If your offense is lacking a complete play, something that you can call and have confidence in no matter what the defense throws at you, then Epee Slash might be what you've been waiting for. This passing play blends custom and standard routes, can attack the defense at just about any depth, and is able to overload the left part of the field without giving up the ability to stretch the defense. Just don't expect to bring this play onto the field and achieve instant results. A lot of reps in practice are required to learn the subtle nuances of this play against various coverages and blitz packages.

I Form-Twin Flex - Epee Slash

As usual in I Form-Twin Flex, the tandem routes on the left side of the formation form the core of this passing play. The split end's corner streak is the primary deep threat in the play and does a good job running off coverage for the underneath flanker slant, and to a lesser extent the TE drag. Against some zones this slot receiver will be uncovered at the snap, and the outward slant of the route allows for a quick pass down the seam for some quick and easy gains. The slant is usually best early, when it can benefit from a possible downfield block by the SE. This characteristic can work double for the TE, who if hit just as he runs past the left guard or tackle can possibly (and with some luck) get simultaneous blocks from the wideouts. Against man coverage the swing is one of my favorite routes because the unfortunate linebacker who has to cover the speedy running back has a long ways to run and a lot of open field to cover.

While a great overall play in the hands of a grizzled veteran, Epee Slash does have its drawbacks and is not a great play for Madden rookies. One problem is that the TE drag leaves the QB somewhat unprotected on his right side in the base formation, leading to sacks by outside blitzers. Sometimes even rolling to the left immediately after the snap isn't enough to avoid a sack. A related issue is that while the slant is one of the best overall routes in the play, a poorly timed throw to the flanker here can hit the TE in the back. This tends to happen most against man coverage when the TE gets a free release into his route and the QB has to hold the ball just long enough for the SE to run off the coverage from the flanker. To avoid these problems practice against a wide variety of defenses is crucial, and the ability to recognize a blitz before the snap and reset the position of the FB to pick it up is essential.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 2yd
Flanker N6E6 (open)
SE N9W2 (open)
TE N1W1-N1W3-W2 (open)
FB Pass Block
RB Swing Right

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

Read Progression

  1. SE corner streak up seam
  2. Flanker slant
  3. RB swing
  4. TE drag
  5. SE corner streak deep

We start things off with the standard hot read versus the blitz, in this case the quick look to the SE in the slot. Running up the seam and just to the outside this route will get just outside the range of most LBs. In the neighborhood is the flanker slant, which unusually works better against most zones than against the man coverages slant routes are often used to exploit. With Epee Slash the reason is that man coverage concentrates the defense on the left side of the field, making a lot of traffic for the flanker to run through and the QB to pass through. Occasionally this route can get open deep over the middle, but not often enough to overlook safer early completions. Next look right to the RB swing. This is another great blitz killer if the protection can hold up for just a second, and is also very nice against man. Not much good against most zones or press coverage though.

The TE is a bit of a wild card because his shallow drag goes right through the heart of the front seven and tends to get caught up in traffic. While its positioning in the short middle might seem to make it great against the blitz the fact that its timing is easily disrupted makes it unreliable in this situation. instead it's most effective later on the left half of the field. Finally we look deep to the corner streak. This route will get a lot of single coverage unless the defense plays man under 2 deep safeties. If you you're really daring you can throw this deep ball against the blitz, using a nice high arc so the QB doesn't have to hold onto the ball for long and placed to the outside to cut down the angle of the FS.




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