4-3 Stagger is my base defensive formation. In Madden 2003 my base formation was the very fast Speed Quarter (coming soon) which was able to stand up to the run mainly by blitzing the slot cornerbacks. Now that Madden 2004 features more realistic run blocking such an undersized defense cannot stand up to a power rushing attack, this (in some ways) more traditionally balanced formation has become my staple.


From the looks of it 4-3 Stagger seems oddly balanced, very strong at a few points, such as the left side (from the offense's perspective) and the right guard position, but soft at left guard and off right tackle. These apparent deficiencies are compensated for by multiple line stunts and linebacker blitz packages which attack at a variety of points, and by using defensive line and linebacker shifts anytime the offense looks like it's about to attack a weakness.

Other than having the linebackers shifted to one side and the line bunched at the other end, the defenders are deployed in their traditional positions, with the defensive backfield resembling most base formations. The only other variance is the offset defensive tackle, who will move up to the line of scrimmage if the line is shifted (as long as he was originally on the line in the formation you modify to make 4-3 Stagger). 4-3 Stagger is well suited to defend against most base offensive packages.


4-3 Stagger - Zone Blitz

Zone Blitz

A zone blitz is a nice play for creating confusion in an offense. Here most of the pressure is created by the linebackers while the defensive ends slide out to defend the flats against short passes or runs to the outside.

4-3 Stagger - Spread Zone

Spread Zone

Spread Zone blankets the field with a variety of zone defenses to protect against the pass, as well as runs to the outside. While not dominant in any particular aspect of defense, Spread Zone is steady and won't give up many of the plays that can lose games.

4-3 Stagger - Jam Middle

Jam Middle

The gap in the defensive line of 4-3 Stagger just off left guard may seem like a tempting target for the opposing offense. If the offense takes the bait, Jam Middle may show them that 4-3 Stagger isn't willing to be pushed around.

Contact Arkaein with any comments or questions regarding the Monstrous Madden Playbook.