Hey everyone, welcome back to FP#5.
This week, I’m going to dive into something that I get many questions about. By far, the most questions in my inbox deal with passing offense. At the beginning of Madden 12, the popular scheme had to be the Strong Close rushing attack out of a number of books (Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, etc…). As the year progresses, however, the community tends to slowly develop ways to slow down the run. I’ll be honest, if you want to run the ball and can be patient, it’s there to be had. There is no dominating play that locks down the run game as a whole.
But Madden has always been a passer’s game. People want to light up the scoreboard. It’s human nature. But many people still struggle with passing concepts. They don’t know which concepts to use, and when to use them. Maybe they aren’t the best at breaking down defenses after the snap of the ball. Maybe they struggle with pressure and/or blocking scheme. There are a number of variables that can contribute to a slowed passing attack. The one that I see most is that people allow their opponents to dictate where the ball is going. People tend to not play the numbers game, and it hurts them. Whether they are running their receiving options over the middle against defenses that have 2 or 3 linebackers in the box (traditional 4-3 or 3-4 sets), or trying to attack the perimeter vs. defenses that are spread out (Dime, Quarters, for instance). There are some players that can understand how to determine coverages from a pre-snap read. They can look and see two high safeties at equal distances from the line of scrimmage and say to themselves “It’s either 2-man or 2-zone.” Some can see 2 safeties high, but one is lined up 3 yards closer to the line of scrimmage than the other, and tell that it’s Man-Free (Cover 1-man under), or Cover 3-zone (possibly 3-Man Under, but Quarters 3-Deep is the only formation that has that play).
So, for those who maybe aren’t as adept at deciphering coverages pre-snap, I’m going to outline a system to make pre-snap coverage reads known as MOFO/MOFC. Yes, MOFO…and MOFC. These aren’t made up terms. These are simplistic ways that coaches teach young quarterbacks in the NFL to make their reads and calls. Think about Christian Ponder and TJ Yates right now. These guys haven’t learned how to attack sudden coverage rolls. They are flying by the seat of their pants using this type of terminology at the NFL level. MOFO actually is an acronym that stands for “Middle Of Field Open”. MOFC stands for, yup, you guessed it; “Middle of Field Closed”. It really is THAT simple.
All I want you to do, in order to simplify your offense, is to take a look at the safeties. Ignore their levels, staggers, etc.; I want you to tell yourself whether or not the look is MOFO or MOFC.
Let’s look at this pre-snap photograph from the Titans/Saints game this year. (See below)
This is MOFC. It’s a very EXTREME MOFC, as the Saints are playing a semi-prevent defense to end the half. The funny thing is that Jake Locker actually showed his inner-rookie and threaded it into triple coverage (a loose triple coverage), but the time on the clock dictated that the Titans should’ve attempted a shot at the endzone prior to the end of the first half.
Here is where I like to play a numbers game.
When you have MOFC coverage, that tells you a couple things: The perimeter is open for play, and you have a NUMBERS ADVANTAGE on the perimeter. -USE IT!
Look at that pre-snap photo above. Let’s assume that the Saints aren’t in a drastic drop of coverage, and say that the corners/safeties are playing their traditional depths. Look at all that OPEN GRASS on the perimeter. The Titans could have gone to a number of calls there. Ideally (assuming time is conducive to the playcall), you could throw a swing pattern to Chris Johnson, or hit the slot WR on the bottom of the screen quickly in the flat (I tend to use Curl-Flats hike throws to simulate a bubble screen in Madden, since Bubble Screen plays are ineffective at best). There is a clear 2 on 1 advantage to the bottom of the screen, and 3-on-3 (AT BEST) near the top. By keeping your routes towards the OUTSIDE of the field, you expose your numbers advantage, as well as enable yourself to get your playmakers the ball in the open field.
Now let’s look at MOFO Coverage. (See below)
This is a prototypical MOFO look. You have 2 high safeties, telling you it’s either Cover 2-man or Cover 2-zone. MOFO concept tells you to use the open grass in the middle of the field. On this particular play, Matt Hasselbeck goes to 4 verts (verticals) to attack this look, spreading the safeties out further to defend all 4 vertical threats. Jared Cook, lined up in the right slot, releases past his man; and Hasselbeck, the crafty veteran, fits the ball in using a beautiful seam pattern inside the safety for a big gain.
What I tend to do versus MOFO looks is to attack the seams down the middle, and fill in the short middle with check down routes. Here’s an example from a 2×2 (2 WRs on one side, 2 on the other) set such as Singleback Spread. (See below)
I use this type of play as a template to attack MOFO coverage. By hot routing the slot WRs to run verticals (streaks) up the seam, you pressure the safeties to get into position inside of the WRs. If it’s zone coverage underneath these safeties, the streaks should pull the linebackers deep enough to dump the slants underneath of the streak as they near the hash marks.
If that’s not enough Madden implementation for you, check out this video below.
Look at the two Chicago Bears offensive plays starting at the 7:00 mark; I’m the one using them in this video.
The first play from the 7-minute mark, I notice a late audible by my opponent (the Raiders), into a 2-high MOFO look. This told me to attack the middle of the field along with stressing of the seams. As you’ll notice, the defense is an all-out coverage, so it’s a little difficult to make a quick throw up the seam. What I allowed was for my WR going up the left seam (Devin Hester) to pull the deep safety further back, and allow the middle of the field to become entirely vacant. Earl Bennett broke early over the middle and may have been open for a tight throw near the left seam, but I avoided the danger of the situation. After a little improvising, Jay Cutler hits Matt Forte over the middle of the field. Notice several crossing patterns that I used to attack this coverage underneath the seam patterns that I used to stress the 2 deep safeties, even though 11 men dropped into coverage, taking away several of the underneath throws.
The second play is my favorite play of all-time in Madden: I read MOFC with 1 high safety, tell myself to attack the perimeter with a numbers advantage by throwing a little slot screen to Johnny Knox, with Matt Forte coming over to block as well, for a quick catch, cut, and run for 6 points.
As you can see, it doesn’t take an offensive genius to tell yourself what has the greatest odds of being open from a pre-snap read. No Mike Leach required. Tell yourself “MOFO/MOFC” and make hotroutes accordingly.
Rules of Thumb for MOFO:
-You want to stress the 2 high safeties up the seams. That grass is OPEN pre-snap.
-You want to fill in the voids underneath, just in case it’s zone. Slants, Drags, Square-ins, and RB delay curls are great check down throws when attacking MOFO.
Rules of Thumb for MOFC:
– Chances are you’re going to see 3 deep coverage; that leaves 4 underneath zones to defend 5 potential receivers. Use the numbers advantage towards the perimeter.
– By attacking the perimeter, you take the front seven out of the play. Chances are you’re able to get the ball out fast enough to negate heat, and having 3 WRs vs. 2 CBs is something I’d take every down if they’ll give it.
Hope this breakdown helps. Take this advice and implement it into your Madden game if you’re struggling to move the ball through the air!
Thanks, and see you in the New Year!
Zac Neal (ZAN)
XBL: Peyton ZANning