The least ‘exciting’, but arguably most important aspect of a football team. You can have Joe Montana under center, but if the guys stopping the defensive rush are made of duct-tape and silly putty, Montana’s in for a long, sod-filled day.
When it comes to Madden blocking, it’s decently solid. However, there have always been noticeable foibles and concerns and occasionally wonky happenings.
To address these concerns and update fans, EA Sports released a 1708 word treatise on the most under-appreciated aspect of American Football.
What did EA have to say? Read on for some highlights.
Ability to ID the Mic Linebacker
ID-ing the Mic linebacker is key to picking up a blitz and having enough time in the pocket to wing it to your check down or whomever is left open by the blitz. In previous Madden games you couldn’t single out the mic; contradicting that whole “It’s In The Game” game thing.
Madden 18 however, will let you ID the Mic:
How’s it work? If you think the nickel is blitzing and the middle linebacker is dropping into coverage, open-up the pass protection adjustments menu in pre-play using LB/L1, and hit the A/X button to ID the Mike. Then move the M icon with the LS or the D-Pad to the nickel who is showing blitz and lock it in with another A/X press. You’ve now set your protection to account for the most dangerous threats on the line of scrimmage, plus the defender you believe is rushing.
O Line Awareness
Awareness. Awareness is one of those stats that’s hard to quantify, but mean quite a lot. Awareness is responsible for how your players react on the fly to changing situations. In this case, Blitzes:
In Madden 18, the aggregate awareness of the whole O-line will now impact their ability to recognize and pick up blitzes. The higher the average awareness rating of the offensive line as a unit, the better they will be at recognizing and reacting to blitzes that come up over the course of a game, including the always tough zone blitz schemes our players like to create by dropping defensive linemen into coverage while bringing heat off the edge.
Small Package / Big Runs
In Ultimate Team, for whatever reason, I had a lot of luck running a nickel scheme to stop the run. I had a lot of my defenders up on the line, and they’d swarm the RB and tackle him. This was helpful, but not realistic; as realistically a 46 defense should be better equipped for such things, but seemed to have equal results:
In Madden 18, we’ve expanded our logic around defenses stopping the run when using sub defenses such as dime, dollar and quarter. If the offense is in a run formation and running a hard-ball, downhill run play against a defense with very few defenders or a lot of defensive backs in the tackle box, the defense will have a very hard time stopping the running play. In many cases a lot of the defenders will end up getting pancaked. This also applies to the “Pass Commit” adjustment vs. a running formation and when dropping defensive linemen into coverage against a running formation.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You’re in the shotgun, set your RB to run block, and in zooms a CB from the edge who isn’t even courteous enough to breath on your RB before tackling you to the ground.
The logic for pass blocking running backs has been updated to expand their ability to scan across the entire formation as well as keeping them in the backfield longer so they will be less likely to attack targets at the line of scrimmage, giving them more time to react to more dangerous threats as they appear…RB’s will be able to block unblocked players on either side of the formation…Adjusted tuning to cut-blocking and block sheds, with a heavy emphasis on the ratings match-up between the two players.
That’s just a few of the highlights. Be sure to swing on over to the Madden Blog for all of the salient, complicated, juicy, insanely nerdy details.
Madden 18 comes out August 25th for those who can’t afford the GOAT edition, the 22nd for those who can, and the Friday before if you happen to have EA Access and can ween a 10 hour trial over a weekend.