For a long while Hydra has been one of my most used passing plays for converting 3rd and medium yardage. A post and streak route run by the twin wide receivers stretch the defense deep and force strong coverage to the offense's right hand side. The tight end and fullback run routes seeking to take advantage of these distractions and sneak out underneath the coverage. The simplicity of the routes and the lack of sophisticated, close cutting crossing routes makes for relatively easy reads and throws for the quarterback. While the play definitely has deep strike possibility, it is this simple reliability that keeps me coming back to it time and time again.

Spades - Hydra

I love sneaking the fullback out of the backfield on pass patterns because many defensive man coverages ignore him, concentrating on the typically faster and more dangerous halfback. This tends to be even more true when the defense blitzes, so if the QB can just complete an easy pass to the back he can often rumble for 10 or more yards. Cornerbacks sliding over the offense's right side help as well, creating potentially wide open pastures for the FB to work in. Still, the key route for moving the sticks is the TE drag. The WRs run dual clearout routes that should absorb the bulk of the coverage, leaving the TE to just need to outrun a linebacker in most situations.

Hydra has one potential disadvantage in that it doesn't make much use of the flats or outside routes. The passing plays in my playbook tend to use as much of the field as possible, so in some ways this might make Hydra a nice change-up. If you rely heavily on my plays that emphasize RB swings, shallow crosses and other short range patterns, this play may catch your opponent overcommitted close and allow some easy strikes down the medium to deep middle.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 2yd
TE N1-N1E1-E5 (open)
SE 20yd Streak
Flanker 10yd Post
FB W1-N2W2-N7 (open)
RB Pass Block

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

Read Progression

  1. Quick seam throw to flanker
  2. TE drag
  3. FB wheel
  4. Flanker post
  5. SE streak

Things are pretty straightforward here, just one quick read that's pretty fundamental to any passing play involving a receiver lined up in the slot. It's a simple quick throw to the flanker as he runs directly down the seam. While this hot read is common its importance must be stressed here. With the tight end on the opposite side of the formation and the blocking HB on the left side as well, there is no blocking support for a wide defensive rush around the right tackle. If the LOLB blitzes in most cases he will have an uncontested beeline to the QB as the RT handles the defensive end, however this will leave the flanker uncovered for at least a brief moment after the snap. A quick throw here is the difference between an easy sack for the defense and an easy 8 or more yards for the offense with good YAC potential. This is also an excellent throw against most zones, as the LB will not get enough depth early and the CB is occupied with the split end.

Now that the hot read is explained, lets look at the rest of the routes. The TE is the short yardage but reliable read. Just eye the LBs and you should easily be able to tell if the throw is open. Pretty good against man, best against a strong side blitz which can be picked up, and maybe a bit slow to get open in time against a weakside blitz. Keep looking left to the FB wheeling out into the open left side. With luck he won't be covered at all, but in most cases will do a good job working his way open against single man coverage as long as the QB can hold the ball just long enough for him to turn upfield. Shorter gains can also be had underneath softer zones. The flanker post is where things get a bit more daring, there are some good gains to be had here but it really requires a hard, precise throw. The streak is a bit of an afterthought, mainly to draw coverage from the other routes, but I've found that if the safeties are in 2 deep zone coverage there is a weakness to exploit. Unless both safeties cheat to the twin WR side, the free safety will stay over to the FB side and the post pattern will occupy the strong safety. Hold the ball until just after the flanker breaks to the inside, letting the SS's inside step take him out of the play, and then fire a hard pass to the streaking SE before the SS can recover.




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