The 4-3 defense is not what many consider “sexy”, but its longevity as a base defense is because it has been effective. The 4-3 is still prevalent in the playbooks in Madden 22, and this article will look at the best 4-3 defenses in the game.
All teams will be listed in alphabetical order with corresponding plays showcased.
1. Buffalo Bills (AFC East)
- Cover 1 Contain (4-3, Wide 9)
- Strong Slant 3 2 (4-3, Over)
- Cover 3 Buzz Press (4-3, Over Plus)
A chic pick for the Super Bowl, Buffalo has a strong defense based in the 4-3.
Cover 1 Contain keeps the free safety in a deep zone while the four linemen rush. The middle linebacker is the spy, ideal for when playing against running/scrambling quarterbacks or players who like to run with their QBs. The remaining players are in man coverage. The spy, if the QB stays in the pocket, basically functions as zone defender over the middle.
Strong Slant 3 2 is a zone blitz that sends the over LB on a blitz and one of the MLB on a circuitous route around the left side of the defensive line on a blitz. The left defensive end drops back into zone coverage, and while the flat is not covered, the medium-to-big yardage plays should be minimized.
Cover 3 is a typical zone coverage sending the four linemen only. The coverage does a good job covering the short, middle, and long passes, but is susceptible to the sideline throw between the flat and deep zone. Still, this would be a good 3rd and long play.
2. Cleveland Browns (AFC North)
- Will 2 Fire (4-3, Normal)
- Saw O Blast (4-3, Over Plus)
- Cover 2 Invert (4-3, Wide 9)
Another chic pick, Cleveland has a good defense led by Myles Garrett and the highlight-making Jadeveon Clowney.
Cover 2 Invert is a unique play out of the Wide 9 set with the front seven spaced out wide. Both DEs drop back in zone coverage, each taking a third of the field in the middle, as both outside linebackers blitz in return. The safeties run down to cover the flats while the corners drop into the deep zones. Watch the sidelines, but this should be a good 3rd and long play.
Will 2 Fire is a zone blitz that sends the Will LB on a blitz while dropping the other two LBs into coverage over the middle. The two CBs man the flats while the safeties stay over top. It should be good against the short pass and have enough people at the second level to prevent any big runs.
Saw O Blast sends both LBs from the middle through the gaps between the linemen while the remaining LB joins the defensive backs in man coverage. The added pressure should help reach the QB before he can pull off a big throw, but being man, make sure that you do not get beaten over the top.
3. Kansas City (AFC West)
- Sam Will Blitz (4-3, Even 6-1)
- Cover 3 Sky Wk (4-3, Over Plus)
- Will Go Fire 3 (4-3, Under)
While the offense gets most of the attention – and rightly so – the defense in Kansas City deserves credit for their success over the past few years as well.
Sam Will Blitz out of the Even 6-1 is interesting with only the MLB in the middle and the two OLBs on the line. Both the Sam and Will LBs blitz, hopefully funneling the QB to the other. The remaining five players remain in man defense. This should be a good play for short passing situations.
Cover 3 Sky Wk makes use of the Sam LB by dropping him to cover the flat; the other two LBs man the middle zones. The FS drops into the other flat, while the remaining three cover the deep zones. This would be an ideal play for any long yardage situation.
Will Go Fire 3 is a zone blitz that sends the Mike through the gap. The Sam drops into zone along the sideline, the Mike drops into the middle, and the DBs cover the opposite sideline and deep zones. On 3rd and 10+ this could be a play called to force a short pass and ensure you hold on defense.
4. New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
- Tampa 2 (4-3, Wide 9)
- Mike Sam 2 Buzz (4-3, Over Plus)
- Cover 1 Slant Crash (4-3, Under)
While not known for having the best of defenses over the past 15 years, New Orleans is listed simply because the playbook has the most 4-3 sets in the game.
Being out of the Wide 9, this Tampa 2 seemingly covers as much field as possible. The sideline throw must be perfect, but unlikely to be caught if it is slightly imperfect. The deep ball is covered even if one safety is looked off, and with both DBs covering the flat, it is unlikely any short passes will amount to much of a gain.
Mike Sam 2 Buzz sends the Sam on the over shift while dropping the other LBs into the middle zone. The sideline is still susceptible, but the flat and deep zones are covered. Anything over the middle should be batted away by either of the LBs in coverage.
Cover 1 Slant Crash sends the Sam on a blitz while the other two LBs play man. The FS drops into a deep zone on the Cover 1 with the remaining players in man. As long as the FS maintains discipline and integrity, the deep ball should be moot.
5. Seattle Seahawks (NFC West)
- Cover 1 MLB Blitz (4-3, Even 6-1)
- Cover 2 Hard Flat (4-3, Over Plus)
- Edge Stung (4-3, Under)
Under Pete Carroll, Seattle has generally had a good defense, even after the heyday of the Legion of Boom.
Cover 1 MLB Blitz sends the lone MLB on a blitz with the FS in the Cover 1. The two OLB on the line drop into man coverage with the rest of the DBs. Though not as wide as the Wide 9 set, the sheer number of people at the line make this play ideal for stopping the run.
Cover 2 Hard Flat is a pretty standard Cover 2 that ensures the flat, middle, and deep zones are covered along with a typical four-man rush on the line. The LBs should be able to cut the middle into thirds and prevent the medium gain to the sideline, but watch out for a QB dropping one in the area between the LBs and safeties.
Edge Sting sends the Sam and Will (on the under) along with the four-man rush on the line with the remaining LB in man. The DBs are also all playing man. This is a play that takes advantage of the speed and lateral quickness of Seattle’s DBs as they play man, so keep that in mind with your roster.
The 4-3 has enjoyed lots of staying power, even with its weaknesses. Using these playbooks in Madden 22, if you prefer the 4-3, should help you to put on a defensive clinic.
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