Speed Quarter is my ultimate pass defense formation. 7 defensive backs, 2 linebackers and just 2 defensive ends on the line of scrimmage puts about as much speed as humanly possible on the field at one time. This was actually my base defensive formation in Madden 2004, where I was able to stop the run with reasonable success through multiple blitz schemes, particularly using the slot corners. In Madden 2004 the offensive line can more easily overpower smaller defenders, and CPU opponents seem better able to recognize that they can run up the middle against lighter defenders. This has relegated Speed Quarter to primarily passing situations, which it excels at as much as ever.
Speed Quarter is a symmetric and balanced formation. I deploy my best cornerbacks on the outside, where they may be forced to cover in isolation. The #3 and #4 corner play in the slot where they tend to get more help defensively. I always pair #3 with #2 and #4 with #1 to keep both sides of the field roughly equal in coverage ability. The normally starting free and strong safeties play at their traditional deep positions, with a third safety, who I call the rover, playing right in the middle. Usually the rover will be the second strong safety, but should always be the third best safety on the team.
One issue with Speed Quarters is that it really pushes the limits of any NFL roster. Most teams only carry four cornerbacks period, meaning that an injury to any of them will force someone to play out of position. In at least one case I gave up a long touchdown because I played Speed Quarters with two injured defensive backs and a linebacker was inserted at strong safety. You really want at least four serviceable CBs and three decent safeties, plus one more guy who can fill in adequately at either position. They don't have to be great because they'll have lots of help around them, just decent. In my franchise I cut my worst DB and a defensive lineman and picked up a corner and safety in free agency. This will ensure that your Speed Quarters defense can dominate in pass coverage as well as stand up to a few injuries.
A great call when the offense shows pass but may try fool you with a run. Five defensive backs in man coverage can handle most short to medium distance passes, while six blitzers provide pressure and maintain adequate defense against the run, preventing easy gains.
My favorite defensive play when you're sure the opposing offense will throw. You top CB plays man coverage while five of the other six DBs play unconventional moving zones that will cause bad QB reads, taunting him into throwing interceptions.
The classic zone and man combo coverage brought to the Speed Quarter formation. A reliable pass defensie that is truly a must have for every defensive playbook.
A pure zone coverage that blankets the field in defensive backs. QBs will have time in the pocket, but finding an open receiver is another story. Especially effective in forcing interceptions when expecting pass in the red zone.
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