Though it looks simple, Drawbridge is a passing play with subtle sophistication that can become a very effective weapon in your team's arsenal given enough practice time. It's a play best suited to teams that have an athletic tight end and starting fullback, each with good hands. A running back with speed to run routes around the outside is also a key asset, as it is these traditionally secondary targets instead of the lone wideout who really make this play work. The TE strikes right at the heart of the defense while the backs bite at the flanks, and good decisions and accurate throws are required by the QB for success.

Sidewinder - Drawbridge

Drawbridge is especially effective against zone or hybrid man/zone defenses (any defense where the backs are not man covered) and when the O-line gives the QB enough time to let the routes develop. This time is necessary partly because of the lack of speed on offense. The TE streak can be an exception to this rule, as it often breaks open immediately after the snap. This completion requires a quick, accurate throw with target placement adjusted depending on the specific defense. On the other hand the RB back routes require nice touch and timing to fit over the top of short zone or the shoulder of a chasing linebacker, but underneath the roaming deep safeties. You will probably get more practice making a wide variety of throws than you ever expected from any play in a one wide receiver formation. Less accurate QBs need not despair too much if they can run, rolling out a bit to the right side can often draw the short defenders up close to open up the RBs behind them.

The biggest downfall of Drawbridge is its limited effectiveness against pure man coverages and blitzes. Man coverage takes away the quick pop throw to the TE, and will neutralize short throws to either back. A deep sideline pass to the IB on the swing will work and often make big gains but requires very good pass protection. Blitzes are hard to pick up by W (#2 FB) and the LBs chasing the RBs on the swing routes will usually run right through the passing lanes to the drag route, which is normally a solid blitz killer. Using motion and learning to put the blocking W back in between you and the blitz are the probably the best countermeasures.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 2yd
TE 20yd Streak
SE N2W2-N1W4 (open)
FB N1E2-N2E2-N2E1-N5E1 (open)
W (FB2) Pass Block
IB (HB) Swing Right

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

Read Progression

  1. TE streak
  2. SE drag
  3. IB swing
  4. FB deep swing

These reads are pretty straightforward. One nice feature I've noticed about this play is that I rarely have to modify my reads based on pre-snap assessment of the defense. The two exceptions to look out for are the TE streak which will sometimes break open late against soft zone coverages after being covered early, and the drag route which can get open very late on the left side against Man Under coverage. Getting back to the main reads, look to the TE first. This might need to be a near immediate throw, and the most important thing to remember is to firmly set the QBs feet. If the QB lobs the ball off his back foot the pass might go right to the MLB. You also need to practice adjusting the ball placement, putting it a bit inside when the ROLB is just outside the TE and a bit deeper than usual to get it over a MLB lurking in short zone.

Next quickly look to the SE drag. This pass will be difficult to complete against across the board man coverages because the LBs and/or safeties covering the backs will likely get in your passing lane. Still, gaps will usually appear and you can complete the pass with a hard throw. The FB/IB combo completes the play. Although the IB can occasionally take a quick toss and juke a defender I find that the other receivers in the area draw too much coverage and that quick passes usually result in little or no gain. Instead I like to let the routes develop. Against man the SE will clear out the cornerback, leaving the IB usually matched up against a LB down the sideline. He'll usually win this battle given enough time and a nicely placed, high-arcing throw. The FB is an even worse option early, he goes through too much traffic and a throw then will likely as not bounce off his back. The ball must be delivered with touch and timing, late enough to let him get deep and turn around for the ball, but not too late as to let him catch it before the safety comes in to break up the pass.




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