Madden NFL 17

27 Ways Madden NFL 17 Wants To Fix Money Plays, Ratings & More
by Matthew Kato on May 18, 2016 at 12:16 PM
Platform PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher EA Sports
Developer EA Tiburon
Rating Everyone

Madden NFL 17 recently unveiled some of its first details, and while a new sheen for the series' franchise mode was touted, the development team at EA Tiburon also has gameplay in its sights. This includes attempts to fix some long-standing gripes from fans.

Money plays – those ones that people spam over and over to near-guaranteed success – are the bane of any sports title, and Madden has its share. But Madden 17 has lofty aims to eliminate those. "What we would like to believe we have built is a defensive counter to every single offensive concept that exists in Madden,"says creative director Rex Dickson.

  • A new section of the playcalling menu called Run/Pass Counters lets you pick areas of the field where you're getting beat. Someone keeps dinging you with RB passes to the flat? Go to Run/Pass Counters>Pass Counters>Short Passes Outside. This brings you to the new zones like a Cover 2 Hard Flat where the linebacker matches the player going out to that area of the field. If you commit to the flat you can get burned elsewhere, so you still have to anticipate your opponent's moves and call the right plays.

  • This hard flat play also demonstrates the new zone coverages by defenders. Previous games had four spot drops, where a defender simply dropped to a predetermined spot and covered that area only. This meant defenders were statues as receivers caught passes around them. Now there are eight new zones, and defenders cover better in them.

  • Here's an example of the new zones in action: The Slant Drag Combo (the TE comes across the middle, and the slot receiver slants over the top) vs. a Cover 3 Sky. This year the linebackers in the Cover 3 Match track the receivers as they come through the defenders' zones. So what looks like a zone defense before the snap shifts to man-to-man as the play develops.

  • Similarly, defensive pattern matching plays set the rules and responsibilities for defenders. For instance, In a match defense, if you're a linebacker and the number one receiver crosses your face on a slant or drag route, your responsibility is to match him instead of letting him run by. But if the number three receiver goes vertical on that same play, you follow him down the field instead. "It's not the same reads you've been making for the last 25 years, because things play out a lot differently now," Dickson says.

  • At the line of scrimmage, new gap responsibilities make defenses smarter and harder to break down. Dickson mentions trying to stop the toss running play. Now a defender tries to come to the line of scrimmage and attack the perimeter to force the play back inside and prevent the runner from turning the corner.

  • Defenders attack gaps on plays and are smarter and more aware of their jobs, which should lead to less brainless swarming of ball carrier at the expense of being out of position. Dickson also mentions that the Nickel Double-A Gap Blitz actually works this year.


  • To help out during the run game, users can turn on the optional Threat Cone, which looks like last year's Tackle Cone. Through this the game calculates the angle and distance of an oncoming defender, figures out the ball carrier's special move ratings and what he's good at, and prompts the player to push the appropriate button (like spin move, juke, stiff arm, etc.) at the right time.

  • Special moves are tied to ratings and separated into tiers. Thus, if you have a 75 rating, for instance, you're only going to be able to perform lower-tier moves while higher-rated players can pull off elite moves.

  • Stamina influences the special moves you can pull off, so if you're out of gas the special moves you can pull off goes down a tier.

  • Special moves also breakout into four categories. Sprint moves (R-trigger + special move) are fast moves that only work against one defender at a time. Standard moves (no modifying button + special move) are slower and work against multiple defenders. Precision moves (L-trigger + special move) are the slowest moves you can make, but can be used to fake out unlimited defenders. Finally, steerable moves (both triggers + special move) are the most controllable since you can point the direction you want to go in (although spins, jukes, back jukes, and trucks are not steerable).

  • Tackle Battles are also controlled by ratings this year. If you're being gang tackled you have a short window to hit a specific button prompt to break out of the gang tackle. This was done automatically last year. Hitting the Tackle Battle button also applies to defenders making the tackle.

  • The developer says it's looking at players' ratings and tweaking certain mismatches that have been happening through the years. For instance, cornerbacks were making tackles on power backs at too high of a rate. Thus, the team is going to look at CBs' tackle rating versus the RBs' break tackle rating. Also, the team is tweaking ratings related to the new features so the outcomes are balanced and realistic.


  • The new kicking meter works like the traditional three-click golf swing. First button press starts the kick, second one sets the power, third one determines accuracy. Through this new meter, ratings for kickers and punters will matter more.

  • Blocked kicks can actually occur this year.

  • However, EA Tiburon wants to make sure that the game is tuned so that you can't block more kicks in a game than is statistically realistic in the real world.

  • Kick block formations, like overloading one side or clogging the middle, have been added.

  • Conversely, trick run and pass plays have been added to the field goal and punt formations.

  • Despite these new special teams formations, the downfield blocking will largely be the same during returns.

  • New kick types inlcude sky punts, backspin punts, and the return of onside aiming and squib kicks.

  • No bobbled snaps can happen during special teams plays.

After years of trying, Madden 16's physics finally brought more realism to the game's hits and tackles. However, Dickson admits not everything on the field got converted to the new physics system, such as the football itself. Now he says the ball is in the "same universe" as the players.

  • For years the ball would snap to a player's hand in a catch even though in the process the ball might be pulled through a defender. Now it will collide with body parts and be knocked out when appropriate.

  • Since the ball is reacting to more objects, there are more drops for receivers in traffic, and initiating a possession catch in traffic (and alternately not doing run-after-catch in traffic) is more important.

  • Since there is no scripting for the path of the ball, it bounces differently after tips. EA made new animations for reacting to tips, attempted and successful fumble recoveries, and knee/ankle/sliding catches. Also, the player models can move their arms better to track the ball.


  • The defenders' gap awareness now means that offensive linemen must zone block defenders coming through those gaps. This is not only an added AI responsibility, but it also enables the creation of cutback lanes for running backs. It will be interesting to see how linemen respond to defenders attacking gaps, and whether identifying defenders on the edge and in space is something they can do this year.

  • General improvements are being made to the overall "feel" of the running game, backs' turning, and locomotion physics.

  • Rookie and Pro-level difficulty players can use the optional Auto Moves feature. This performs special moves for you while you're running, leaving you to concentrate on just steering.


  • EA is redoing players' cleats and gloves, and offering new sleeve options.

Products In This Article

Madden NFL 17cover

Madden NFL 17

PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: