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Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

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Old 11-23-2010, 09:41 PM   #1
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Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

The offensive improvements we've seen in Next Gen Madden have been a double edged sword. The passing game (in terms of concepts, plays, formation) is outstanding. Run blocking made incredible strides this season. You can even run a pretty darn good version of the option (triple or zone-read style) if you want too.

Make no mistake, the playbooks you see in Madden and NCAA are VERY good. If you think they're limited, well, you don't know what your doing. Sorry, no politically correct way to say that.

In fact, I can't play against the computer anymore because the playbooks are so good. It's like watching Michigan's defense everytime I fire up the game (and I've watched that defense, all season, it's been brutal).

This is obviously undesireable. I don't like the online game much, just not my cup of tea, but the offense is so GOOD that I keep wanting to play. The question becomes how do you fix this? Sliders won't do the job, it's not a slider issue. It might limit my scoring, but not in a way that makes it fun to play. All it does is create psychic DB's and JV-level lineman.

So the hope turns to 2012 and what needs to be done. IJust like they did with the offense, it's time to go back to basics. What are "defensive" basics?
-Alignment.
-Assignment.
-Continuity.

Lets go into some detail then....
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Old 11-23-2010, 11:36 PM   #2
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Alignment

The #1 issue with EA football defense is poor defensive alignment. You have probably heard banter about playing good, SOUND defense. What makes a defense sound? Matching numbers and having a
"contain" player.

Here is an example of an offensive formation.


WR...............T..G..C..G..T..TE
...........................Q............TE
............................F
............................H

The offense has "4" on the right and "3" on the left. The F and H can go both directions. The defense should reflect this by putting more defenders to the offensive right than the offensive left. However, often the AI will align itself like this.

.............$........................$
.....................L........L
C.........L....E........N....T...E................ .........C
WR...............T..G..C..G..T..TE
...........................Q............TE
............................F
............................H

That would be the "under" or "over" defense in the playbook. I count 5 defenders on the offensive right. I count 6 on the offensive left.

Also, note how the corner is aligned way off of the Tightends. What's he going to do over there? It's like the defense is playing with 10 guys...

If you were to call a running play to the right side, say "Power O" , it should be a consistant 7-8-9 yard play (even more with stick skills). Outisde of getting the defensive end to get a nice animation and blow up the play it's easy.

Compare that to how the defense SHOULD align....

.............$........................$
.........................L........L
C.............E....T......N......E...L....C
WR...............T..G..C..G..T..TE
...........................Q............TE
............................F
............................H

Magic. Same play call. Just a proper alignment. The corner is nice and tight and can actually help the play. The defense has matched numbers (They have 6 defenders on the offensive right). Can the offense still gain yards? Absolutley, but they have to get solid blocks on "E" and "L." It's not freebie yards.


Or, it might not feel the need to cover everybody

C...............$.........................$
..........................L.......L
....................L..T......N.....E...L.....C
WR..................T..G..C..G..T..TE
.....WR....WR.............Q..............
...............................H

Again, count the defenders. They have 6 on the offensive right. The offense has 3. At the same time, you have a trio of virtually uncovered WR. You can throw to the flats, or right up the seam, every snap.

Or, for you NCAA fans...just look at the speed option.
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Old 11-24-2010, 06:40 AM   #3
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Love defensive minded posts.

I have to say though, that the D in Madden, while not perfect, is pretty serviceable. I can shut down pretty much anyone I play against with the D that I run.

Also, while I agree with you whole heartedly on the lack of attention to detail when it comes to D in Madden, all the issues you mentioned, can be addressed with manual control, shifts and some of the pre snap alignment calls. Again, not perfect, but serviceable.

Personally, I enjoy it this way. There is nothing better than watching my opponents get pissed and say that I am cheating as I shift and slant right into their plays because I recognize their plays from formation. I take great pleasure in that.
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:20 AM   #4
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sven Draconian
Alignment

The #1 issue with EA football defense is poor defensive alignment. You have probably heard banter about playing good, SOUND defense. What makes a defense sound? Matching numbers and having a
"contain" player.

