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The Four "Must Have's" of Madden Offense

Discussion in 'Gaming Forum' started by DOLFANMIKE, Feb 3, 2009.



    Mar 22, 2008

    Here is a X and O article I made for my PC Madden 2k8 league a few weeks ago. I also included some of my favorite signatures from the Phins.com as an extra bonus. I hope you guys that I borrowed from don't mind. I think your sigs are the bomb.


    It's time again to focus on X's and O's and the focus of this article is on building a consistent offense that you can count on to move the chains and score points regardless of who you play week to week. I think there are 4 features an offense must have in order to accomplish the huge task of controlling the ball and will break them down for you individually.
    #1 MUST HAVE:
    A consistent Offense Must have the ability to block pressure. This is a subject that already has entire articles written up about it in our features titled "How to Beat the Blitz using Motion" and "How to Attack Defense's that Align Offset" in our league article forums. One quote that I have always stood by in both online and real on the field Football is that "the worse you are at blocking pressure, the more of it you are going to see". I think it's a no brainer that even the inexperienced coach gets the point that if he brings pressure and you fail to pick it up, he can create turnovers or plays for losses, both of which are Cardinal Sins for successful Offense.

    So how does one build the basics for blocking pressure? Having plays that complement each other, (both run and pass) from the same formations using the same Motion or non motion look is a great start to give the offense a difficult scheme to defend. If a coach only uses certain formations for a certain play, it is easy to figure out that coaches intentions and audible a defense into a well rehearsed position to stuff the ball or sack the QB. Now that the age of Broadcasting games is here and soon to become a part of every game featured in the CCFL, scouting opponents will take on a whole new meaning. Coaches that try to run only a few plays will likely find themselves struggling as opponents figure out ways to box them in by formation in upcoming games.

    Madden 2k8 has some amazing ai blocking logic that is clearly enhanced by using OL slides, Motion, and different paced snap counts. I'll start by mentioning the later, as tempo in the CCFL is determined by the Offense. Defenses that want to eye ball your Offense and then make an audible based on what they see can be caught off balance and out of position by a varying snap count, especially a quick count (hiking the ball immediately when at the line of scrimmage).
    I make a point to vary my snap count all game long in an effort to keep defense's guessing on what I may do. Having a different tempo can be effective especially when you hustle your Offense to the line of scrimmage and do an inside or "tight" OL slide then run the ball inside on the quick snap. It's a great way to quickly bang the defense inside and can potentially open up a huge hole if you catch the defense in mid movement especially if they are sliding out or away from the call.

    The same is true of the effectiveness of running a Stretch or Toss play right or left and sliding the OL that way as you rush the OL up to the ball. If the Defense isn't ready or guesses wrong, it can be a costly mistake and give you a big play. Again, in the CCFL the Offense dictates the tempo of the game. There is no waiting for the defensive coach to look at your Offense, then audible and slide and have everything the way he thinks is perfect unless you allow the coach to do so. Not using tempo in your games is denying yourself a valuable tool that also takes away some big play ability from your Offensive "punch"...

    I also mentioned using OL slides (Which just became legal 3 seasons ago when we made the switch to 2k8) as a valuable way to block pressure. An OL slide is when you assign the OL blocking based on the play you are running sometime between when you break the huddle and snap the ball. This type of audible is a fantastic way to pick up pressure and reflects the way the OL makes "OL calls" in real games to determine the best way to block a play. Between our leagues usage of OL slides and motion, there is no reason to give up much in terms of tackles for losses or sacks in your games.

    On my typical play call, I will use both an OL slide call (In, Out, Right, or Left) and use a TE, or RB motion. Sometimes I slide to the play, sometimes I slide away to create a crease (running lane). Sometimes I motion to the play, sometimes I motion away (to create a blocking overload or trap, or to mislead a defense into thinking I'm going somewhere I am not). This concept of OL slide and motion usage requires some practice time in discovering which combo's work best against which defensive fronts and blitz packages.

