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Essential Pass Game Changes

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Old 12-02-2010, 07:15 PM   #1
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Essential Pass Game Changes

Even though the pass-game concepts have been improved considerably, there are some things that need to be addressed in order to make the game a better representation of actual football.



First is pass protection. A good passing game starts with good pass protection and progressess to good pass pro schemes, one's that meld perfectly with the pass concept itself. Right now, Madden does neither very well, pass protection techniques are not executed properly and the schemes (if there are specific one's) don't seem to match with the pass concept very well. For this post, I would like to talk about the different pass pro schemes that should be used, and why it's important to use multiple schemes.



There are basically 3 different forms of dropback protection in modern football, each with mutiple common ideas on techniques to execute those schemes: BOB, Turnback, and Gap.



In this post, I would like to discuss BOB pro, which seems to be the protection most commonly used in the game, means that the OL will block the DL and if there is an uncovered lineman, he will block a LB. Any RB involved in the protection would be resonsible for blocking 2nd level defenders from a most dangerous, to least dangerous progression. In the example below,



..........................W.......M........S...... ..SS................
.........................E......N......T....E..... ...................
...........................O..O..C..O..O..Y....... ..............
...................................Q.............. ..................
.............................R............F....... ...................



you can see that there are 4 DL for the OL to account for, so that means that they can also take care of a LB, the M would be common for a bob protection team. If the TE and both backs stayed in, all 8 defenders could be accounted for. Most teams would make the R accountable for the WLB to any secondary blitzer (a dual-read) and put the F on the SLB to any secondary blitzer if the TE releases. As you can see, the defense always has the ablilty to send more rushers than the offense can use to protect, the easiest example is if the TE and both backs all release, thus making the WLB, the SLB and the SS unblocked if they rush (commonly called "hot").



Most good passing systems utilize "check-down" routes by assigned protectors, who if their blocking assignment doesn't rush, will run a pre-determined underneath route. This is the first place where Madden is lacking. It doesn't seem to me that the RB's actually have an assigned defender to be responsible for. I don't know when they are going to release on a delayed route and when they are going to stay. Also, there are too many plays in which the RB's will not release, even if 2nd level defenders do not rush. This is a poor strategy in football, because why would you want to keep protectors in to block "air" (I admit when facing some tough matchups, teams will sometimes keep backs in to help the OL, but this occurs only in rare occasions). You need to know what the RB's are accountable for and the RB's need to release if their assignments do not rush.



The second thing that's wrong is the assigned checkdown routes themselves. Checkdowns are designed as part of the entire pass concept and are meant to be used as such. The route ran by the RB should make sense and be used to put stress on specific defenders, to either pull them away from a specific area of the field, or to make them pay for not covering an underneath zone.



Let's use a very common concept at all levels, All Curl as an example. Using the diagram above, imagine a wide receiver split to each side. In this pass concept, all eligible receivers release and run underneath-routes, stretching the defense from sideline to sideline. The TE runs to a spot 6 yards over the center. Both REC run 12-15 yard curl patterns, attacking the defender over them vertically before stopping and showing their numbers back to the qb and coming towards the LOS (either back down their stem or directly toward the qb, depending on the philosopy of the coach), while both backs release and run flare-type routes. You can see how this stretches the underneath defenders, and if the defense gives the look seen in the diagram, the offense has 5 underneath receivers against 4 underneath defenders (if the 3 DB'S are playing deep zones).



So, how does that have anything to do the game? Because of the variations of the play. You could run the play from many different sets, let's use a 3x1 variation.



..........X......................O..O..C..O..O...Y ...............................
..........................................Q....... ......F.......................Z....
.................................................. .....................................
..........................................R....... ....................................



If you want the same concept here, but with a 6 man protection, there is really only 1 way to do it using a bob protection scheme. The Y still runs the hook route and the the 2 outside rec. still run the curl. The F now runs a flat instead of a swing, but the read is still the same. Now, here's where the important part comes in, what to do with the R? First, what side must he protect to? The left, although in the game he may block rt. What checkdown does he run? A swing or flat route to the left. This is an important part of good passing offenses, but it is left out in the game. It's needed if the game is going to be an accurate representation.
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Old 12-03-2010, 04:04 PM   #2
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Re: Essential Pass Game Changes

Good post as usual. Keep 'em coming!

