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Defensive Improvments for Madden 11 Part 2 - Pass Rush, Line Stunt, Gap Assignments

Posted 07-24-2009 at 05:26 PM by LBzrule
Pass Rush

In this blog I want to focus on the pass rush. I want to first look at the basic pass rush and running the arc by defensive ends. Second, I want to focus on defensive line stunts and talk about implementing on the fly line stunts. Before closing out however, I need to bring to light what underlines the previous point, namely, attacking gaps. This blog will feature two videos.

If you’ve read many of my post on the board in regard to the pass rush, I’ve always mentioned the DE or OLB running the arc. The Madden 10 videos did not showcase this. There are probably some things we will have to do to make this happen in Madden 10. In Madden 2011 if we are going to have the same play call system I think we can get what we want by either following Bezo’s suggestion of tying the pass rush to run/pass commit. Or just allowing the fan stunt to give us what we are looking for. The current fan stunt has the DE’s going out too far before turning up then field. This does not apply to line stunts where the DE loops or twists inside. However, it does apply to half line jet stunts to the defensive end that is not stunting.

Bezo’s suggestion was to have the pass commit alter the DE’s pass rush path. Instead of running into the tackle the Defensive End or OLB runs the arc up the field. If pass commit is not selected then the DE/OLB stays on the same path. But it appears pass commit has been taken out of Madden 10. So my suggestion is to simply allow the fan line stunt operate this way. Let’s look at this in action so we can get a good visual.

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On the first play Calvin Pace tries to outrun the offensive tackle up the field. Notice he does not make contact with the Tackle at the line. He is well into the backfield before he even makes contact. This is what selecting pass commit should do. Get the DE/OLB to peel his ears back and run the arc.

On the second play we get a glimpse of Terrell Suggs run the arc and attempt to run past the Steelers offensive tackle. But notice how fast Suggs gets there. Ben has not even finished his drop and Suggs is on the same level on the field where the QB is standing. Ben has to stay up in the pocket.

On the next play, Demarcus Ware just uses his speed and explodes past the Giants left tackle and gets the sack. Notice how quick this pressure comes. Eli bounces off of his feet in his drop and then gets dropped.

Next, Gregg Ellis rushes Manning and he is up the field fast enough to be 1 yard away from Eli as Eli takes his last step in his drop. However, the Left Tackle keeps him at bay. But watch Chris Canty here just bully the guard and provide the pressure.

On the next play watch Giants DT set up Leonard Davis for the inside move without engaging. Also on the replay where Tom Coughlin is speaking, notice that the DE’s do not engage the Cowboy offensive tackles until they are 4 yards into the backfield. So there are three points of emphasis here: 1) Beating an offensive lineman without engaging him; and 2) the engage point of the defensive ends are not at the line of scrimmage but well behind it; and 3) the defensive ends in real life if they run the arc are a lot closer to the QB when they engage the offensive tackles than they are in Madden 10.

Next we have a beautiful display of everything from above with Bears DE Alex Brown using the Bull Rush to get to the QB. Brown never engages the Saints Left Tackle. He sets him up for the Bull Rush, gets rid of him and gets to Brees as he finishes his drop.

New Emphasis: D-Lineman given tendencies to use specific moves – Bull Rush, Push and Pull, Hand Slap Down, Spin, Rip, Swim. All of these barring the spin are power moves. So defensive linemen/OLB’s that have a high power moves rating need to be tagged with specific moves. They also need a combo move set. Let me provide an example.

Alex Brown - Power Move 85 – Bull Rush
……………... Combo Moves 60 – Hand Slap + Spin

What this means is that Brown is above average when he is speed rushing and deploys his power move – Bull Rush. This move should be offset by the offensive lineman’s pass block and Pass Block Footwork ratings. So if Brown goes up against a Tackle who’s pass block rating is 85 and up and who has the footwork to keep up with his speed, they can offset his Bull Rush move which then triggers his combo moves, which in this case the lineman’s ratings would be superior to his combo move. What this does is explain why Brown shows up in some games and in others he does not. Facing a stud tackle he gets nullified, UNLESS, we start stunting him inside on jet stunts and stunting him to the opposite B gap on loops where he might find an advantage with respect to the former and might find and empty gap with respect to the latter.

On the last play we see Terrell Suggs and Jarrett Johnson both get deep into the backfield and “slim” the pocket. They are three yards into the backfield before they try to duck under the Tackles, turn the corner and get by them.


1) Fan line stunt alters the DE’s and OLB’s pass rush lane – run the arc.
2) The Edge rusher should not engage the tackle until at least 3 yards deep depending on his speed. Sometimes the rusher may get 4 yards deep – Engage Point.
3) The Defenders should not always engage the lineman then make a move. He should be able to set up a lineman for a move and beat him - Break Points
4) Specific Moves and Combo Moves countered by Pass Blocking and Pass Block Footwork.

Defensive Line Stunts

In this unit of the blog I want to talk about Defensive Line Stunts on two levels. I want to focus on the execution of the line stunts and then talk about on the fly line stunts and their implementation into the game.

