Madden 21: Offensive Tips to Break Down Defenses Across All Modes

For all-time domination on the gridiron, you’ll need every weapon in your offensive arsenal.


There’s a saying in football that “defense wins championships,” but you don’t need to be Einstein to know that you need to put up points to win games.

Whether it be on the ground or through the air, there are so many dimensions to a successful offense and so many tools at your disposal to unlock defenses across the league


Here are several pointers that should help you to move the chains and keep the opposing defense on the field.

Know your offense and offensive weapons

It should be an obvious starting point, but it definitely needs to be reiterated that your biggest threats play best when played in the right way.

There isn’t any point in trying to use a 43-year-old Tom Brady as a mobile quarterback looking to make plays with his legs.

Your first port of call is your roster screen, on which, you can get to work identifying key players on your offense. 

Having found them, you need to explore how they can be best used and if any members of your squad are X-factor players.

The X-factors are blessed with heightened attributes and special abilities once you complete objectives tailored to that particular player.

After identifying your X-factor players, working out how to get them ‘in the zone’ can truly make the most of their abilities. In games, these players are ready to explode when their X-Factor icon flashes orange.

Money plays are your friend

While we have identified many money plays to utilize on offense, there are certainly players who favor certain types of plays, so personal preference is key here.

Quite simply, if things aren’t broken, don’t try to fix them. If slants and mesh plays open up the field for you, you can bank on them for six-to-ten yards on every play, which will keep your offensive drive moving.

It’s crucial to be aware of every route that your receivers are running, so double check your players’ assignments with L2/LT before you snap the ball to avoid a breakdown in communication.

Don’t get too predictable

While there is no harm in running the same go-to plays to a point where they are well-rehearsed, a feature in Madden 21 has improved the intelligence of computer-controlled players when determining plays on defense to counter your exploits.

With this in mind, and when playing craftier players online, it’s important not to get too predictable. Make sure that you mix up your offense with a good balance of rushing and passing plays to continually ask questions of the opposing defense.

Learn the new run mechanics to master the ground game

Consistent yards on the ground not only opens up the field for the pass, but the run is also a safer play that takes interceptions and big hits on the quarterback out of the equation.

The Madden 21 run game has been tweaked slightly with new animations, putting more importance on the left directional shift after moves with the right stick.

Fake-out defenders with a range of jukes and the new dead-leg move (down on the right stick), and explode out of your cut with the left stick into the space you want to move into.

Powerful truck moves (up on the right stick) are more effective when deployed by bigger backs, but smaller backs could barrel over wiry defensive backs in the open field.

Similar to the points above, it’s crucial to identify if your back relies more on their power and trucking ability (think of Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb), or their agility to slide through opposing defenses (a la Christian McCaffrey).

Some running backs, like the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliot, are able to exploit both power and agile moves. 

Outside runs and jet sweeps

While this point is dependent on the speed and agility of your running back, the tackling mechanics and the game’s engine are not conducive to up-the-middle running.

Runs to the outside tend to have more success, with the space to make the most of the range in ball carrier moves at your disposal.

Jet sweeps almost always employ your wide receiver, and as they’re some of the fastest humans on the planet, you may not need a juke move at all to race through holes in the defense. There are almost free yards to pick up on the outside, especially if the defense shows interior blitzes.

Run through your passing progressions

While the pressure will come from the defense bearing down on your quarterback, it is important to allow your receivers to complete the final cut in their routes to be aware of the pass and to spread the field.

All plays have a primary target, which is usually the red route when calling the play, with the other routes in place to open things up.

A key point to consider here is to check the pass blocking stats of your offensive linemen.

While your offensive weapons steal the headlines, the work of your men in the trenches is crucial to your offensive success. So, make sure that you beef-up on that front if you feel like you don’t have enough time to run your pocket-passing offense.

Have an understanding of defensive schemes and pivot if needed 

Identifying what your opponent is trying to do on defense should determine your plans on almost every play.

To work on breaking down defenses, enter the skills trainer via the exhibition mode and practice against different coverages.

Cover 2 can best be exploited with deep throws to the middle, with long bombs along the sidelines ideal against Cover 1.

The skills trainer will help you to identify defensive tendencies and allow you to practice against blitzing defenses. It’s an old adage, but practice makes perfect when running offensive plays.

If you don’t like your play call against the defense that your opponents are showing, you can call an audible to pivot to a different play by hitting Square on PS4 or X on Xbox One.

Understanding what the defense is trying to do on a play-by-play basis allows you to identify holes and areas that you can exploit.

Consider keeping the same playbook that your team uses

Most NFL playbooks, if not all of them, are tailor-made for the quarterback playing under center.

The playbook of the Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson, for example, contains several plays to make the most of his extra-dimension rushing ability. In contrast, the playbook of the Colts, with Philip Rivers under center, will contain sets for max pass protection and pocket passing.

When signing new quarterbacks in your franchise, ensure that your players’ skill sets match that of the plays being run. 

Use these Madden 21 offensive tips to refine your attack and dominate even the stingiest of NFL defenses.


Daniel Beswick

When Daniel isn't trying to find the best sports gaming simulator ever made, he is looking at stats for Fox Sports Australia, contributing, to the Emerging Cricket movement, or on twitter @DGBeswick1.

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