I turned 31 this year and for over 2/3rds of my life one of my favorite days of the year is Madden day. This year, the game is officially released today (August 20). As an EA Play subscriber, I’ve had the chance to put in ten hours of play over the past week. Here’s a collection of my Green Bay Packers Madden strategy tips to make the game as realistic as possible and win as many games as you can.
I don’t play online much and don’t do Madden Ultimate Team at all, so this guide will be for Franchise players.
Here are the things I do with offensive play calling to try to simulate the real life Packers. Some of these may not be perfect Madden strategy, but they are closer to what the team will do in real life.
- Be diverse in what playbooks you use each week. The 49ers, Rams, Titans, Falcons, Browns, Jets, Bengals, Panthers, and Vikings all have offensive playbooks with similar roots as the Packers. You could choose any of these to get more variety in offensive play calling.
- Most Shanahan tree teams base run offense out of the wide zone (called wide zone, outside zone, and stretch in Madden). The Packers do a fair amount of this, but most of their success on running comes from inside zone and duo. Especially shotgun inside zone with Aaron Jones. Run a lot of those two plays on first down early in games to set up play action later in the game
- Some Shanahan teams (mainly the 49ers and Browns) have varied their run attacks to include a lot more power and trap blocking schemes to counter defenses playing six guys on the LOS to stop the wide zone plays. Green Bay has focused more energy on jet motions, orbit motions, and inside running.
- The Packers ran the second most RPOs in the league last year. Packers QB coach Luke Getsy was Offensive Coordinator for Mississippi State under head coach Joe Moorhead in 2018. Moorhead is widely known as an RPO guru. Panthers’ offensive coordinator Joe Brady was a graduate assistant for two years at Penn State when Moorhead was the offensive coordinator. If you want to run a ton of RPOs for a game, use the Panthers playbook.
- The pass plays the Packers run the most are: mesh, 4 verticals, stick, slant/flats, dagger, flood, sail, and all the play action boot calls. The Packers love the 4 vertical variant where a slot receiver comes in jet motion out to the flat and the running back runs a wheel route as one of the four vertical routes. These pass plays can be run out of any formation. If you set three of them and an RPO as audibles, you can read the defensive scheme and run whatever a beater for whatever coverage they’re in.
We don’t know much about Joe Barry’s defense just yet. Barry comes from three distinct coaching trees: Tony Dungy, Wade Phillips, and Vic Fangio (via Brandon Staley). He will reportedly be sticking to more of a Vic Fangio scheme but don’t be surprised if he splashes in some Wade Phillips type blitzes and bear fronts and some Tampa 2. Here are my tips:
- Use the Packers, Rams or Chargers playbooks. As the season goes on, pay attention to what formations the Packers are in the most. It’s definitely possible there are other teams with better playbooks for accuracy. Especially if Green Bay is in Mint fronts a lot like the Rams were last year.
- Match personnel with the offense. If the offense is in a 2 wide receiver package, play 3-4. If it’s in a 3 wide receiver package, play nickel. If it’s in a 4 wide receiver package, play dime.
- You’ll probably be in nickel most of the time. Switch up which formation you’re in based on what the other offense is trying to do. Use the 2-4 if they’re passing a lot, 3-3 if they’re running a lot, and 2-3-6 dime if they’re targeting tight ends in the pass game constantly.
- Play Cover-4/Quarters and Cover-6 on first down. Play cover-3 on obvious run downs. Throw in some cover-1 robber. Use double-A gap blitzes on third and long.
- When you run man coverage, match up Jaire Alexander with the other team’s number one wide receiver.
- Up until last weekend, I expected to run blitzes only on third and long, but the Packers had the fifth highest blitz rate in the league in the first preseason game. Stay tuned on blitz strategy. A combination of Vic Fangio coverage and philosophy with Wade Phillips blitzing could be interesting.
Feel free to skip this section, especially if you’re sticking with online play. In Franchise play, I spend a lot of time each season working on formation subs and the depth chart to make it more accurate and keep players from getting fatigued.
- Make the starting down linemen Kenny Clark, TJ Slaton, and Dean Lowry. Make the starting interior rushers Clark and Kingsley Keke. Starting slot should be Chandon Sullivan, sub LBs should be Kris Barnes and De’Vondre Campbell with Adrian Amos as the Dime linebacker.
- Use formation subs to move Za’Darius Smith around the formation. I change his position from outside linebacker to defensive end so that he can play inside.
- Make sure every defensive linemen and outside linebacker is off the field in at least a few formations.
- I like to make Darnell Savage the slot corner in one of the nickel packages and use him to blitz or cover tight ends.
- If you really want to get frisky, make your dime linebackers Oren Burks and Adrian Amos. Burks hasn’t shown much on defense so far in his career, but he played well in the first preseason game. He was an edge rusher and safety in college so if he plays up to his potential, he’s a perfect Joe Thomas type linebacker.
- I make AJ Dillon the starting running back and Aaron Jones the 3rd down back. If you play a lot of shotgun, Jones will still get the majority of touches.
- Find which formations have jet sweeps in them and sub Amari Rodgers in as the slot.
- The toughest decision is what to do with Allen Lazard and MVS. Lazard’s strengths are all things that matter far more in real life than in Madden. You could make Lazard the number 2 wide receiver and sub MVS into the formations with the most deep shots and play action plays. So, on the depth chart the top four wide receivers would be Davante Adams, Lazard, MVS, Funchess. Stick Cobb and Amari Rodgers last because they should be slot only.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.