First, a warning: do not throw soft passes to the flanker, especially late. Again, do not throw late lob passes to the flanker. One more time, DO NOT THROW LATE PASSES TO THE FLANKER! This includes touch passes, passes off the quarterback's back foot, or desperation passes to avoid a sack. Throw it somewhere else, anywhere, or eat it and take a sack, but for love of all that is good, do not lob a soft pass over the the right flats unless you like watching the opposing DBs running the other way for six. There, consider yourself warned, and let's move onto the play.

Spades - Mace

If the intro paragraph didn't scare you off, let me back up a bit and say that Mace has quickly become one of my favorite and most versatile plays. Learning to use it in real game situations was a bit of a trial by fire at first, though, so I just want to prevent you from making a few basic mistakes that might make Mace look bad. There are two features of Mace that really give it outstanding potential. The first is the inside-out route combination run by the right side receivers. The flanker can be throw to immediately off of the line or after he cuts under the split end, depending on the setup of the defensive backs. The second is the standard running back swing pass. The Spades formation in general and the Mace play in particular bring out the best in this simple route. The RB starts in the backfield with enough depth to catch the ball and maneuver before reaching defenders, and with the TE running to the right most of the pass defense is out of the way. Like many other things in the Spades formation, swing passes have the most potential against man coverage where it just becomes a sprint to the outside, but even against zones there is plenty of room to work for modest gains.

The TE drag is also a good option. I works best when he releases cleanly for the line. Don't hold onto the ball if he gets caught up in traffic. Either dump it to the back or throw the SE post, which rounds out the play. The post is a dangerous throw though, and won't work well if the SE is bumped off the line. It can work well against deep zones though. The fullback provides solid backside pass protection. If the defensive line shifts over to the right, sending him in motion can pick up the blitz effectively.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 1yd
TE N2E1-N1E5 (open)
SE 5yd Post
Flanker N1E1-N1E5 (open)
FB Pass Block
RB Swing Left

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

Read Progression

  1. Flanker out
  2. TE drag
  3. RB out
  4. RB swing
  5. SE post

While this may look like one of my simpler read progressions, don't be fooled, there is a lot to look for. Despite the warnings I gave, the flanker is your primary target. How to throw to him depends on how the defense aligns. The three most common coverages are man-to-man on both receivers, zone, and combination zone and man with bump-and-run on the outside. Against man the flanker will be able to "rub off" his man on the SE who starts straight upfield. Throw as the flanker cuts directly under the SE, hard and to the outside. Make sure the flanker actual gets separation before making this throw. Against full zone hold off from throwing to the flanker. It's too easy for the outside cornerback to just sit and break on the ball when it's thrown for an interception. Against bump-and-run on the outside is actually my favorite situation. Watch for it immediately after taking the snap and if it is, throw a quick, hard pass to the flanker before he cuts outside. Step into the throw and place it away from the outside corner in case he breaks away from the SE quickly. The flanker will catch the ball, run right past the bump-and-run corner and to the outside away from the deep and middle zone defenders. Other than that, some defenses may double cover one receiver for a total of three DBs in the area. In this case look elsewhere, the TE or RB are open.

The TE drag works best against zone defenses and when he gets off the line without being jammed. Against man defenses it's tough, the TE runs through a lot of traffic and often will not get good separation. Look for the swing pass to the back. This almost always works for at least a few yards, and against a blitz is a downright killer. The only way to really shut it down is to have both a LB and CB in zone on the left side, or a combination zone and man to get two defenders covering the back. Finally, the short post pattern is an option that should be used sparingly. It won't work if th receiver is jammed and is dangerous against man defense. I like it best against soft zones where the early break cuts under the safety.




Contact Arkaein with any comments or questions regarding the Monstrous Madden Playbook.