You gonna talk about timing up routes with QB drops?
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Old 12-03-2010, 04:27 PM   #3
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Re: Essential Pass Game Changes

#1) Pass trajectory

The ball does not travel in a realistic arc in Madden. It is either a straight-line pass with no lift or the infamous "moon ball" that travels into the Earth's stratosphere.

This is why there are so many "superman leaps" from the LB position to swat down balls headed 10 to 15 yards behind their zones.

#2) Route-based passing

Still not in Madden. Madden forces you to throw the ball in relation to where the WR is, not where the route is going.

This is why you cannot ever throw the ball in Madden before the WR makes the cut in his route.

In Madden, when you attempt to throw before the cut, the WR ignores his route and continues running in his current direction.

Last edited by jyoung; 12-03-2010 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 12-03-2010, 05:48 PM   #4
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Re: Essential Pass Game Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palo20
Good post as usual. Keep 'em coming!

You gonna talk about timing up routes with QB drops?
Was going to write about turnback protection and when its more appropriate over bob schemes and how the actual RB checkdowns are used to determine which protection should be used, but timing is huge issue as well.

Timing, imo, is the biggest non-negotiable in establishing a successful passing game. The ball must be thrown in a place where the receiver is open and at the time when he is open. This is fact no matter what "style" of offense a team selects. Matching receiver depths and break points with the different drop depths and timing mechanisms of the quarterback is the predominant method of passing in the NFL and is apparent with all "pro-style" offenses today. (some other offenses; air raid, run and shoot, etc do not put as much emphasis on the timing aspect of the qb drop, instead it's on receivers reading the coverage and finding grass; although the timing of the pass is still important) It does no good if a receiver breaks open while a qb is continuing his drop and conversely, does no good if a qb is standing there waiting for a receiver to separate from the defender.

In order for a pass concept to be consistently effective, the qb's drop must be manipulated so that as he goes through his progression, receivers are finishing their breaks or coming open in a sequential manner. In other words, the secondary read should break or come open after the primary read. If the come open at the same time, the throw will be late to the secondary receiver if the primary one was taken away. One example of a specific play and how timing is a driving factor is of the WCO staple, Z Drive.

..........X.................O..O..C..O..O...Y..... ...................................
.....................................Q............ ..............................Z........
.................................................. .........................................
......................................B....C...... .......................................

The name of the play tells you who the primary receiver is, Z. He runs a shallow cross, replacing the heels of the DL and stair-stepping any wall technique LB's (often after motioning towards the LOS). The Y (TE) releases outside, pushes vertically to 12-15 yards, then cuts in (running away vs man-to-man or sitting vs zone. The near back runs a outside vertical route (normally a circle-type route from traditional teams, but you'll see later how the play has been tweaked in modern times). The X receiver runs a deep comeback (will convert to a flag variant vs a squat corner), the depth determined by how it times up with the QB's drop (normally at about 18 yards). The FB will protect strong, then run a check-down route outside the RT (to stay out of the way of Y, but remain a viable option).

Here's how timing comes into play, along with true progression. The primary receiver's necessary timing is what determines the drop depth. It will take the QB dropping 7 steps to allow the flanker the time to cross the formation and elude any "trash" in his way before he makes it to the left flat(which is where you want the ball caught). This needs to be an exact science for the play to work (or any for that matter). When the QB hits his 7th step, the ball is thrown to the flanker, if it's not thrown then the QB hitches.

Well, where does he look now after the hitch? The answer is it depends. Who can cover the flanker? The player in the weak flats or the ILB(s). If the player in the weak flat holds his ground and looks for the crosser (this is part one of the QB's read, he's also the guy that's left unblocked), then rt after the hitch, the QB throws the ball to the X (he's 1 on 1 with the corner or in the zone between the corner and the safety). If the ILB steps forward to rob or cut the crosser, the QB hitches and delivers the ball to the TE. The depth of those secondary routes is timed up with the hitch step of the QB.

