Playcall Sheet will pull from your Scheme Declaration to fill out the headings then underneath them you can select from all of the plays you added to the Planner, to easily customize and adjust your Playcall Sheet as you see fit.
The Field & Shell Playcall Sheet works more how Air Raid coaches construct theirs, with different scripts for open field based on 1 high, 2 high, or light box.
On both sheets the Special Situations plays will pull from the bottom of the Planner Tool where we set our Gameplan star rankings up.
More Playcall Sheets will be added in due time.
GM Guardrails Sheet
This is a compilation of the Browns Guardrails document used during the Browns tank and Rebuild process, football analytics, and best practices. All that mixed with how Madden tends to work and what ratings are harder to upgrade and thus more valuable, regardless scheme or anyone’s individual opinions.
GM Tool & Depth Chart Sheets
This is tacked on as a tool designed to help you identify weak parts of your roster and where needs the most attention. You can track players you want to trade for, sign in free agency, and a 100 player draft Big Board. If you fill out your current roster into the spots spelled out then the next sheet will show you a Visual Depth Chart, for those who benefit from seeing it all at a glance.
For this Depth Chart and the Roster you input we elected to use Interior Defensive Line, Edge Rusher, and Off Ball Linebacker instead of the terminology Madden uses which is antiquated (i.e. LE, DT, RE, LOLB, MLB, ROLB). On the Depth Chart itself it also gives descriptions. The IDL include a Defensive End who is the Anchor of the Defensive Line, the Nose Tackle who is the Run Stuffing A gap Defender, and the Rush Tackle who is more of a JJ Watt or Aaron Donald type player on the light end up to maybe a Chris Jones or Javon Hargreaves type player on the heavier end. At Edge, there is a Edge Rusher on the defense’s right (offense’s left) and a Edge Setter on the defense’s left. The Edge Rusher is more of your TJ Watt Type of Speed Rusher. Finesse Moves for sure. Opposite him is the Edge Setter who is more of a Power Rusher like the Bosa brothers or Chandler Jones. In some 4-3 systems this defender is a hybrid off ball LB / Edge Setter, like Bruce Irvin or Micah Parsons.
We put a lot of work into this sheet and hope you get the most out of it. If you enjoy it and would like to contribute, I do have a Patreon, where you are free to join for any dollar amount you wish. I also have a YouTube Channel you can check out. This sheet however is not behind a paywall and please feel free to share it with your league, your buddies, or your favorite online community, all I ask is that it be shared unaltered & with attribution.