Coaches believe a good passing game opens up the run game. However, in order to have a successful pass game and a successful run game, you have to be able to block the defense. This is where the strengths of your offensive line come into play. Without a good offensive line, it will be very hard to consistently protect your quarterback, or develop a run game that will keep the defense honest. At the end of the day, your offensive line is the heart of your team that you need to count on when it matters. You can’t do anything without an offensive line. Not all quarterbacks can create on the run so the better the line, the better opportunities you are going to have play to play.
To begin, you need to have a baseline of what your offensive line currently has. Is your line stronger in the run game? Are they better in the passing game? Which side of the line is worse, left or right side? Knowing the areas you are weaker in is the best starting point towards maximizing your offensive line play. You can then evaluate your depth and determine if there are bench players who may be better in a specific area than your starters. Or, if you do find players who are excessively weak in one area, you can assess your salary budgets and look at free agents or trade options.
Strengths And Weaknesses
Let me take the example that you have chosen to keep the offensive line you inherited. There are many ways you can game plan to optimize performance from your offensive line. This optimization requires you to dive into the player ratings a bit and analyze. Some offensive lines will be stronger on one side than others. Some may be about even across the board. In the case of your line being stronger on one side than the other, you’ll need to focus your game plan for this strength. When choosing your run plays, you will need to direct them behind your stronger linemen. After a while, the defense may see the tendency of what you are doing and begin to make adjustments to stop the run to that side. If you’re strong on the right side does this mean you have to run to the right all the time? Not at all.
You can be creative in your ground game to get your strongest linemen over to the left side of the line. Take the play below. I’m set up in a formation in the center of the field. I have run the previous four run plays all to the right side of the line. However, on this play, I want to go left but I still want to run behind my stronger linemen. In order to accomplish this, you can begin pulling your guards or tackle from the right side of the line to the left. In the video below, you can see I take my right guard and pull him to the left to lead me down the left side for a positive gain.
This is just one of many ways you can be creative to run the ball in both directions and still utilize your better offensive linemen.
Upgrades to the pass rush in Madden 20 put even more pressure on the talents of your offensive line, especially against defensive lines with X-Factors such as Khalil Mack. There are multiple strategies you can use to counter an aggressive pass rush. You can utilize the running back and keep them back as an extra pass blocker. Or you can get the ball out quickly by dumping the ball off to the running back in hopes of getting four or five yards. The dump-off pass is better than taking a sack or a possible fumble by the quarterback. Eventually, you’re going to need some time in the pocket to throw the ball downfield. You have some options here as well. Play out of formations that allow you to keep the tight end in as a pass blocker. You will lose out on an extra receiver, but if you plan to throw deep then it won’t affect you as much. Shifting pass protection will optimize time in the pocket for your quarterback. For example, if Khalil Mack is lined up on the right side of your line, you can shift the protection to the right and possibly get him in a double team situation if he tries to spin inside.
The screen game in Madden 20 has been upgraded. Quarterbacks take shorter, faster drops and are able to get the ball out quickly. Mixing up screen passes is another fantastic way to utilize your offensive line. If your line does not possess as much power but can get downfield more quickly, you can take advantage of aggressive defensive lines. These work great against the blitz as well. The screen pass can be run out of numerous formations so you can keep the defense off balance by working it in at different times of the game. The standard screen pass taken advantage of in Madden 20 is the halfback screen. However, out of a trips formation or ace sets you can run wide receiver and also tight end screens that get the ball out quickly. On the HB screen, allow your line to get out in front before getting rid of the ball. This will help build a solid wall by the offensive line.
All in all, you will need to make big-time throws and big-time plays to win football games. However, by being detailed with the abilities of your offensive line you can make it easier for your skill players to take advantage of opportunities. Not all offensive lines will be strong and able to crush defenders off the line. Some will be quicker and faster and will require you to pull them across the line to blow up defenders. Understanding the defense you’re matched up against and their capabilities will help you game plan for success. Focusing on the details will maximize your offensive line and will help you pancake your way to the end zone. Games oftentimes come down to inches, and you have to be able to rely on your strongest men down in the trenches.