First, let me touch on defensive line stunts. Defensive line stunts are in Madden as a part of specific plays. We also have on the fly line changes. Notice my language changes here. I called them on the fly line movement changes. Why would I use that language instead of stunts? Let me try to clarify my use of terms here. First I said the game has stunts as a part of plays. Next I said the game has on the fly movement changes. Let me clarify these. In the first statement I talk about line stunts as only that which is “drawn up,” that is, play art. Execution wise however, the result of the drawn up stunts are the same as the on the fly movement changes. In other words, there are no real stunts; there are only movement paths. Now if we continue to another layer here there are only movement paths because there is no emphasis on gaps and penetration of gaps. I will touch on this in the last unit of the blog. As the game is right now it is based on movement and alteration of the lineman’s movement, but not on gaps and penetration of gaps.

Let’s look at some line stunts and their execution in real life. On the video I have the following:

NOT (DT Twist) – Nose First, tackle around
Tex jet stunt - tackle first, end around
Ex Jet stunt - End/Backer first, Tackle around
Mex Stunt – Odd Personnel with the Middle Backer going first and the DE looping around inside.
EB - End first, Backer around

Let’s look at the video then talk about what is noticeable with respect to defensive line stunts.

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Play 1: NOT Stunt (Nose First, Tackle Around)

The Jets have a four-man line. The Nose here is lined up over the left guard (viewpoint = back of offense). Both ends are lined up in 7 techniques outside the tackles. On the snap the Nose will pull the Guard inside as he attempts to penetrate. Because this is a screen play the Guard has to follow because the Center is vacating. On drop back pass plays the Nose should still influence the Guard and pull him inside attacking his inside shoulder and the outside shoulder of the Center. The DT, played by Jets DE Ellis will loop around the penetration into the B gap area and make his way to the QB. Notice his first step is forward to allow the Nose to influence the Guard. This delay is just what the Defensive line needs to run the stunt effectively. Also notice how smooth they run this. Defenders are not bumping into each other. Secondly, the penetration by the Nose and the Loop by the Tackle are gap based. Notice the Nose has his aim point, namely the inside shoulder of the Guard and outside shoulder of the Center. He also has a purpose – penetrate. The Tackle also has his loop point, namely B gap.

Madden’s Problem: In Madden and NCAA the stunt is missing the penetration and loop point because there is no emphasis on gaps and gap penetration. Therefore you get the two stunting players running wide, running into each other and serving no purpose. This needs to be resolved. Now, on CD, Ian did address one of these in the Nickel defense through animation swaps via the ANT tool. But as I saw later videos I saw it was back to the old movement. ☹

Play 2: Tex Jet Stunt (Tackle First, End Around)

On this play, the Ravens have the personnel for the 1-5-5, but they line up in 3-3 (all I am using these numbers to refer to are personnel), with two OLB’s playing the Tackle and End Spots on the left side (JJ playing DT and Antwan Barnes playing DE). Suggs, Scott and Lewis are stand up guys and Pryce is the one down lineman (see Fronts and Game Plan blog in the next couple of weeks to see ideas of how this can be pulled off).

On the snap, Johnson will aim at the outside shoulder of the guard. Rather than delaying, Barnes will take a step forward as well. Once Johnson penetrates at his aim point, namely the outside shoulder of the Guard which is the B gap, Barnes is now in position to come off of his *** and penetrate the A gap. Notice the protection slides and doubles the pass rush strength here. Suggs and Pryce get doubled. Barnes hits the A gap untouched and forces Ben to move. He’s able to hit Ben as he makes the pass. Again, the stunt has a penetrator and a looper.

Madden Problem: Again with respect to the Tex Jet Stunt in Madden and NCAA the stunt is missing a penetrator and a looper. The defenders simply “move” in the right directions, but they do not have aim points. The DE’s run way too far inside in Madden. They need to have the A gap on their side as an aim point.

Play 3: Ex Stunt

On this play the Jets widen their defensive line. Notice the tackles are in 5 techniques and the DE’s are in 7 techniques. At the top of the screen we will get a half line Ex Stunt. That is End first, tackle around.

Play 4: Mex Stunt

Here we have a Mex Stunt with the Middle backer going first and the End Looping inside. Notice the Middle Backer influences the Guard to go with him wide and his aim point is the inside shoulder of the Right Tackle. The Right Tackle is influenced by the DE with the DE’s initial step. Then the end loops inside to the A gap. He is picked up by the Center but his angle allows him to have forward progress towards the QB and so he crawls to the QB and forcing him back into Calvin Pace who runs the arc and gets around the LT for the sack.
Play 5: Tex Stunt 2

On this play the Bills run the Tex stunt with the tackle going first and the end looping back inside to the A gap. Now while the end does get picked up here, notice how his angle and forward momentum keeps him towards the QB rather than getting caught and dancing in place. So anytime this stunt is run, the looping if he does get picked up, should have momentum to continue towards the QB and collapse the middle.

