Fortress - 3 Deep

3 Deep is a dual purpose goal line/short yardage play. Around the goal line it's best utilized when the offense needs to gain about 3-5 yards, making pass or run both possible options. Five defensive line run stoppers and all three linebackers playing man make 3 Deep adequate against goal line power running plays, while the man coverage combines with all three defensive backs playing zone to protect against standard or play action passes. In the open field this play is a nice call on 3rd and very short. The bulk of the D-line makes it tougher to run against than most base 4-3 or 3-4 defenses, while the 3 deep zone provides a safety net against any surprise passing plays the offense may try to throw at you.

Situations where 3 Deep probably should not be called are very short yardage goal line situations. All man or zone coverage behind the D-line makes the play a little soft to stand up to pure power rushing when the offense only wants a yard or two. You might think that it would fare well against outside runs, but even here it is mediocre (still talking goal line situations). The lack of push up front lets lead blockers get around the corner and in positions where they can trap the cornerback to the inside. Now, these observations shouldn't discourage you from making use of 3 Deep, just use it in slightly longer yardage or pass likely situations like it was designed for and you'll be fine.

Player Assignments

Position Action
D-Line Base
MLB Man WR3 or Deepest
CBs and SS Deep Zone

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




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