    I think that just like not being predictable in using only certain plays from certain formations, it's also important not to use only certain types of motion out of certain plays. Find ways to mix it up, and find formations thats give you a nice run, nice Play Action pass, nice deep pass or quick hitting pass using the same motion and formation. Now you've created problem for any defense that requires them to make a guess based on the down and distance. By using this scheme (ideology) you make it much easier to pick up pressure and give yourself the ability to determine where you need to slide and/or motion in order to pick up the overload or blitz. I suppose the optimal situation for an offense would be to have a formation in which you have an great set of the following plays where you can slide and use motion:
    - an inside run
    - an outside run
    - a play action pass
    - a deep pass with RB's in blocking in MAX protection
    - a short quick hitting pass such as a hitch or slant or screen

    As I'm sure you can imagine, if you have such a combo it would be very difficult to defend someone that shows the same type motion on varying cadences which all look the same or at least similar.
    Here is a 5 play combo example of this concept:

    Play 1
    At the huddle breaks, you hustle the Offense to the Line of Scrimmage and select OL Tight (inside) Slide. You chose a formation with 2 RB's in it where on one play you line up in that formation and motion your FB to the left and snap the ball when the FB is between the Left OG and Left OT and run a blast there using the FB motion to provide an extra blocker. The play now turns a simple dive play into a lead blocking Blast or Iso type of play.

    Play 2
    At the huddle breaks, you hustle the Offense to the Line of Scrimmage and select OL Right Slide.
    On the next play from the same formation, you again motion the FB and this time snap the ball a second later when the FB is behind the Left OT and run a pass play using the FB as an additional blocker on the Left side. The two plays looked very similar but are completly different in nature. The motion gave you an extra edge blocker on the Left side, allowing you to slide your OL to the Right creating a fan effect to pick up the defense. The pass might be a Play action, deep pass, or a quick hitter.

    Play 3
    At the huddle breaks, you hustle the Offense to the Line of Scrimmage and select OL Left Slide.
    On play 3 you once again motion that same FB to the left, and again snap the ball when the FB is behind the Left OT and now run a Toss Left or Stretch Left run play to your HB. This creates a zone blocking effect along with the extra FB lead block and gives you a great chance of winning on the edge and creating a big play. Remember, in Madden ai, the OL may even create a huge cutback lane for the RB and what was intended to be a big run on the edge may turn into the same on a cutback. Madden ai blocking and running gets this football concept. Teams with smart OL and especially smart RB's will have tremendous results using this concept.

    Play 4
    At the huddle breaks, you hustle the Offense to the Line of Scrimmage and select OL Right (inside) Slide.
    On play 4, rather than motioning anyone, you snap the ball immediately when the OL gets down and give the FB (who had been motioning) a quick hitting dive play that will likely have a minimum of 4-5 yard success if you catch the Defense moving or generally trying to make a read based on your normal motion tendencies. On occasion, you will break a long run on this simple play. The effectiveness of this "jab" will make teams reluctant to spread thin inside and thus you can have a bigger field of play on the edge and outside for your playmakers.

    Play 5
    At the huddle breaks, you hustle the Offense to the Line of Scrimmage and select OL Wide (outside) Slide because you see the defense has done the same.
    Once on the ball, you motion your FB again and snap it when the FB is outside the Left OT (to to run his route). The play in this case is a pass play with the FB running a route into the Left flats and his motion blended into the rest of the familiar looking package but in reality allowed the FB to get closer to the flats for a quicker route with a head start on any LB's that may be covering him in the flats. In the Defense is in zone, his motion may cause a CB in Cover 2 to jump on him right away, allowing the WR on the outisde to have a large gap between the Safety and the CB for a larger gain.

    One aspect of this philosophy that should be discussed is that the Offense in this case is being both agressive and responsive to what the defense is doing. A coach can impose his particular personel style or empahsis to his liking based on how he likes to Coordinate his offense. Also, this scheme works with varied talent base can be just as effective in the Shotgun as it is in the I formation. Just as I documented this one formation and FB motion, I have other packages using TE motion the same way.

    Using OL Slides and Motion can create this same type of package both strong and weakside and gives coaches some great multiple options for how to consistently block pressure in Madden 2k8.

    #2 MUST HAVE:
    A consistent Offense must have the ability to move the ball around and not rely on simply one or two players to move the ball and put up points. I do think it is possible to win a majority of your games only using a player or two such as a Top RB and a key WR, but when it comes to winning games playoff time you had better have a variety of ways to score and move the chains. Having a great defense, one which is dangerous and can score is always a huge plus, but every offense needs to have a scheme that moves the ball around in order to beat the best teams and coaches.