Play 6: EM Stunt

On this last play we get what I like to call the EM stunt. This stunt has the DE going first and the OLB looping inside of him into the B gap and the ILB firing to the A gap. The HB has to stay in and step up here or the QB is grass.


Now the question is how do we get these stunts in our on the fly line calls? Here we go. To call the normal calls we do as follows:

Crash Left – LB + Right Stick left
Crash Right – LB + Right Stick right
Fan – LB + Right Stick Up
All In – LB + Right Stick Down
NOT – LB + Right Stick Up x 2
Tex – LB + Right Stick Left x 2
Ex – LB + Right Stick Right x 2
Loop – LB + Right Stick Down x 2

The Mex and EM stunts are for Odd front teams only and includes linebackers in the line stunt call and can be swapped out with loop. I do not have a video of loop, but am searching for it. Essentially the loop stunt calls the weak DE to loop to the B gap on the opposite side, while the Tackles crash left. This means that the DT opposite the looping DE must influence the Guard to open up the B gap for the DE. He should penetrate the A gap to his side, while the loopside DT should penetrate the B gap on the loop side.

Closing Thoughts:

Now let me return to gap assignments because in order for line stunts to be really effective gap assignments must be programmed into the game, not simple movement assignments.

1) Stunts in Madden are rough and needs to be smoothed out
2) Players running stunts should have purposes and aiming points
3) Defenders should be able to influence offensive linemen
4) Implement new line stunts on the fly
5) Add gap assignments so that Dlinemen loop to gaps or crash into gaps.
Total Comments 13


also need run fits and run assignments for linebackers and safeties
Posted 07-24-2009 at 06:13 PM by HolyCrap HolyCrap is offline
That's coming. The crash right and left should help us somewhat with run fits. I just want some semblance of gap assignment and penetration, which the game does not have yet.
Posted 07-24-2009 at 06:16 PM by LBzrule LBzrule is offline
the D line seem to loop around a lot and they seem to just hold up the Oline then magically break off for a tackle rather than trying to create penetration by pushing the olineman back
Posted 07-24-2009 at 06:59 PM by HolyCrap HolyCrap is offline
Yeah it's because the game has movement behavior and not gap assignments. So when we stop the run it's a matter of being lucky and not really about having a sound plan I'm not fond of that.
Posted 07-24-2009 at 07:12 PM by LBzrule LBzrule is offline
also the run blocking isn't too dynamic either so many times one stops a run because of AI incompetence rather than the right play call.
Posted 07-24-2009 at 07:42 PM by HolyCrap HolyCrap is offline
Also linebackers boxing the ball and spilling the ball needs to be added so its not the whole defense chasing the ball carrier around.

Seems in Madden all defense does is react they can rarely dictate the action like some defenses do in real life ex. steelers, ravens,eagles and many others
Posted 07-24-2009 at 07:59 PM by HolyCrap HolyCrap is offline
I have a linebacker blog ready, but I'm not going to put up any more blogs right now.
Posted 07-25-2009 at 10:31 AM by LBzrule LBzrule is offline
rudyjuly2's Avatar
EA has never done the DE pass rush well and we talked about this briefly in the demo impressions. I really want to see the DEs get upfield faster and be able to pressure/sack the QB without engaging the OT. Still waiting to see this addressed in both Madden and NCAA. You know I'm not a fanboy but 2K4/2K5 did this aspect very well.

This is probably the biggest omission on the defensive side of things. I know you would like to get separate coverages from secondary play but that's probably not going to happen. I would like to see bigger defensive playbooks that would give us more of these options perhaps.
Posted 07-26-2009 at 06:46 AM by rudyjuly2 rudyjuly2 is offline
Da_Czar's Avatar
LBzrule I have a problem with your work.... Can you be a little more specific ????... LOL Great work man ! HOpefully they can get some/all of this into the game for 11. Very enjoyable to read through that man. Loved it !
Posted 07-27-2009 at 12:06 PM by Da_Czar Da_Czar is offline
Thank you LBzrule.......great examples....and I like your suggestions for implementing in Madden 2011. They could put an ON-Line Video manual for everyone to use and learn detail gameplay options for Madden Hardcore.
Thanks for the time you put into it.

A game
Posted 07-27-2009 at 10:47 PM by Agame Agame is offline
Sound, well thought out stuff as always.
Posted 07-28-2009 at 08:14 AM by sportyguyfl31 sportyguyfl31 is offline
Enjoyed the read! Thanks. Do you think that on All-Madden difficulty premier pass rushers like Terrell Suggs or even behemoths like Haynesworth will demolish o-lines all the time? I see this all the time where the difficulty setting supersedes the player ratings, thoughts? Thanks again!
Posted 07-28-2009 at 02:49 PM by enfilade22 enfilade22 is offline
Thanks for the comments guys. enf, I don't think they should do it all the time. Fatigue should come into play, match up, ect., To me all madden should make the game speed faster, but ratings should not be negated.
Posted 07-28-2009 at 03:26 PM by LBzrule LBzrule is offline

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