Although the sports world is having to navigate its respective seasons differently thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that football fans can count on is the annual release of Madden NFL. This year’s iteration brings everything that players continue to love about the series, but adds an entirely new game mode in “The Yard” which harkens back to the days of backyard football. What makes The Yard stand out from a typical Madden experience is that its gameplay is largely based around making things happen offensively through the use of trick plays. But that doesn’t mean that traditional 11-on-11 Madden gameplay is short on trick plays itself.
Here are TheGamer’s picks for the best trick plays in Madden 21.
Shotgun Bunch: Fake Reverse
The Fake Reverse is a play in which you’ll need to run with patience at the forefront of your mind. As soon as the play begins, keep an eye on where the defense is migrating. You’re not going to get a lot of blocking help on this play, but as long as your running back can wait for the defensive players to get clogged up, a quick sidestep should allow you to find the open lane to run right through. The Fake Reverse is especially effective after attempting a normal Reverse play or two.
Shotgun Double Stack: PA Jailbreak Screen
Less of a “trick” play, the PA Jailbreak Screen is one of the more effective screen plays in the game, especially when facing a zone defense. You may need to buy a bit of time in the pocket with your quarterback, but if you’re able to get the pass off, you should have a wide open field with multiple blockers at your disposal.
Shotgun Doubles: Fade HB Wheel
Especially effective against man defense, HB Wheel routes are some of my favorite routes in the game. For this play, you’ll want to buy your quarterback plenty of time by running to the same side of the field as the running back’s route. Assuming they’re in single-coverage, a lob pass should allow the ball to fall right into the hands of the receiver who, most likely, beat his coverage. Sure, your quarterback could probably run for the first down, but a touchdown is way more fun.
Shotgun Doubles: Flex WK Redzone HB Corner
Similar to the wheel route, this play is effective against single-coverage, and even more so if you have a speedy running back being covered by a linebacker. If you’re able to give the play some time after hiking the ball, your running back should be wide open around the first down marker. The rest of the receiver routes take defenders away from that side of the field, meaning you should be able to run into the endzone unimpeded.
Shotgun Doubles: HB WK QB Sonya Check
Another one not necessarily considered a trick play, the HB WK QB Sonya Check is great for teams with a speedy #2 receiver, while being effective against a zone defense. So long as your quarterback is given time, he should have plenty of success tossing to the receiver in the back corner of the endzone. Scramble to the same side as the play for an increased success rate.
Pistol Doubles: Jet Pass Fk HB
So, the defense is showing press coverage, eh? Perfect. That’ll make this play a breeze as your lightening-quick receiver takes the ball downfield, following his running back who’s more than willing to provide a block or two.
Pistol Doubles: Jet Touch Pass
The Jet Touch Pass is a high-risk, high-reward type of play where a lot can go wrong. However, if your blockers do their job and you select the right hole to run through, your receiver should be able to pick up plenty of yards, which becomes even truer if you have one or two downfield blockers clearing the way.
Pistol Full House: Base Raven Post Wheel
While this play does contain a wheel route, it’s your outside receiver that you’ll be throwing to. You’ll need to afford your quarterback lots of time on this play to allow the WR to get downfield on his post route. You’ll have increased chances of this working if your receiver is good at catching in coverage.
Pistol Spread: Zone Fake Jet
Only for the most patient of players, the Zone Fake Jet has so many moving parts that it can do a number on opposing defenses. Allow your running back to size up the defense as he gathers the ball, then turn on the thrusters as you make your way through the wide-open hole towards the block that’s being thrown downfield.
Pistol Strong: Slot Jet Touch Pass
The second Jet Touch Pass on the list, this particular formation could still see lanes open up, but allows for an increased likelihood of being able to run the ball to the outside before darting upfield. Again, you’ll want to be sure you’re using a speedy ball carrier.
Singleback Bunch: PA End Around Sift
The PA End Around Sift is another high-risk, high-reward play call, maybe even more so than the Jet Touch Pass. After all, two fake handoffs take a long time to develop. However, if given the necessary time, your quarterback should have all day to through to almost any receiver down the field – all of whom should be relatively wide-open. That said, the receiver in the endzone will need to be skilled at catching in coverage.
Singleback Wing Tight: Jets Shot
The Jets Slot is an interesting play which could get you short yards if you throw the ball quickly, but could also reward you with longer gains with a downfield lob pass. The latter option is riskier, but oh so worth it if you’re able to pull it off.
I Form Pro: HB Pass
We’ve made it to the crème de la crème of Madden 21’s trick plays, with the HB Pass being a surefire play to frustrate your opponent. It’s all about the lob pass with your running back, with increased catch chances coming with a receiver who can catch in coverage.
I Form Tight: HB Pass
The second HB Pass in the game, one tip is to pay attention to whether your running back is left or right-handed, and run the play to that side of the field. This isn’t mandatory, but will shave off a second or two from your running back having to reposition his body to throw properly.
Pistol Philly: Philly Special
The Philly Special is admittedly difficult to run – especially if being blitzed – but is one of the most satisfying trick plays in Madden to execute, especially when facing zone coverage.
Pistol Philly: Fake Philly
The Fake Philly is the way to go if you’ve already called a Philly Special or two in the game. Using a fast running back will increase your chance of making it to the outside of the formation to run upfield down the sideline.
And there you have it: Madden 21’s best trick plays. One day, Madden NFL will bring back the Flea Flicker, but until then, hopefully, these plays will allow you to take your opponents by surprise.
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