    If you track some of the teams that have fallen into this category over the past CCFL seasons, there are some teams that always have a leader in rushing and recieving (Top 10 stats wise) but little else stats wise. These are teams that tend to fall off early when the playoffs arrive. Not having a balanced offense is often times the culprit here and turns into a counter productive item when facing a quality coach that knows how to scout using stats, word of mouth, and now the most powerful scouting tool - Broadcasting.
    Coaches now can watch your games and see that your playbook is limited to only a few players and set up a tough gameplan aimed at taking away what you are used to doing. A key concept in this is that every defensive coach makes a decision on what he is going to try to take away by scheme, and what he's going to take away by talent.

    For example, a coach may decide to use his top rated CB to take away that key WR you use all the time in a shut down CB scheme and use his defensive playcalling scheme to take away your stud RB. The Defensive Coach can now commit 8 or 9 to the box and focus his scheme on your star RB while his shutdown CB limits your WR star. The opposite is true too, the Defensive coach could double your one key WR all game (it's easy to do) and use his 7 or 8 man presure scheme to sack your QB and stuff your RB running lanes.

    Not having any other answers will likely prevent you from winning come playoff time and will almost certainly keep you out of the Super Bowl as most the time the playoff level of coaching is a step above the regular season. Most Defensive coaches come into the Playoffs understanding what they need to take away and have a plan on how to do it. Offense's that are one or two demensional are really not all that difficult to stop.

    Developing a sound scheme that uses a variety of players and plays is the great challenge of building an offense. Finding ways to allow other players to contribute in as great a role as possible is vital in keeping those top teams guessing that try to defend you.

    For example, in my scheme, I use both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in my attack running the ball. Brown is much higher rated than Williams, but I've found spreading out the carries keeps them fresher and healthier longer. This impacts not only my current games, but also progression on both players. Williams now progresses well rather than declining on the bench, and Brown doesn't wear down at the end of the season. I do the same thing with my WR's and intentionally drafted / traded for WR's that are very similiar in how they play - in my case I like speed players at the WR that can stretch the field and catch crossing routes down under. Having 3 Wr's that are similiar does the same for me at WR that having Brown and Williams does at RB and all the players get touches on the ball and progressions go nicely.

    I bring up progression because in 2k8 the regression / progression is aggressive. I have it brought up all the time by folks that our attributes are high compared to most leagues, but what many leagues / coaches fail to realize is that Madden's 2k8 regression is severe. Speed can drop as much as 8 points in a single regression, especially when a poor season stats wise is teamed with being older in age. Alternating players also helps with the fatigue factor in Madden regression. An RB with too many carries in a season can regress in stamina (vital to playing full speed and staying healthy) up to 8 points in a single regression / progression.

    I alternate every position on the field on my Dolphins roster in game except my Kicker / Punter and OL. All of my other positions, without exception alternate by formation (sub sets) or by high sub setting in game for my team.

    This provides more players the opportunity to make plays and creates a problem for defenses that want to just key on Ronnie Brown or Ted Ginn, etc, because on any given play they may have the double team going to someone not in on that play or going away from my play that is called.

    Taking the time to develop a sound sub scheme, and a roster talent base that you can use effectively is a must in competing at the top level in the CCFL. Drafting players for specific needs is something I have always believed very strongly in and that concept fits well into this idea of not relying on just a few players on Offense. Not everyone that contributes weekly for you has to be a "Star" player. What you need to bring balance to your offense is specific players that can run, block, catch, stretch the field in your scheme in a way that makes it difficult to defend you.

    #3 MUST HAVE:
    This one may come as a little bit of double-talk based on the Must Have #2, but it really is just as important. The third aspect every effective Offense "Must Have" is an aspect of your offense that you say "I am going to effectively run this every week, come hell or high water." This attitude needs to be the cornerstone of what you do as a coach Offensively. I believe it can't just be as simple as "I'm going to run with this guy or I'm going to throw to that guy." I'm talking more in terms of a system of plays that you run from the same or similar formations, motions, and the emphasis that you choose to have when you run them.

    IMO the only way you can effectively have a "system" that you run in this way you have to practice it vs everything you may see so that you know exactly what you want to do in order to counter the defensive adjustments you'll face in CCFL action. Coaches will need to understand what to run in this system and what not to run when he faces a 3-4 defense, and how that is different than what to run when he faces a 4-3 defense, Nickel or Dime. Understanding those basic aspects of a system is what makes an Offensive coach effective or not on a consistent basis.

    Some basic examples I'll provide here (There are too many to go into in one article) are:

    vs the 3-4:

    Attack: Attack the bubbles, that is the area's where there is a space between the OL and the defense. Run the ball over the OG as a starting point for all attacks against a 3-4. The Blast or Iso play was made to beat the 3-4 and teams that effectively establish the run inside can have tremendous success attacking the bubble.
    Effective Run schemes also include running the Zone blocking as the Bigger OL will engulf the smaller LB's if you slide the OL to the right spots and lead with a TE or RB.

    Effective Play Action passes will be those PA passes that fake the ball inside over the OG (especially if you have been running those plays on the run like blast or Iso, Dive, etc).

    Keep your eyes on:
    How the defense is using the OLB and Safeties. If they are bringing the blitz or run support from either on a consistent basis, you can find seems in their coverage and run support.
    Dont attack the 3-4 by doing the following: Do not attack the flats against a 3-4 unless the Defense has shown a clear OLB blitz play after play. Throwing the flats against the 3-4 can be double trouble between the Defense running cover 2 or 3 zone, man coverage, and the OLB dropping into the flats. The risk of INT throwing the flats vs 3-4 is too high and not high reward anyhow.
    If the Defense brings 9 in the box and is blitzing alot, take the ball up field on verticle routes as the Safeties and ILB's will have a difficult time upfield on a speedyslot receiver or quality TE. Again, the hitch or flats vs a 3-4 is not a good idea as the defense is a pass based, pressure defense to begin with.

    vs the 4-3:
    The 4-3 and 3-4 are exact opposites in many ways. While the 3-4 gives up the inside run a bit easier than it does the outside the 4-3 is tougher inside and allows for more plays on the edge. Remember, EVERY defense gives you something. Part of your task as an Offensive coach is discovering what each Defense gives you and what it takes away by nature. Obviously, a 4-3 has two great big strong DT's inside that protect the MLB and the 3 of them team up to take away the area between the OG's on your Offense. However, that inside toughness costs the 4-3 elsewhere, and that's where you should focus your attack.

    Attack: Attack the bubbles, that is the area's where there is a space between the OL and the defense. Run the ball over the Center or between the DT's and DE's. You may also find success running the ball wide vs a 4-3 defense.

    Effective Run schemes include Dives, Edge Power plays, Toss Alley Sweeps, and split back wide sweeps. Throw the ball to the flats, hitch, and screen areas as the OLB will likely not be able to get there in most cases and if you catch the defense out of a cover 2 situation, you may make a short throw and get a nice long gain.

    Effective Play Action passes will be those PA passes that fake the ball tight inside or on the wide Edge of the OT. However, teams that slide their 4-3 DL to your TE side (Many teams will do this) may be easy to exploit. When teams slide to your TE side, they now give you the entire aresenal of playaction (strongside and weakside) and expose themselves to big plays and to getting blocked easily upfront. (Currently, many Madden coaches getting toasted vs Play Action do not understand this concept. Madden Blocking ai easily handles alignment shifts and in Play Action particularly the OL handle the DL).

    Keep your eyes on:
    How the defense is using the DE and Safeties. If they are bringing the blitz or run support from the Safeties on a consistent basis, you can find seems in their coverage and run support. If they are using their 4-3 DE's by aligning them offset strong, weak, or to the wide or short side of the field you can slide your OL that way and manipulate your FB or TE motion to create an overload or to send a player into a friendly short route area.
    Dont attack the 4-3 by doing the following: Do not attack the area over the OG (Blasts, etc) unless your OL can easily handle the DT's. Keep in mind that even if your OL can handle the DT's, the LB's will often times be disruptive when a quality coach is running the defense when you try to run inside. Be aware that there are now 4 DL for your 5 OL to block, so you can only have one double team without using motion. Make your double team count.

    The bottom line is you need to understand where to attack the various defenses and coverages being used. That takes familiarity and practice, but once mastered it will become the staple of what you do when you have the ball.

