4-3 Stagger - Jam Middle

While the unusual front seven deployment of 4-3 Stagger is very good at chasing down runners to the linebacker heavy side (i.e. the offense's left side), the large gap between the right defensive end and the nose tackle leaves the formation vulnerable to dive runs to either side of the left guard. Shifting the defensive line into a more traditional set before the play starts is one way of dealing with this issue, but because 4-3 Stagger plays are designed with this gap in mind shifts may reduce the effectiveness of the blitzers attacking other areas. I developed Jam Middle as a solution to the gap weakness that doesn't rely on defensive shifts, and while not a complete solution it has become my favorite base defensive play for defending the run.

Besides being good at stuffing or at least limiting running plays up the middle, Jam Middle is also good at chasing down runs to the defense's right side. On the other hand its pass defense ability is adequate but hardly dominant. The two non-blitzing linebackers were put in man coverage to better attack the run but leave the defense vulnerable to crossing routes by wide receivers because they can be drawn away from their initial positions, meaning there are no guarantees that anyone will be in coverage over the short middle. These linebackers are pretty good at running down receivers in the flats or off of swing passes, but with man coverage on the corners as well there are no assurances that help will be available here either.

One more thing about Jam Middle: although it provides good run defense up the middle, it is not a complete solution. Blitzing a linebacker into the gap is good but can't compare with having a big ol' 300-plus pound defensive tackle already sitting there. An offense that only needs one or two yards can attack the gap and expect to get this much, though probably not a lot more, unless additional measures are taken. The lesson is use a base Jam Middle on 1st and 10 or similar situations, but tighten up the D-line when used on 3rd and 1.

Player Assignments

Position Action
RE Blitz Left
Line DT Blitz Middle
Staggered DT Blitz Middle
LE Blitz Middle
ROLB Blitz Left
Right CB (CB #2) Man WR2
Left CB (CB #1) Man WR1
SS and FS Deep Zone

See the Madden Playbook Guide for a description of these symbols.




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