An extraordinarily versatile play which is based upon each receiver running sharp routes with two possible throws for each. All routes start upfield to give the quarterback quick options in the face of pressure, then most break into different directions, stretching the defense. In and out patterns run at different depths build off of hard slants to cross over and under each other, forcing defenders to chase laterally across the field. Switchblade is my favorite play to use in a hurry-up offense.

Nebula - Switchblade

If I had to pick a primary target in Switchblade, it would have to be the left flanker out, which defenses sometimes have a tendency to lose track of. However, to be successful a QB really has to learn to throw to every receiver. The out patterns should gain at least 5 yards with good potential for runs after the catch. The other routes should all gain at least this much, and probably more depending on how long you can hold the ball before throwing. The middle streak can often get 20 or more yards over the deep middle when he draws single coverage.

The best features of Switchblade are the quick reads built into every route. When faced with immediate pressure, especially from a blitz, the QB can make a quick pass to any receiver before he makes his break. The defense has to make a choice: bring heat early and hope the QB does not exploit the early gaps in coverage, or play back and hope normal D-line pressure can create pressure while DBs chase receivers all over the field.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 3yd
Left SE N2W1-E7 (open)
Left Flanker N3E1-W7 (open)
Right SE N5W2-N5W2 (open)
Right Mid Flanker N3E4-N7E1 (open)
Right Rear Flanker N3W1-E7 (open)

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

Read Progression

  1. Left SE before break
  2. Right SE up seam
  3. Left Flanker slant before break
  4. Right rear flanker slant before break
  5. Right mid flanker slant out
  6. Left flanker out
  7. Right mid flanker corner
  8. Right rear flanker out
  9. Left SE in over short middle
  10. Right SE deep over middle

This 10 step read progression just might be the most complex you've ever seen. The good news is that you generally don't have to worry about all of these reads each time you run the play, though it is suggested you practice each one.

The first five reads are all blitz hot reads. The order given is more the order when they become first open for a good throw; there isn't time to read each one. Pick out the two or three that look best before the snap based on how the defense lines up. My favorites are the two rear flankers running right up the hash marks and the right SE in front of them. The quick slant out by the left SE and the mid flanker slant corner can also work but tend to be tougher throws, in more traffic and aimed at the receiver's backs.

For the main sections of each route, I like the rear flanker out patterns best. The left flanker especially can get wide open due to busted coverages and occasionally make easy catches followed by long runs. The left SE in can get stuck in a lot of traffic, making it a more dangerous throw. The middle streak route can be a great big play route. With five receivers you will get single coverage on most routes, and sometimes you can get the SE singled against a safety who has his back turned to the QB. In this case just heave it long and let your SE go up an get it.




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