A Madden 18 Target Passing Clinic
Madden 18's optional target passing is another new tool to help you break down your opponent. While it can be very useful, it's also not for every situation. Here's a quick guide showing off the feature and some of the things you can do with it.
How It Works
Target passing lets you throw to a specific space on the field. Thus, you can "throw open" your receiver by putting it to an open spot on the field where they will be, not just to where they are. This helps you lead receivers and put the ball out of the reach of any defenders.
Before the snap of each passing play, the primary receiver is highlighted in red (pull down your right trigger to see the playart). Once the ball is snapped, click the left trigger to bring up the different colored target passing icons corresponding to each receiver. Moving the left analog stick brings up an icon that shows where you will throw the ball. It starts out on your primary receiver, but you can move it around at will. To switch it to a different receiver, hold down the left trigger then press that receiver's icon. Pressing the receiver's icon again throws the ball. In terms of the icons themselves, the feature does not take into account your QB's ratings apart from the accuracy of the throw itself.
The first video below starts off showing switching the primary receiver pre-snap as well as my first couple attempts with the mechanic. These early throws are erratic, but moving the passing icon itself feels good, allowing for some refined pass placement. The throw at the :13 second mark demonstrates sideline placement – useful if you want to avoid INTs or lead a receiver to help stop the clock.
The subsequent pass shows one of the pitfalls of the feature. Since you use the left analog to steer the target icon your QB is immobile during Target Passing. You must click the left trigger a second time to allow the QB to move. Also, while you're in Target Passing, don't try and throw to an unselected receiver.
The first two throws show how you'll usually use Target Passing – leading a receiver away from coverage to a spot on the field. The first throw in the video below works (eliciting a nice diving animation), while the second one is clearly too far ahead of the player, an example that the feature is far from automatic. From here, you can also use Target Passing on short throws to make the receiver comes back for the ball. The example at :19 even shows how you can use Target Passing to alter a planned route. Here Diggs' in-route is morphed into a soft hook by making the QB throw to a specific spot on the field. The last throw puts it all together for perfect placement. The ball is on the sideline away from the two defenders and dropped in to allow the receiver to make an easy catch.
Nevertheless, Target Passing isn't useful in all situations. Not only for the fact that you might not want to risk fiddling with it when you don't have to, but some routes don't always require it. In the first pass in the video below I try and throw an in-route to a player who is running a hook. Since the player is at a dead stop trying to lead them to a different spot just isn't possible. The next two passes show situations where the receiver adjusts to otherwise poorly placed and thrown balls to make nice grabs outside of their body. The receivers make the catch, but I made it unnecessarily more difficult, limiting yards after the catch possibilities and risking a drop.
It'll be interesting to see how the community uses Target Passing and if users create overpowered situations – perhaps in combination with superstar receivers and/or certain catch types (aggressive, RAC, etc.). The downside is that apart from rooting your QB to the spot while you're using it, it simply requires more concentration during a play. If you already have problems detecting the rush or going through your read progressions and not just throwing it to your primary receiver, Target Passing is probably just another thing to think about that's going to get in your way.
I anticipate I'll use it in a premeditated fashion and not in the spur of the moment, such as for aiming for the back endzone pylon on fades, steering receivers towards the sidelines, or ensuring that the ball is placed between zones. It will take some time to get the coordination dialed in to activate it and switch between all my receivers during a play. Nevertheless, even if I don't use it a ton, I think it's a very helpful addition due to the control it affords you.