Gone are the old days of running the ball 30 to 40 times a game with less than 20 passing attempts. Some teams throw the ball 50 times a game, and rule changes that protect wide receivers and quarterbacks have made it easier to be successful with the aerial assault. This has made the emphasis on having a strong defensive backfield almost as important as the skill positions on offense.
Madden 23 has defensive Superstar X-Factor abilities to help enhance your defensive backs and close the gap on the advantage that passing offenses now have. These are great counters for any quarterback Superstar X-Factors you may encounter. Read below for the best Superstar X-Factors for defensive backs in Madden 23.
1. Zone Hawk
Zone defenses are very effective against an offense that doesn’t spread the ball around much and typically calls the same routes to only a few parts of the field. If they like to throw long passes down the sideline, Cover 2 will shut that down. Cover 1 is very effective mid-field and Cover 3 covers the entire field, especially deep zones.
The Zone Hawk X-Factor increases the number of interceptions in zone coverage. A very effective way of using it is against flat zones. Some opponents love to send running backs and tight ends into the flats to catch your defense off guard, but if you use the Zone Hawk X-Factor alongside press coverage, this will lead to a much higher interception rate. The ability is triggered by two forced incompletions and is disabled after allowing the offense 30 yards.
Offensive coordinators have become extremely creative with receiver routes over the past 20 years. Wide receivers these days are also much quicker and more agile than in the past. Even the best defensive backs will have trouble locking down a player entirely. At some point, a receiver will get open if given enough time.
The Bottleneck X-Factor gives you the ability to dominantly win man-press attempts. When in the zone with this ability, your player will ride the hip of the receiver for the entirety of the route. This can lead to easy interceptions and is best when assigned to cornerbacks. This ability is triggered by two incompletions and is lost after allowing the offense 30 yards.
Safeties and linebackers have some shared responsibility in order for things to run smoothly. Safeties are the last line of defense on runs and also the backup for cornerbacks on deep passes. Linebackers support the defensive line and help in coverage mostly against running backs and tight ends.
The Reinforcement X-Factor gives you a higher chance to defeat run blocks and disrupt catches. It is most effective when assigned to linebackers and safeties as both positions have a role in those areas. Having a strong coverage cornerback alongside a safety or linebacker with this ability can shut down your opponent’s passing game completely. Reinforcement is triggered by two tackles for loss or two incompletions and is lost after allowing 10 yards.
The Hit Stick was introduced in Madden NFL 2005. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move that allows a defensive player to deliver a brutal tackle on a ball carrier with a higher chance of forcing fumbles. The only downside to the move is when you miss, you miss. It requires more precision than the normal AI-assisted tackles and the momentum from the attempt can cause you to stumble and allow huge gains.
The Avalanche X-Factor is a great ability for linebackers and safeties. It guarantees a forced fumble when performing a hit stick while running towards the line of scrimmage. Both positions are anywhere from three to 15 yards from the line, which gives them the most opportunities to make tackles downhill. Avalanche requires three hit stick tackles to be activated and is deactivated after allowing the offense 20 yards.
The best way to defend against the passing game is to completely lock down a receiver on both sides of the field to the point that the quarterback will no longer target them. Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis are arguably the greatest cornerbacks of all time and were known to completely erase the best receivers from an offensive coordinator’s game plan.
The Shutdown X-Factor provides tighter coverage and a higher chance of interceptions on contested catches. If you have a player in the zone after forcing two incompletions, make sure you assign them to the biggest passing threats to maximize the ability. It is deactivated after allowing 30 offensive yards.
These are the best abilities that are offered in Madden 23 to enhance your secondary including, your linebackers. Although linebackers aren’t traditionally included in the secondary, the way the game is played now, they share much more responsibility in pass defense. Assign X-Factors to a defender based on the role they have in your game plan as well as the player’s strengths and weaknesses.
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