Jim's Guide to "Layin' the Smack Down" on Defense
As with the running guide, some of this may be all too familiar to the veterans of this site.
I decided to start another franchise to explore the defensive side of the ball. I saved the Raiders and opened up a new franchise with the Dolphins and 99% of the time I control the ILB which, in this case, is Zack Thomas who isn't the fastest LB, but he is a great run stuffer.
Lets start by putting a damper on the "speedy LB theory". Last year, Ovidian and I concluded that a OLB with great speed could beat the O'line on the outside and pressure the QB all day. I've tested our theory on the latest installment of Madden and found that at the JR levels of Madden this is still an effective defensive stylenot so for the Madden level player. Using this style of defense as a base is going to get you one or two sacks more than normal, but it also opens up their passing/running game if they smell the blitz, but having one or two speedy ILB's will help immensely. Also, choosing DT's with good AWR will improve the pass defense because players will jump at the line when the ball is thrown. I've had rookies with low OVR and good AWR lead the league in pass deflections.
What I do is drop my LB back about 3 to 4 yards before the ball is snapped. You see defense is just like offense and picture, if you can, the LB as a RB. Does the RB stand real close to the o'line before the snapno. If that were the case then the RB wouldn't have any time to allow running lanes to develop. It's the same exact thing with the LB. If he's to close to the d'line he's going to get involve with the o'lines forward momentum and that takes him right out of the play.
As the ILB/MLB you have one main target and three secondary targets. Your main target is the HB, if he's handed the ball for an up the gut run, plug his hole with authority, use the power tackle. If he's running to the outside speed-burst out there. You don't necessarily have to make the play, your objective is to "herd" him inside where your defensive line and LB's are waiting. If you see a screen setting up, get to the QB using the ball lane. If he passes to the screening HB/FB before you get to him jump up and get a hand on the ball. If the HB is blocking or entering another zone then take a quick look at what the TE, slot and QB are doing (these are your secondary targets. If the TE is coming over the middle simply pop him or get in his way, be sure to stay inside the TE to jump for the ball if it comes. Now, if the TE is blocking than look for the quickest route to the QB. Hopefully a lane has opened up for you to blitz through, if not, pursue from the short side of the field unless the QB is rolling to the other side.
Sometime you'll find that your defense is having a really, really, really bad day. You may have to adjust to at least stop the big plays:
If their HB is using my front seven as a door mat I will call blitzing plays or man coverage plays, shift the line to the long side of the field, call bump and run and control the safety that comes up. Now if he runs he has a LB zeroing in, a CB and a safety. If he runs the short side of the field he has little to no room after my ILB and blitzing safety charge in. If he runs the long side, he has to cut wider because of the line shift, the safety and CB are forcing him inside and the LB's are coming over for the stop. This style of defense helped me a great deal when I was having trouble with Bettis and Stewart. If he's running up the gut speed-burst that safety in to help make the stop.
Oh My GodIt's Randy Moss
Taking a receiver out of the game is easier than you think, especially if you have the lead and you know he has to pass. I tried several methods against the "Freak" and I found a couple of effective methods that kept the receptions to a minimum:
Ever jam a WR at the line of scrimmage with a LB? How about calling bump and run and bring the safety within 5 yards of the WR and jamming him on your way to the QB? You would be surprised how often a WR ends up on his ass when this is executed properly. If you can't get the jam down, try shadowing the WR with the safety.
Time to Hit the Guy in the Skirt
Sacking the QB takes more finesse than last year. There is no guaranteed method of getting in his face every down, but it's still fun to try. For pass rushing I like the 3-4. I shift the line to space my d'line evenly and I control the MLB. 3-4 stud is a really good one because the blocking FB/HB can't pick up both OLB blitzing in, but if you use this play to frequently, they will start to burn you big time. Stunting plays and mixing the blitz package seems to be an effective way of getting one or two sacks a game, which is more realistic in my opinion. I use man coverage on almost every play until the offense proves that they can beat me. If it's just one player who seems to be giving my "D" a headache, I jam him or try to double or triple the coverage on him.
Keep in mind that you're still controlling the MLB/ILB, but be ready to switch if you see one of your guys with a shot at the QB.
4-3 and Nick are good formations for covering the pass or run, depending on the play. I rarely use dime unless the opposing team is going to have to pass to put points on the board quickly.