Edge Nickel - 3 Deep Close

3 Deep Close is my favorite all-purpose play in the Edge Nickel formation. Belying the deep pass vulnerable look of the formation this play matches man coverage on the outside receivers with deep zone coverage by all three safeties, nearly ensuring double coverage on any pass thrown deep, whether a streak down the sidelines or a post over the middle. With linebackers also in man coverage only one eligible receiver will go uncovered, usually out of the backfield, and the nine men in the box (even if slightly undersized) will make running plays tough going for the offense.

Besides being tough against deep passes, 3 Deep Close is good about not giving up big plays in general with its three deep zone defenders, as long as players are disciplined. The biggest danger may be that a running play will start inside, drawing the deep safeties up close and to the inside, then be able to bounce to the outside. Once the safeties are drawn up and in a run to the outside can become a footrace to the endzone. Taking manual control of one of the safeties and spying the RB while keeping a bit of depth to maneuver with is a good defense against this kind of breakdown.

Other things to watch out for are underneath crossing patterns, multiple receiver sets, and quarterback scrambles. No defenders play underneath zones so crossing patterns designed to run away from man coverage can be effective, especially if the other routes go deep to occupy the safeties. 3 and 4 wide receiver sets can be effective by matching speedy WRs against linebackers in coverage. Nimble QBs can cause problems if the coverage is run off deep, again because of the lack of underneath zone coverage, as well as the limited pressure generated by only rushing the four defensive linemen.

Player Assignments

Position Action
D-Line Base
Right Outside CB (CB #2) Man WR2
Left CB (CB #1) Man WR1
Right Slot CB, FS and SS Deep Zone

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




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