Each Madden NFL season, ZFarls and SGibs journey to the EA SPORTS headquarters in Orlando. Once they get their hands on the new game, they immediately test out the new features and learn the game. With help from the developers and plenty of late nights, they put together a strategy guide that will take your game from rookie to All-Madden! Whether you like to study the guide or use it as a reference during your games, it is packed with brand-new information every season. Be sure to unlock your free eGuide for even more content, which is updated throughout the season.
After playing the next generation of Madden NFL Football, it is clear this game is on another level. Madden NFL 15 takes authenticity seriously, with broadcast-quality presentation and outstanding visuals. The game doesn’t just look better—it plays more true to life. Defensive coverages are much improved, along with more realistic running than ever before. Gamers who take the time to learn the game of football will have success. Welcome to the NFL!
Because we keep this guide in a easy-to-follow format, gamers can quickly pick up tips no matter their mode of choice. Players big into Connected Franchise Mode or Madden Ultimate Team can turn to a specific chapter focused on improving their game. If you like using a specific team, we have you covered. We have played as each of the 32 nfl teams, finding the best plays for every situation. No matter what comes up during a game, you should have a play ready that you are confident you can convert.
With so many different modes and experiences inside Madden NFL 15, how can you keep track? Well, Madden Social can be activated by clicking (Xbox) or (PS) to bring up a full notification system. This will keep you up to date, not about what your friends are doing, but about where you are needed. If you were just out-bid in a Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) auction, you will be notified and can head directly there. If you were offered a trade in Connected Franchise Mode (CFM), you can skip the menu and head directly into the mode to decide. This is a great way to keep track of everything inside Madden NFL 15.
Connected Franchise Mode (CFM)
The CFM experience continues to get deeper every season. This year, gamers will have more control than ever over their favorite franchises as they try to lead them to glory. Here are some of the biggest additions to the mode, which we will break down further in the “Connected Franchise Mode” chapter.
Practice has been overhauled in CFM this year to allow more specific focus on your team. With Game Prep, you can focus on confidence or development to prepare your team for the upcoming week.
Enhanced commissioner controls in CFM will make it easier for gamers to have ultimate control of their universe. The new tools will help online league commissioners manage up to 31 other players. It’s easier than ever before to get games completed.
Madden Ultimate Team (MUT)
MUT is the fastest-growing mode in Madden NFL and is back for another huge year. It will be easier than ever to collect, buy, and trade items to build your ultimate Madden team of NFL stars. Thanks to a completely overhauled interface, gamers will find it much easier to collect and complete sets. We have expanded our “Madden Ultimate Team” chapter to include more content this season, so check it out!
The presentation in Madden NFL 15 has shifted away from cut scenes to live on-the-field action for all platforms. This change means that all post-play action, such as celebrations, happens in real time, right on the field. Madden NFL 15 is true to broadcast quality with fantastic new camera shots.
Pre-Play Camera Controls
• Player Lock: Allows you to take full control over one player for a snap and play his position.
• Defensive Camera Perspective (Next Gen): Lock on to your favorite defender and play the game from his perspective.
• Zoom Cam Default:The new default camera makes the running game even more intense by bringing the camera in tight!
• All-22 Camera Option: Back all the way out to get a view from the sky. This will help you see more of the field when passing.
Other Improved Presentation
• New Player Ring: Gives you feedback under your player while you play, including details like stamina.
• Improved Coach and Player Models
• Halftime Recap
New Play-Call System
(Xbox One and PS4 Only)
Madden NFL 15 has overhauled the play-call system from a horizontal to a vertical look. Because last year’s Coach Glass innovation was so successful, the game now sources information based on the situation to give you a play recommendation. You can choose by strategy, community, or favorites to always make sure you have a good play ready. The game also shows you what play your opponent last ran, along with your play call, so you can see the matchup and statistics.
Madden NFL 15 doesn’t just look better, it plays more authentically, too. Fans have more control over their favorite NFL superstars. Here are a few of our favorite additions to the game this year.
New Tackling Mechanic
While veterans may be used to the hit stick, new players will get right up to speed with the new tackle controls this year. Press (Xbox) or (PS) for a conservative tackle. This should be your main way to bring down the ball carrier, especially if he is in the open field. When you have a ball carrier lined up, try the new aggressive tackle with (Xbox) or (PS), which will potentially unleash a hit stick. This is a high-risk, high-reward tackle that could force some turnovers.
New Pass-Rush Moves
The defense is back this season with the ability to go for finesse or power moves on the line of scrimmage. Once you are engaged with a blocker, look to win your battle by pressing the icon above your rusher’s head. This triggers a move from your rusher that will hopefully get him free to sack the QB.
New Kicking Experience
The new kick meter in Madden NFL 15 means that long field goals are no longer automatic. Depending on the kicker’s power, you will see a kick line appear on the field like the one you see on NFL broadcasts. It indicates where you have to get the ball to have it in your kicker’s range. This is key for the two-minute drill. Head into practice mode and practice a few FGs to get the timing down on your skill level.
Madden NFL 15 Kicking Distances by Kick Power Rating
|Kick Power||Full Power Yardage (No Wind)||Yard Line Needed|
Earn Item Reward
Complete Skills Tutorial
Run the Gauntlet
Complete Skills Drill
The Skills Trainer in Madden NFL 15 is the quickest way to learn all the controls and football knowledge you will need to dominate this year. Not only is it a great teaching tool, but it is loaded with fun challenges to test the skills you just learned. Gamers can earn different medals depending on their performance. Medals are a source of pride and also earn rewards for Madden Ultimate Team! Here is a quick rundown of what you should expect in the Skills Trainer, along with some of our favorite drills.
- If you’re a CFM gamer, don’t overlook the Skills Trainer.
The tutorial before each drill is a great teaching tool to make sure you know how to properly execute the upcoming drill. Watching a short video and practicing in a controlled environment is a nice warmup before you attempt the challenge. Focus on the controls the game is teaching during this exercise.
- Make sure to follow instructions for the skills drill; you don’t get credit for a successful rep unless you do it correctly!
- Once you have achieved bronze you are ready for online play and to take on the Gauntlet.
The Skills Trainer is back in Madden NFL 15 with more than 40 drills to help you improve your game. Freshen up on the drills from last season or try some of the brand-new ones this year. The new drills do a great job breaking down the new game mechanics, like tackling. The drill gives you 10 chances to practice everything you just learned in the tutorial in a game-style situation. The events will be random, so don’t expect a specific pattern as in the tutorial. Each drill has a certain number of points needed to earn medals. A passing score earns a bronze medal, with silver in the next tier and gold as the best. Completing all the drills may take an hour or two, but it will put you far ahead of other players who skip them. There are some solid MUT rewards and achievements for completing the drills.
|• Pass Trajectories||• Punting|
|• Acceleration Burst||• Oklahoma Offense|
|• Field Goal Kicking|
|• New Tackling Mechanic||• Ball Hawk|
|• New Pass-Rush Controls||• Oklahoma Defense|
|• New Hit Stick|
|• Attacking Cover 1||• Verticals Read Concept|
|• Attacking Cover 2||• Slant Flats Concept|
|• Attacking Cover 2 Man||• Flood Read Concept|
|• Attacking Cover 3||• Level Pass Concept|
|• Attacking Cover 4||• Drive Pass Concept|
|• Attacking Cover 6||• Shallow Cross Concept|
|• Countering the Blitz||• Spot Pass Concept|
|• Curl Flat Read Concept||• Spacing Pass Concept|
|• Stick Read Concept||• Dagger Pass Concept|
|• Smash Read Concept|
|• Pass Protection Adjustments||• The Option|
|• Precision Modifier||• Triple Option|
|• Total Control Passing||• Midline Option|
|• User-Catching||• Inverted Veer Option|
|• Backed Up at Goal Line||• Offensive Hot Routes|
|• Red Zone Offense||• Defensive Adjustments|
|• Red Zone Defense||• Offensive Audibles|
|• New Adjust Coverage||• Defensive Audibles|
The Gauntlet is a brand-new mode in Madden NFL 15 that challenges gamers by testing everything they have learned inside the Skills Trainer. Players start out with five fails and start by playing different challenges that are generated randomly. The difficulty increases the farther you go, and boss levels start to appear. Here is our guide and tips to max out your reps in the Gauntlet.
- The only thing difficulty affects at the Team Select screen is the speed of the kick meter. The difficulty of the drills is tied to what tier they are in: easy, medium, hard, or elite.
Top 5 Teams for the Gauntlet
While team skill and ratings aren’t a huge factor in most of the drills, there are some instances where having top teams will be very valuable. Here are our Top 5 picks for the Gauntlet with a few notes on why we selected them. While you should be able to beat the Gauntlet with any team, we always like to share our advantages.
5. Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson would be handy if you can make it to the final boss!
4. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton’s speed could be useful, along with the height at free safety.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben’s ability to break tackles and extend plays might provide the miracle you need to beat the Gauntlet.
2. Seattle Seahawks: Seattle’s defense should keep your fails down in the defensive challenges.
1. San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick can move the chains with his legs, and the WRs hang onto nearly every ball.
Gauntlet Boss Level Guide
Starting at level 5, the Gauntlet throws a unique challenge into the mix every five levels with a boss level. These are designed to test your creativity and stick skill. They are the same each time, so work on getting the feel down.
Level 5—Hurricane Season
- The kicking arc is your best friend on this drill; take your time and line up the swaying arc between the uprights.
This is the first boss battle, and it foreshadows some crazy events taking place in the Gauntlet. You are all the way back near your own end zone, and the game is forcing you to kick a FG! Thankfully, you have a 200-plus MPH wind at your back. This allows you to launch the ball up into the jet stream and have the wind carry it through the uprights. While this drill looks scary at first, you should complete it each time.
- Using the right stick for stumble recovery could save you a few lives on this level.
At first, this boss battle looks nearly impossible until you realize your linemen are going to dominate their blockers to the ground. The key is to start slowly down the left side of the field to let your blockers get out ahead. Allow the first five defenders to get crushed, then slowly weave your way back to the right side of the field once you cross the 50-yard line. You should run completely free for the last 30 yards with your blockers celebrating around you. You shouldn’t need to do any moves to fake out defenders on this level.
Level 15—RB Gauntlet
- Don’t bother faking out the last defender—simply outrun him with your speed advantage.
Level 15 leaves you completely solo against four tacklers. Thankfully, they follow the logic of a karate movie and don’t all attack at once. Use well-timed juke moves to get a big fake-out on the first three defenders and simply outrun the last defender. Try quickly moving the stick in one direction and then back the other way for a “double juke” that really fools the defense. Once you leave each defender in the dust, don’t slow down. If you must make a move on the last defender, be ready to execute a really quick one-step juke with the right stick. This level is all about the timing of the fake, since you are all alone.
Level 20—Extend the Play
- There is no pass rush on this play so feel free to take as much time as needed!
This is one of the most daunting boss levels at first glance, but once you learn the nuances, it becomes easier. Four different pass plays are used for this drill. Note that you do not lose a life for a completed pass that isn’t inside the hot zone. Be conservative with your passes and make sure they are all completed, even if they don’t land in the zone. Use the playmaker controls ( or and right stick) to take control of a receiver and guide him towards a hot zone. Don’t go for the end zone unless you are absolutely sure you can complete it. The entire end zone is a hot zone, but the ball takes a long time to get there and the defense can recover, which could result in a fail. By taking your time, playmakering a WR, and completing passes, you should pass this drill without fail.
Level 25—Beat the Crowd (Xbox One & PS4 Only)
- The crowd on the field can slow the ball carrier down, but they can also trip up tacklers.
The first time we saw this level it nearly induced a heart attack, but after taking a deep breath it turned out not to be too tough. The field is loaded up with other humans not dressed up in football pads and may remind you of Media Day at the Super Bowl. The bad news is that hiding among all these bodies are some defenders. More bad news is that if you run into any of the people on the field you will slow down and risk being tackled. The good news is that defenders will also slow down if they run into people. Start by heading to the middle, and weave your way to the outside right before cutting back left to get in the end zone. Remember to avoid the human traffic and use the crowd to slow down the opposing defenders.
Level 25—Minefield (Xbox 360 and PS3 Only)
- The two outside tacklers should never be a factor if you run this correctly.
The key to this level is staying through the inside lanes at the start. This will allow your blockers to pick up the defenders. Start slowly, and once they seal the first three defenders, run towards the outside and away from the tacklers. There is no need to get crazy with your route on this play—stay up the gut and break it to the outside once you pick up your first blocks.
Level 30—One Man D
This is where having a tall free safety can come in handy during the Gauntlet. Swat the pass rather than going for the interception, because you can jump higher and hopefully knock it down. A decent strategy is to move your defender up towards the 15-yard line, wait until the WRs pass by, and then follow them. This gives you a running attempt at the ball, which hopefully allows your player to jump higher. If you stand in the end zone flat-footed waiting for the ball, it will be very tough to pass this drill. Even if one of the CPU players catches the ball, try to strip it from him or knock it loose with a hit. You may get lucky with the CPU dropping the ball, and then you will advance.
- A swat ( or ) is going to be much easier to execute than getting an interception.
Level 35—Stay Alive
- Staying in the pocket as long as possible will make this drill easier.
This is the most challenging gauntlet drill, as your QB must avoid the rushers until the clock expires. If you expect to make it the full length of time, you must complete nearly half the drill by standing like a statue in the pocket. It is simply too hard to run around wild for that amount of time. Once the defense breaks in, hopefully after half the time, roll to QB’s strong side. Give yourself an extra step. When you get to the edge of the box, roll back and away from the pressure and sprint to the other side along the back line. The timer doesn’t stop until your QB hits the ground, so fight to stay up and hopefully you can break a tackle.
Level 40—Hail Mary
- Try a long bullet pass rather than throwing up a lob pass.
Beating the Gauntlet takes the luck of a hail mary, and that is the last drill. Your player should have plenty of speed to get past his first defender, so it is really up to beating the safety. Rather than waiting and lobbing the ball downfield where everyone has time to get underneath, throw a deep bullet pass as your opponent crosses the 10-yard line. If done with an “up” pass lead on the controller, the bullet pass should arrive as your WR is getting to the goal line. Click onto the WR (make sure to throw to your tallest player) and try to cut the ball off before the safety can make a play on it. If the receiver can out-jump the safety and hang on, you will have completed the Gauntlet!
- Once you have beaten all the bosses, the Gauntlet continues with hard and elite drills only. See how far you can go!
Toughest Gauntlet Drills
We’ve watched many players take on the Gauntlet, and a few drills stick out as challenging. Most can be beaten by following the instructions and making a simple read. However, a few others are much easier if you note our tips. While the drills get harder as the difficulty gets tougher, we wanted to help get you past some of the more challenging early drills.
Bullet TE (Medium)
This route has the TE running an out route towards the sideline. At first, the thought was to try and bullet it in, but there are just too many defenders early. Since you have some time in the pocket, wait until the TE hits the sideline and bounces upfield. As soon as he cuts upfield, throw a hard bullet pass and click on for a user catch. This throw can be a bit easier if you move to the left with the QB to cut down on the angle.
“Player lock” sticks you on just one player and allows you to play from his perspective. With most of the player lock drills, the action comes right towards you, so be ready. Whether staying wide on a run play or defending a pass, you are the one responsible for making a play. Don’t be thrown off by the camera in these situations. Use the defensive assist button— (Xbox) or (PS)—to help your player if you can’t adjust.
There are plenty of field goal and punt challenges mixed into the Gauntlet. You should pass the punt drills if you angle your kicks out of bounds using the new kicking arc. The challenge comes when they mix in a punt or FG fake and you are forced to throw and catch a pass with special teams. On the punt, move towards the line of scrimmage and run for the first down; if it is covered this will at least give you a shorter throw. On the FG, target the route over the middle on a quick pass.
The option is very simple for players who understand how to make the read; however, some options are exotic and require multiple quick decisions. Plays like the Veer, Triple Option, and Speed Option have different timing so make sure to practice. These drills are easy in a vacuum, but with the pressure of the Gauntlet, you may just make a mistake! If they are messing you up, try a playbook that has these handoff types, like Philly or Carolina, to get used to them.
One of our favorite plays to use in this situation is the PA Power O from I-Form H Pro. This play gives us a nice corner route to the TE, along with a flat pass. Make the simple read once the defender chooses which player to cover and complete this drill by throwing to the uncovered receiver. You also could roll out and look for the route coming across the middle of the field. Try to forget that you are near your own end zone. By calling a run play over a pass, you give yourself more options to pick up the first down.
How to Read the Defense
Learning to read defensive coverages in Madden NFL 15 is one of the easiest ways to improve. By looking for a few keys before you snap the ball, you will feel confident that you have the right play selected and can beat the defense. By learning which concepts match up well against which defense, you will always have a solid play call ready to go. Once you learn how to identify the coverage before the snap, you can then start to make reads after the snap based on how you see the defense react. This is key to becoming a great Madden NFL player.
Reading 2 Man Under
The 2 Man Under or Cover 2 Man is a defensive coverage that has each receiving option covered by a specific player in man-to-man. The defenders will follow their man assignment anywhere on the field. There are also two defenders who play in deep zones (blue) who each cover half of the field deep.
Good Concepts vs. 2 Man Under:Texas • Mesh • Stick N Nod
Bad Concepts vs. 2 Man Under:Four Verticals • Spacing • Bubble Screen
What to Look For
The two safeties will be deep on the play before the snap, while the two cornerbacks on the outside will be up close near the WRs.
2 Man Under is great for defending deep with the extra support over the top from the deep zones.
Where to Attack
Look to see who has a mismatch against his defender by using the matchup stick. TEs and HBs usually have a size or speed advantage. This coverage is also vulnerable to mobile QBs.
Reading Cover 2
Cover 2 defense is a zone coverage that uses two defenders in deep zones (blue) to split the deep half of the field. The other five defenders play underneath zones, including two flat zones (light blue) on the outside. The zone defenders will cover a WR in their area, but won’t follow him once he leaves to another defender’s zone.
Good Concepts vs. Cover 2: Four Verticals • Smash • Flood
Bad Concepts vs. Cover 2: Comebacks • Mesh • Slant Flat
What to Look For
The two safeties will be deep on the play before the snap, while the two cornerbacks on the outside will line up at a 5-yard depth. This will look similar to 2 Man Under.
Cover 2 is a solid defense for short and medium distances. Good pass rushes shorten the amount of time for WRs to get deep and beat it.
Where to Attack
The deep sideline between the CB and the safeties or the deep middle of the field between the safeties.
Reading Cover 1
Cover 1 defense is man defense that is similar to 2 Man Under, but there is only one defender in a deep zone. The other safety moves down towards the line and is most commonly on a hook zone (yellow).
Good Concepts vs. Cover 1: Slot Cross • Double Moves • Shallow Cross
Bad Concepts vs. Cover 1: Levels • Spacing • HB Slip Screen
What to Look For
There will be one defender deep in the middle of the field with the two cornerbacks playing off about 7-8 yards.
The extra defender can be used to stop something specific and makes it tougher to run against this defense.
Where to Attack
The middle of the field and deep down the sidelines.
Reading Cover 3
Cover 3 is a zone defense that looks similar to Cover 1, but all the defenders are in zone. There are three defenders in deep zones with four players playing underneath.
Good Concepts vs. Cover 3: Verticals • Curl Flat • Pivot
Bad Concepts vs. Cover 3: Slot Cross • Slant Flat • Mesh
What to Look For
There will be one defender deep in the middle of the field, with the two cornerbacks playing off about 7-8 yards.
Cover 3 has an extra defender deep compared to Cover 2, and the extra safety in the box can be great for run support.
Where to Attack
The seams between the deep zones and the area behind the LBs.
Reading Cover 4
Cover 4 defense is zone defense that has four players in deep zones splitting the field into “quarters,” The other three defenders on the play are in underneath zones, usually two flats and one hook (yellow).
Good Concepts vs. Cover 4: Stick (short) • Drive (short) • Dig/Post Combo (deep)
Bad Concepts vs. Cover 4: Verticals • Curl Flats • Mesh
What to Look For
There will be four players deep before the snap—two safeties in the middle and two CBs backed off on the outside.
“Quarters” coverage is excellent for defending the deep pass. At the snap, four defenders split the deep area of the field allowing short passes but nothing deep.
Where to Attack
The middle to deep middle of the field, along with the sideline behind the flat zone.
Reading Cover 0 Blitzing
Cover 0 defenses are known for bringing heavy blitzing pressure to try to sack the QB. They have no defenders playing in deep zones and are a high-risk, high-reward play call. Most teams reveal their intentions by moving their defenders before the snap so that they are in a good position to rush. One option is to call max protection and try to pick up all the rushers. Otherwise, the best option is to get the ball out quickly to a mismatch and hopefully make a big play.
Good Concepts vs. Cover 0: Verticals • Screen Passes • Slants
Bad Concepts vs Cover 0: Levels • Smash • Comebacks
What to Look For
Pre-snap movement from defenders and missing safeties.
The blitz forces the QB to get the ball out fast. If a player doesn’t realize the blitz is coming, a sack and loss of yards are usually the result.
Where to Attack
Deep downfield or quick passes to the middle of the field.
TOP 15 Passing Concepts in Madden NFL 15
With the new play calling in Madden NFL 15, gamers can now call passes by concept! This is ideal when you suspect the defense is going to call a certain type of coverage and you want to dial up the perfect routes to beat it. All NFL teams use these concepts in their playbooks and mix them up from various formations to keep the defense on their heels. By taking the time to learn these concepts, you will be able to excel with any team or playbook because you will have a solid grasp of real football concepts. Remember, you can also use your hot routes at the line of scrimmage to create a concept on the fly.
- The new curl route will sit inside against zone, so make sure to learn the new timing of this throw.
Sample Play: Curl Flats
Use It to Beat: Cover 3
How to Run It: This concept forces one defender to choose between two routes. If he drops down to play the flat, hit the curl route. If the defender stays back, check down to the flat. Against the right defense, this concept is nearly unguardable! Make sure to throw a bullet to the curl WR, as the deep zone defender can break down on the play if he recognizes the concept.
- The stick route is used in multiple concepts and is great for third down conversions. Master it!
Sample Plays: Stick, Quick Slant
Use It to Beat: Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4
How to Run It: This forces a zone defender to choose between a flat route and a stick route. If the defender heads to the flat, the stick will be wide open. Throw a bullet pass in and use pass lead to keep it away from any defenders.
- While smash is meant to beat Cover 2, the corner route often gets separation from man-to-man if your receiver has a high Route Running rating.
Sample Plays: Corner Strike, Smash, Double China, Bench
Use It to Beat: Cover 2
How to Run It: Smash will isolate the flat zone defender and force him to choose between the short or deep route. Most players love to throw to the corner route because of the yardage, but sometimes the defender will drop and force the check down to the flat. When throwing the corner, protect the throw with pass lead from the safety, who will break down. Look out for flat defenders; they will drop back and get more depth this season!
- The short read on shallow cross routes is very consistent against any zone coverage, although it doesn’t pick up huge gains.
Sample Plays: TE Under, PA WR In, Short Cross, Shallow Cross
Use It to Beat: Cover 3, Cover 4, 2 Man Under
How to Run It: This concept has dual dig routes coming across the field from opposite directions. Since these routes are at different depths, they force a single zone defender to choose short or deep. These routes can also get open against man when they cut inside.
- Different routes will be open depending on what type of zone the defense is playing. Don’t force the corner route.
Sample Plays: Z Spot, TE Spot, PA Spot
Use It to Beat: Cover 2 ,Cover 3, Cover 4
How to Run It: Spot is a very strong concept for a player who can make two quick reads on a play. The spot route is key to the concept, as it can hold the zone inside to make room for the corner route. While the flat route is rarely targeted, it keeps a defender occupied and is an integral part of the play. Make sure to check out PA Spot in the Goal Line formations. If the defense flows to the corner route, the curl route sits right underneath for an easy TD!
- The drag route receiver is able to use the in route receiver as a pick against a man-to-man defender.
Sample Plays: Flanker Drive, Slot Drive
Use It to Beat: Cover 3, Cover 4, 2 Man Under
How to Run It: This concept uses a deeper dig route with a drag coming underneath from the same side. The drag lines up outside the dig and creates a similar look to the levels concept. These routes will force a zone defender to choose between a short or deep responsibility. Get the ball to an agile WR underneath to maximize yards after the catch.
- Throwing a bullet pass with slants is a great idea to help protect the WR, but try not to lead him into a big hit.
Sample Plays: Slants, Quick Slant, Middle Slants
Use It to Beat: Cover 1, Zone Blitz, Cover 4
How to Run It: Slants are great quick throws where the WR breaks inside. Against zone coverage, use the flat routes to open up space in the middle. If the defense is playing man-to-man, throw a quick slant over the middle to a WR with a speed advantage.
HB Slip Screen
- Since your linemen are pulling on the play, don’t hold onto the ball with the QB!
Sample Plays: HB Screen, HB Slip Screen
Use It to Beat: Cover 3, Cover 4, Zone Blitzes
How to Run It: Screen passes are the perfect call against aggressive defenses. Wait for the HB to sneak out of the backfield and get behind the blockers. Lob the ball over the top of the defense coming after the QB and look to pick up big yards. This can be a low-risk, high-reward play call on third and long.
- Use this against press coverage because the routes usually get a free release off of the line of scrimmage.
Sample Plays: PA Slot Wheel, WR In, PA WR In
Use It to Beat:Cover 3, Cover 1
How to Run It: Switch is a solid play call when facing a defense with just one safety in the middle of the field. Your inside and outside WRs will switch before heading vertical on the play. This play is commonly run off play action, which gives the routes more time to develop. Work the middle of the field to a receiver with a good Catch in Traffic rating, or try to get a mismatch outside for a big play.
- Spacing is one of the best concepts near the goal line. Try spreading the zone defense out horizontally with five WRs.
Sample Plays: Spacing, Curls, Middle Hooks
Use It to Beat: Cover 3, Cover 4, Zone Blitz
How to Run It: Spacing is a great concept for playing against heavy zone defenses. This concept uses at least three receivers all running short routes against the defenses. These routes all have great spacing and force defenders to choose whom to cover. While the gains aren’t huge, they are consistent and can force a defense to stop calling zone.
- If your opponent calls a Cover 1 Robber, this concept should still work, but look out for the hook zone lurking in the middle.
Sample Plays: HB Circle, Mid Attack, Y-Trail
Use It to Beat: Cover 2 Man, Cover 1
How to Run It: The angle route by the HB is very tough for a man defender to stop. The TE clears out the middle and the back capitalizes on the open space. Throw a bullet pass on the cut and lead upfield. This is perfect for a team with a speedy HB who gets matched up against a linebacker.
- If your opponent covers the screen manually, target the other side of the field, but think quickly!
Sample Plays: WR Screen, FL Screen, Bubble Screen
Use It to Beat: Cover 3, Cover 4, Zone Blitzes
How to Run It: Any time you have a numbers advantage on the outside or sense the defense blitzing, look to a WR screen. The pass is simple—get it out to the WR and let the blockers set up. The faster your target on the edge, the more yards he can rack up after the catch. This is one of our favorite plays to use any time the defenders are playing way off.
- A simple example of the flood concept is a play like PA Power O. Don’t force the downfield ball if the flat is wide open.
Sample Plays: Flood, PA Power O, PA Saints Sail, Close Corner
Use It to Beat:Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4
How to Run It: Flood is a three-route concept that uses three different depths to stress defenses. Target the flat route against Cover 4. Target the out route against Cover 3. The vertical route on the play should take any deep defenders away. If you have a size advantage you can throw deep against Cover 2.
- Running the play Verticals from Gun Bunch is a great way to use this concept with a unique formation to give the defense a different look.
Sample Plays:Seattle, Verticals, Four Verticals
Use It to Beat: Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 6
How to Run It: Once you get a zone read, you should always have one extra target going deep that the defense can’t cover. Be patient and wait for your read to develop downfield, and block a halfback if needed for more time. Throw a bullet pass, but look out for the MLB in Cover 2 if he drops deep in the middle.
- Any formation with two TEs on the line of scrimmage, such as Singleback Ace, will be really tough for defenses to defend in short yardage.
Sample Plays: Inside Cross, Mesh Post
Use It to Beat: Cover 2 Man, Cover 1
How to Run It: This is a great play call against man-to-man coverage. Because of how close the routes run, defenders will have a tough time keeping up. Lead the receiver so he can cut it upfield for a bigger gain. If a defender catches on, try using the zig hot route to completely fake him out.
Plays in Madden NFL 15
Last season, we shared our Top 25 plays in the game for players who like to use custom playbooks. While many of those plays are still great, this year we completely overhauled the list with all-new plays and tightened it up so you will have exactly what you need to dominate. Try these plays out and add them into a playbook with your other favorites!
You can also view a video breakdown of these plays at MaddenTips.com.
Gun Snugs —Zona Seams
Playbook: Cardinals Concept: VerticalsPersonnel: 1RB, 0TE, 4WR
What Makes It Great: The routes on this play get deep into tender areas against zone coverages.
How to Run It: Look for the quick pass against man coverage to the inside. Against zone, wait for the WRs to clear the LBs and throw a bullet pass.
When to Use It: Any time you see zone coverage or need to pick up a long conversion.
Gun Ace Offset —HB Counter
Playbook: Eagles Concept: Counter Personnel: 1RB, 2TE, 2WR
What Makes It Great: The ability to seal the edge and gash aggressive defenses for big gains. Set it up with the more consistent Inside Zone play from this formation.
How to Run It: Use the balance of this formation to determine if the defense is cheating to one side. Be patient with the ball carrier and wait until the blocks get set.
When to Use It: This is a great second and long play because it can pick up big chunks of yardage.
46 Bear —Cover 3
Playbook: 46 Concept: Cover 3 Personnel: 4-6
What Makes It Great: The stock purple zones on this play drop into a nice coverage shell while still looking strong vs. the run.
How to Run It: User-control the MLB in the middle. If you suspect a pass to one side, you can blitz the OLB on the right for pressure.
When to Use It: This is a solid early-down defense that can make it tough for players who can’t beat zone easily.
4-3 Under —Edge Sting
Playbooks: Bear, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Bucs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Giants, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks, Vikings Concept: Man Blitz Personnel: 4-3
What Makes It Great: This defense sends quick pressure up the middle and results in plenty of sacks.
How to Run It: This defense requires no setup. Try controlling the LB covering the HB. Only cover the HB if he runs a route; otherwise just clog the middle of the field.
When to Use It: This is a great third down play call to surprise your opponent and get a sack.
Nickel Normal —Cover 1 Robber Press
Playbook: Seahawks Concept: Cover 1 Personnel: Nickel
What Makes It Great: The elite talent at CB allows for aggressive coverages.
How to Run It: Make sure to user-control the safety who drops down in the hook (yellow) zone. Only teams with elite speed will consider throwing deep.
When to Use It: This coverage can be played a big percentage of the game if you have the talent on the roster.
Gun Empty Trey —WR Screen
Playbooks: 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Broncos, Bucs, Cardinals, Chargers, Cowboys, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles, Jets, Lions, Packers, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Vikings
Concept: FL/SE Screen Personnel: 1RB, 0TE, 4WR
What Makes It Great: This play isn’t hard to stop if the defense knows it is coming, but a well-timed play call can be devastating. Low-risk, high reward.
How to Run It: Get the ball out quickly to your WR, and be patient as the blocks develop.
When to Use It: Whenever you see the defensive coverage back or sense a heavy blitz.
Singleback Ace —Rams HB Zone
Playbooks: Bears, Chargers, Cowboys, Dolphins, Giants, Jaguars, Packers, Panthers, Ravens, Seahawks, Vikings
Concept: Outside Zone Personnel: 1RB, 2TE, 2WR
What Makes It Great: This is a consistent run that can be cut up the middle for short yardage or bounced outside for a big gain.
How to Run It: Watch the TE on the play and see if they double team the defenders. This will be the read to cut the run inside or outside.
When to Use It: Early in the game to show commitment to the run, as well as late in the game to close out wins.
Gun Split Close —Close FB Trail
Playbooks: Cardinals, Redskins, Titans, Steelers
Concept: Texas Personnel: 1RB, 1TE, 3WR
What Makes It Great: These crossing patterns are nearly impossible to defend manually.
How to Run It: Look for the quick pass over the middle. If it’s covered, the trail route will fill in nicely.
When to Use It: This is a great short-yardage conversion play, and it can also beat the blitz.
Nickel Strong —Sugar Cover 3 Bluff
Playbooks: Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Dolphins, Jaguars, Lions, Texans, Vikings
Concept: Cover 3 Personnel: Nickel
What Makes It Great: The way the LBs line up makes opponents think blitz, but at the snap they drop back into coverage.
How to Run It: For a passive approach, run it standard while controlling the safety. For a more aggressive call, try blitzing one or both of the LBs to get pressure.
When to Use It: In passing situations when your opponent is looking to target the middle of the field.
Pistol Bunch TE —PA Fork
Playbooks: Broncos, Saints, Run N Gun Concept: Switch
Personnel: 1RB, 1TE, 3WR
What Makes It Great: Most defenses expect to see the QB as a running threat from the pistol formation, but this play is perfect for pocket passers. It relies on the strong power run, then a play action fake with a TE corner route that is very tough to cover.
How to Run It: After the fake, look to the TE on the corner route; if he’s covered, look back across the middle for the cutting slot WR at similar depth.
When to Use It: After setting up the defense with pistol runs.
Gun Trey Open —Buck Sweep Read Opt
Playbook: Panthers Concept: Read Option
Personnel: 1RB, 2TE, 2WR
What Makes It Great:If the pulling guards can get to the edge and hold their blocks, this play has TD potential.
How to Run It: If the DE crashes down, keep the ball with your QB. Otherwise give it to your HB and follow your lead blockers. Look out for DBs who shed their blocks.
When to Use It: This is a high-risk, high-reward run that can be run in long-yardage situations.
3-4 Solid —Trio Sky Zone
Playbooks: 49ers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Eagles, Falcons, Packers, Redskins, Steelers, Texans, Titans (3-4, Multiple D) Concept: Zone Blitz 3 Deep Personnel: 3-4
What Makes It Great: The blitzing LB really puts pressure on the lineman and allows your zone defenders to stop the run.
How to Run It: Spread your defensive line and give the run up the middle. User-control the MLB in a hook and look to get wide and set the edge. This play can be vulnerable to the left, so flip it if needed.
When to Use It: Only on early downs against any sets with one or two wide receivers, when a run or PA pass is likely.
Gun Trey Open —Slot Dig
Playbook: Browns Concept: Dagger Personnel: 1RB, 0TE, 4WR
What Makes It Great: The outside routes allow WRs to win one-on-one battles, while the inside routes are consistent throws.
How to Run It: Hot route the slot WR on the in route to a drag/slant. This will give you a quicker window against man. Against zone, look to the right seam first, then back left to the solo WR. The HB is a great quick read vs. the blitz.
When To Use It: Anytime you see cover 2 or 3 or need to pick up a long conversion.
Nickel 3-3-5 Wide —Cover 2 Man
Playbooks: 49ers, Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Eagles, Falcons, Jets, Packers, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings
Concept: Cover 2 Man Personnel: Nickel
What Makes It Great: This is a very flexible formation that can defend hurry-up offenses and stop mobile QBs. It is set up to stop the outside run.
How to Run It: Play 2 Man Under coverage, unless you expect your opponent to scramble (then use Cover 1 Contain). User-control the LB on the HB.
When to Use It: Start the game with this coverage, then when your opponents get a feel for it, change to Cover 2 zone and try to catch them off guard.
Gun Bunch HB Str —Z Spot
Playbook: 49ers Concept: Spot
Personnel: 1RB, 1TE, 3WR
What Makes It Great: The routes on this play are all solid for beating man-to-man with minimal adjustments. This is a unique formation with the HB lined up behind the bunch. The HB can be used to block or run a wheel route.
How to Run It: Put the far WR in the bunch on a drag and look there first. Check the corner route second, and last but not least is the solo WR route, which develops late and must be user-defended.
When to Use It: This is a key play for third and medium situations or against man coverage.