    MUST HAVE #4:
    Simply put - you must scout your opponents. In the CCFL, you will face teams week after week that have enough talent to beat you and anyone else. It's that way by design. Every team in this league has the talent to beat anyone on a given day. There are no weak sisters in the CCFL. We do not have players with 75 aware at QB competing with teams that have 99 aware. We dont have CB's with 75 speed trying to cover WR's with 95 speed.
    Thus, coaching, and specifically gameplaning becomes a huge advantage to those that do, and a huge hinderance to those that dont. I think that is one of many differences between the CCFL and other leagues. We have a top of the line website that includes every game stat imaginable, including injuries and other vital scouting information. Coaches that are doing well typically use the statistical info to determine priorities in how to attack a defense.
    Broadcasting is new, but will be the single greatest advance in scouting. Coaches are already crowding rooms when we have games posted broadcast times up in advance of the games. The ability to watch a game and make note of tendencies in playcalling by formation, play type (run or pass), and by down and distance situations will be a great tool for active coaches to use in planning for games.

    Things to look for when scouting a Defense:

    - List all the defenses you see used by the down they used them on. Look for patterns of predictability

    - Who is responsible for contain on the defense most of the time. Understanding who is responsible to keep the run inside allows you to devise ways to block him from a variety of angles (kick out, Crackback with your WR, lead on him with an FB or TE, etc) to create a headache for the Defense.

    - Which coverages is the defense using and which downs are they using them on?

    - Look for the most used blitz packages, and who is not being used to bring pressure and work on plays that hurt that scheme in practice.

    - Look for players that consistently give up or make big plays. A big part in your playcalling in key points of the game should revolve around who is making plays for the defense and who are the victims on that defense. Sometimes a players overall isn't the real story. That 90ish CB may be horrible in the type of coverage he's being used in all the time because he's not fast enough, can't jump high enough, or not smart enough to do well what he's being asked to do.

    - Look for a constant weakness in a defense. Does the defense always have a weak player alone or an area of the field unattended due to blitzes or zone coverages? Find ways to attack there if you find one.

    - Look for ways to create mismatches. Does the Defense have a weak 60ish or 70ish stength DE on one side. Run at him. Same goes for weak DB's or LB's. Force your will on teams that use weaker players. Look for teams that have low awareness players in and target them for Play Action or crossing routes. Create mismatches with your strengths on the defenses or weaknesses. Slow - Weak - or dumb = they need to be attacked.

    - Evaluate how the Defense does bringing pressure. Will he think he can bring pressure on you with success. Plan around the expected attacks.

    - Look over the Defense's season stats. What are they doing well at over the course of the season? What have been their weaknesses?

    - Who on the Defense is hurt? Injured players can create a huge vacuum of talent and or consistency on the defense.

    Scouting a team may be the biggest single aspect of giving yourself an edge in a game. Coaches that just "show up" will always be at a disadvantage when playing a coach that has scouted and done his homework.

    I hope this new X's and O's article is helpful and leads you to having more Offensive success. The 4 key aspects of having a consistent Offense - being able to block pressure, having multiple ways of attacking a defense, having a staple system that you use as a base vs all schemes, and scouting your opponents will be ingredients in a healthy offense in the new age of broadcasting and Madden 2k8 football.

  2. DevilFin13

    DevilFin13 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Mar 22, 2008
    The blocking ai for Madden on the Wii sucks. On a not too infrequent basis you'll have defensive linemen come free, not even touched. So I usually audible a TE or RB to stay in and block. I also do like you said and run plays out of the same formation a lot. This is easy to do on the Wii with the ability to draw up your own routes.

    One thing I like to do in the easier difficulty setting is take shots downfield. Whenever I see one on one coverage I attack it. But its really hard to do on the higher difficulties. The receivers just forget how to catch and its hard to control them on the Wii.
  3. Get Up And Go

    Get Up And Go New Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    Binghamton, NY
    Too much reading:turned:


    Mar 22, 2008
    I'll try to do it in picture story version next time!
  5. Dol-Fan Dupree

    Dol-Fan Dupree Tank? Who is Tank? I am Guy Incognito.

    Dec 11, 2007
    My roommate has Ginn and Hester. He throws deep to them almost every play. He hasn't lost in three seasons.

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