Perhaps no play in the Monstrous Madden Playbook has gone through more overhauls before release than X Waggle. Originally designed as a straight up passing play, I tried a few different modifications with each falling just a bit short of what I wanted for release quality. With Madden 2006 I bit the bullet and made a version based on the PA Waggle play which comes in many (maybe all) playbooks containing the formation Singleback-Trips Bunch (including Arizona and Minnesota in Madden 2006). I think the result is worth it, as this play offers big opportunities to shock defenses for big gains.

Axe - X Waggle

Though initially designed with the middle curl as the centerpiece of the play, the TE corner has emerged as the most productive route. The timing between the TE's break and the play action fake is such that this pass can be executed with the QB transitioning from play fake to bootleg to throw in what feels like a single, silky smooth motion. If the defenders bite on the run fake this should open up the middle for the curl route, and the skinny post provides opportunities for some home runs if the coverage of an aggressive defense really breaks down.

The biggest weakness of the play is pass protection. Any defender not fooled by the play fake will be able to make a bee line for the QB, possibly ringing up a sack before the QB is even able to turn and look downfield. To mitigate this risk it is important to set up the play action fake with some running plays, particularly weak side runs, to set up the waggle. This should get the defense shifting to the weak side (or at least not ignoring it) and give the QB some breathing room. Waggle Decoy (described below) is provided as a simple weak side running option to setup the X Waggle. Use of motion, especially with the flanker assigned to block, can help distract the defense and help sell the run fake. One more helpful feature in Madden 2006 is the ability to shift the protection before the snap. I always shift the protection to the right unless the defense shows weak side overload before the snap.

Player Assignments

This is the first play I've released based on a built in play, so you'll have to build (or rebuild) the Axe formation from Singleback-Trips Bunch and include the PA Waggle play to modify into X Waggle (see the Monstrous Madden Playbook Guide for details on how to make specialty plays like X Waggle).

Make sure that when you modify PA Waggle to create X Waggle that you leave the QB and RB assignments alone. Once these special fake handoff and bootleg actions are altered there's no getting them back and you will have to make the Axe formation all over again.

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB PA Bootleg Right
Left SE N4-N5E3 (open)
RB PA Block Left
TE 5yd Corner
Right Flanker Pass Block
Right SE N3W2 (curl left)

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

Read Progression

  1. TE corner
  2. Right SE curl
  3. Left SE post

With the play fake taking away precious seconds of pass protection only three patterns have been built into X Waggle to ensure an easy read and quick delivery. Even so the QB risks a sack if the defense isn't fooled, but those are the risks that come with big play potential. Immediately after the fake the QB is in perfect position to hit the TE just after he breaks to the corner. This first read is the most reliable in the play, and while effective against most general types of defense it seems to be best at slipping under zones or behind bump-and-run CBs in Cover 2. The QB might have a DE right in his face so be prepared to throw the ball immediately on the bootleg.

Next scan left to the SE curl. This route is excellent against man coverage where the defender will turn and run to cover deep but is dangerous against most zones, though sometimes it can be left wide open. The drawback of this route is that sometimes the WR will run back to get the ball, reducing a 10+ yard gain to as little as a 5 yard gain. The last route is the skinny post. This can be a difficult read because of the limited time the protection will hold and the later break in the route, but taking a peek at the FS just after the snap will often give a clue as to whether this route will draw additional coverage deep. If you see the FS bite on the run or come on a blitz it might be a good time to go for it all on the deep post.




Waggle Decoy

X Waggle wouldn't be much of a play without a single left side run in the formation, and HB Blast wasn't really designed with the Playmaker in mind. To fix this deficiency I've included a new running play, Waggle Decoy, as a supplement to X Waggle. Waggle Decoy isn't much of a running play as specified, and in fact there is a strong chance that the RB will be dropped for a loss by a fast DE rush around left tackle if run naively. Fortunately, a combination of the Playmaker and motions by the TE or flanker provide just enough versatility to make Waggle Decoy into a decent setup for X Waggle, as well as a serviceable running play in its own right.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line, TE and WRs Run Block
QB Handoff to RB
RB Shuffle Step - Sprint Left

Blocking Assessment

Because a run directly off left end is likely to be stuffed, motioning the flanker or TE left is a good way to bolster the blocking as well as sell the ability to run to the weak side. With the TE you may need to wait for the players to get set (the flanker will shift out farther right in a two player motion when Axe is derived from Singleback-Trips Bunch), but with the flanker it's good to use his momentum to drive into the DE so snap the ball just as he passes behind the left tackle. In case the defense has already shifted the weak side (perhaps in hopes of generating a strong pass rush) a simple Playmaker to the strong side run should be enough, though added motion can still serve nicely as misdirection.

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