Here is an example of an offensive formation.


WR...............T..G..C..G..T..TE
...........................Q............TE
............................F
............................H

The offense has "4" on the right and "3" on the left. The F and H can go both directions. The defense should reflect this by putting more defenders to the offensive right than the offensive left. However, often the AI will align itself like this.

.............$........................$
.....................L........L
C.........L....E........N....T...E................ .........C
WR...............T..G..C..G..T..TE
...........................Q............TE
............................F
............................H

That would be the "under" or "over" defense in the playbook. I count 5 defenders on the offensive right. I count 6 on the offensive left.

Also, note how the corner is aligned way off of the Tightends. What's he going to do over there? It's like the defense is playing with 10 guys...

If you were to call a running play to the right side, say "Power O" , it should be a consistant 7-8-9 yard play (even more with stick skills). Outisde of getting the defensive end to get a nice animation and blow up the play it's easy.

Compare that to how the defense SHOULD align....

.............$........................$
.........................L........L
C.............E....T......N......E...L....C
WR...............T..G..C..G..T..TE
...........................Q............TE
............................F
............................H

Magic. Same play call. Just a proper alignment. The corner is nice and tight and can actually help the play. The defense has matched numbers (They have 6 defenders on the offensive right). Can the offense still gain yards? Absolutley, but they have to get solid blocks on "E" and "L." It's not freebie yards.


Or, it might not feel the need to cover everybody

C...............$.........................$
..........................L.......L
....................L..T......N.....E...L.....C
WR..................T..G..C..G..T..TE
.....WR....WR.............Q..............
...............................H

Again, count the defenders. They have 6 on the offensive right. The offense has 3. At the same time, you have a trio of virtually uncovered WR. You can throw to the flats, or right up the seam, every snap.

Or, for you NCAA fans...just look at the speed option.
Not to change the subject, but zone-blocking is still not implemented right and there really aren't true protection schemes present in the game.

The other thing about offense is while they are trying to implement some "concepts" that are prevalent among NFL offenses, route depths are often way off. This is primarily because the timing is off. The receivers do not cover as much ground as quickly as they should, leading to routes being programmed to break off at shallow depths, which causes major field-spacing issues.

As for the defense, the number's matching is an issue, but like the other poster said, at least you can adjust, which is more realistic any way. Defenses must adjust their alignments to the offense's formation before every snap, although maybe the game should do it automatically.

I feel that another major problem for defense is the lack of true gap control. The game designers need to find a way to utilize true defensive assignments (Force, alley/plug, scrape and cutback responsiblilties) instead of just having the DL blow up attempted blocks.
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Old 11-24-2010, 12:04 PM   #5
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Quote:
Originally Posted by havokeff
Love defensive minded posts.

I have to say though, that the D in Madden, while not perfect, is pretty serviceable. I can shut down pretty much anyone I play against with the D that I run.

Also, while I agree with you whole heartedly on the lack of attention to detail when it comes to D in Madden, all the issues you mentioned, can be addressed with manual control, shifts and some of the pre snap alignment calls. Again, not perfect, but serviceable.

Personally, I enjoy it this way. There is nothing better than watching my opponents get pissed and say that I am cheating as I shift and slant right into their plays because I recognize their plays from formation. I take great pleasure in that.
Not really. Look at his first example with the db way outside and totally out of the play. It's really hard to manually get him into position and have time to do anything else defensivly, so the best option is to shift your lbs to the offensive right.

By doing this tho, you've just exposed your defense to a slant pattern by the wr which should result in a 6-9 yard game as well.

If your a talented offensive player in this game, you almost unstoppable because of stuff like this.
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Old 11-24-2010, 02:26 PM   #6
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Quote:
Originally Posted by havokeff
Love defensive minded posts.

I have to say though, that the D in Madden, while not perfect, is pretty serviceable. I can shut down pretty much anyone I play against with the D that I run.

