One of the things that separate Madden players is the ability to read a defense both pre and post snap. Reading the defense pre-snap is a great tool to have an idea of the coverage on the field, but because Madden gives players the ability to base align the coverage can easily be disguised. So because of the ease to disguise coverage in Madden 19, it will be crucial to your success to read the defense post snap as well.
The first step towards identifying coverage will be to check the alignment of the safeties. If both safeties are equally spaced about 15 yards off the line of scrimmage this will give you a MOFO (Middle of Field Open) read which indicates that the coverage will be either 2 man under, cover 2 zone, or cover 4 zone. If one safety is deep in the middle of the field and the other safety is located in the box closer to the line of scrimmage, this is a MOFC (Middle of Field Closed) read. This read indicates that the defense is in either in cover 1 man, or cover 3 zone defense.
One exception to those pre-snap reads will be cover 0 defense, where it is man across without any deep safety help. This defense will present itself as a MOFO read, but if you look closely you will notice the safeties are generally wider than they are in a cover 2 or cover 4 defense and they are also slightly closer to the line. The tell is subtle, but it’s there. Another exception when reading the defense is the cover 6 and cover 9 zone defense and certain types of cover 3 like “Cover 3 Cloud”. Again these defenses will give you a MOFO read, but that is for the sole reason to trick you into a mistake.
So after reading through that part you are probably no better off than you started. Essentially I just told you that the play call could be anything because of the different variety of defenses that use a MOFO look, and the ability to base align a MOFC look into a MOFO look. Lots of help right?
This leads into the most important part of reading the defense, the post-snap read. At the snap of the ball you will want to look at two things. The first thing is the safeties. You are watching to see if there is any type of rotation or if they both drop and where they are dropping to. This read will give us the coverage shell of the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the safeties both drop back and outside, it is either a cover 2 zone or 2 man under defense. If one safety drops to the deep middle and the other rotates down toward the line of scrimmage, it is either a cover 1 man or cover 3 zone defense. If both safeties drop straight back but don’t move toward the outside at all, you are dealing with a cover 4 defense. Then finally, if one safety drops straight back on the hash mark and the other drops back and to the outside, your opponent has called some version of cover 6 or cover 9 defense. These defenses are a cover 4 on one side, and a cover 2 on the other. The side where the safety drops back and outside is the cover 2 side of the defense, the other side will be the cover 4 side.
The final step to identifying coverage to a degree of certainty is to find what I call a “coverage key”. Usually for me this is an outside corner back. If I have the coverage narrowed down to one of two shells, he will tell me exactly what coverage it is based on whether or not he is in man or zone.
It is still important to look before you throw however because a Madden player can make all kinds of wild adjustments to his defense. Just because you have identified the shell, does NOT mean you have identified what is going on underneath that shell. It will however give you an outstanding idea on what will cause his defense a great level of stress.
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