What happens if after the hitch, the TE is covered? That's why you have a checkdown. After the hitch, the QB resets his feet and delivers the ball down to the back.

You might ask what about the deep route by the other back? 25 years ago, he was just a decoy, only getting the ball if the defense played certain man to man coverage looks, normally in a zero shell. Now, here's the way the play is run.

............X.......................O..O..C..O..O. ..Y................................
.............................................Q.... .....................Z.................W.
.................................................. ............................................
.............................................F.... ...........................................

Z still runs the shallow, the extra wide receiver runs a post or corner-post, something to the deep middle of the field. Now, if Y is jumped by a safety, then the QB can reset and work the deep route. However, the QB must stay on proper progression, if he doesn't, he will not be able to throw the ball to Z late.

How this relates to Madden is the fact that the route depths must properly space the field and match the qb's drop, which they currently do not always do. Also, there needs to be more variety in the drops themselves, 5 step to go along with the 7 step and quick step. And lastly, the user should be able to throw the ball at multiple times during the drop, without appearing arcadish. Basically, QB's can throw the ball almost directly after the snap (hot), at the end of the drop, or after a hitch step (or subsequent re-setting of the feet. Currently, I feel that the QB drops a little to fast (although its better than before), but receivers definitely do not cover ground as fast as they should, thus leading to routes that are run at the wrong depth and that don't space the field properly
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:42 PM   #5
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Re: Essential Pass Game Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palo20
Good post as usual. Keep 'em coming!

You gonna talk about timing up routes with QB drops?
QB drops are already timed up to routes and have been for years. I believe there are many players who simply aren't delivering the ball on time.

Having run a West Coast offense on Madden for a number of years, I can attest that many routes are timed to the QB drops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wEEman33
#1) Pass trajectory

The ball does not travel in a realistic arc in Madden. It is either a straight-line pass with no lift or the infamous "moon ball" that travels into the Earth's stratosphere.

This is why there are so many "superman leaps" from the LB position to swat down balls headed 10 to 15 yards behind their zones.

#2) Route-based passing

Still not in Madden. Madden forces you to throw the ball in relation to where the WR is, not where the route is going.

This is why you cannot ever throw the ball in Madden before the WR makes the cut in his route.

In Madden, when you attempt to throw before the cut, the WR ignores his route and continues running in his current direction.
Gotta chime in on #2. This is a common misconception among gamers who aren't 12-month Madden players. Last year I did a video series that I feel proves that passes in Madden can be delivered to the proper location on a receivers route when the ball is thrown before a receiver cuts. Not only has this part of the passing system been around for years, it is the most basic part of the passing system as it can be done with one finger on the controller...

Of course, the ball must be delivered on time and synced with the route the receiver is running. Most routes (Slants, Hooks, Hitch, Posts, Deep Outs, Deep Ins, etc...) are synced up so that throws on the QB's 3rd, 5th, or 7th step are delivered similar to route based delivery.

Regarding #1: There are several variations in pass trajectory that rely on the way the user activates the receiver's icon button. In addition to the moon ball and the rocket, there are several touch passes in between.

I'd be happy to repost the vid from last year since these portions of passing have not changed.

Later
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:20 PM   #6
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Re: Essential Pass Game Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNT713
QB drops are already timed up to routes and have been for years. I believe there are many players who simply aren't delivering the ball on time.

Having run a West Coast offense on Madden for a number of years, I can attest that many routes are timed to the QB drops.
No, QB drops are most certainly not timed up to the routes. There are some instances in which a drop may coorespond to 1 route being run, but very rarely are the complimentary routes being run at the proper depth.
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Old 12-05-2010, 10:40 PM   #7
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Re: Essential Pass Game Changes

The game really just needs to give you a realistic feel for being in the pocket. The general idea is after 3 Mississippi, you're probably toast in the NFL.. but it isn't reflected. Obviously the situation changes based on your protection scheme, their blitz or lack thereof, etc. I'd love to have a passing game be based on making reads and playing mismatches like it TRULY is.. instead of forcing passes to crossing receivers or trying for deep balls constantly.
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