Also, while I agree with you whole heartedly on the lack of attention to detail when it comes to D in Madden, all the issues you mentioned, can be addressed with manual control, shifts and some of the pre snap alignment calls. Again, not perfect, but serviceable.

Personally, I enjoy it this way. There is nothing better than watching my opponents get pissed and say that I am cheating as I shift and slant right into their plays because I recognize their plays from formation. I take great pleasure in that.

I must not have made this clear. I'm referring to the Computer's defense against a human. As a human I can get into the look I want without a ton of difficulty, but I can't stop the computer from misaligning itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shttymcgee
Not to change the subject, but zone-blocking is still not implemented right and there really aren't true protection schemes present in the game.
There are a lot of styles of "zone" blocking. I think they are using covered/uncovered rules. NOt the style I would have picked, but, atleast it's consistant.

The protections leave something to be desired.

Quote:
The other thing about offense is while they are trying to implement some "concepts" that are prevalent among NFL offenses, route depths are often way off. This is primarily because the timing is off. The receivers do not cover as much ground as quickly as they should, leading to routes being programmed to break off at shallow depths, which causes major field-spacing issues.
I know what you mean on a few of the concepts (Levels is one that has some issues. Stick can also be tricky) but I've noticed that the route running attribute effects that as well. Like zone-blocking, things aren't perfect....but they do provide the right feel and a degree of simulation. Even if you have to fudge it a little to get it too work right.

Quote:
As for the defense, the number's matching is an issue, but like the other poster said, at least you can adjust, which is more realistic any way. Defenses must adjust their alignments to the offense's formation before every snap, although maybe the game should do it automatically.

I feel that another major problem for defense is the lack of true gap control. The game designers need to find a way to utilize true defensive assignments (Force, alley/plug, scrape and cutback responsiblilties) instead of just having the DL blow up attempted blocks.
Scrape and cutback have been alright. I think the new blocking kinda/sorta fixed LB play in some ways. The DB run support is brutal...and linebackers that still run away from the play at time (especially OLB in a zone).
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Old 11-24-2010, 03:52 PM   #7
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Sven excellent post. I just hope they can get some things down this year on the fundamentals side but also add more depth to the defensive playbooks. They are pretty bland. I hope they get alignment issues squared away and I hope they get the line stunts working with smooth turning/twisting by the defensive linemen and IF they can get linebackers to run twists and stunts with the DL that would be fantastic. I have a lot of stuff that I would like to contribute, but I don't want to feel like I'm wasting my time.
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Old 11-24-2010, 05:41 PM   #8
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Re: Fixing Defense (or, a Lesson in the Principle of Less is More).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sven Draconian
I must not have made this clear. I'm referring to the Computer's defense against a human. As a human I can get into the look I want without a ton of difficulty, but I can't stop the computer from misaligning itself.



There are a lot of styles of "zone" blocking. I think they are using covered/uncovered rules. NOt the style I would have picked, but, atleast it's consistant.

The protections leave something to be desired.



I know what you mean on a few of the concepts (Levels is one that has some issues. Stick can also be tricky) but I've noticed that the route running attribute effects that as well. Like zone-blocking, things aren't perfect....but they do provide the right feel and a degree of simulation. Even if you have to fudge it a little to get it too work right.



Scrape and cutback have been alright. I think the new blocking kinda/sorta fixed LB play in some ways. The DB run support is brutal...and linebackers that still run away from the play at time (especially OLB in a zone).
While the actual "assignment" part of the blocking may be right (most NFL teams that run true zone, not pin and pull use covered-uncovered with a counting method), its implementation is bad. There is not nearly enough lateral movement occuring, especially after contact. Not to mention that there is no difference between inside and outside zone runs in the game other than aiming point.

Cutback is not okay. For example who should have cutback in a quarters defense? The backside safety. That never happens, and its not just in quarters defenses. While scrape responsibilities may appear okay, I don't really think that they are, everyone just tries to take an outside angle to the ball carrier.
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