Madden 22: Tips and tricks to up your game

A new year means a new Madden. With Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes on the front cover, pocket passers and on-the-run QBs will finally settle the dispute of who’s the best in the NFL. Each new Madden tightens a few bolts, changes the UI, and adds new elements to the game that returning players may not be familiar with.

Here are some tips and tricks for Madden 22 that’ll take your game to the next level.

Shake off the rust

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If it’s been a few years since you’ve played a Madden game, it’s best to head into the training menu and run some refresher drills. If you’ve never played Madden or watched a football game on TV, the trainer teaches you the basics of each position and how to use them.

However, the skills trainer menu is hidden, so here’s how to find it.

  • Press the Exhibition tab.
  • Scroll down to Skills Trainer.
  • Select your team and skill level.
  • Select the skill you want to learn/improve.

The best skills to practice and hone are RPOs, Attacking Coverages, and Pre Play. Understanding how these work will mean the difference between touchdown and turnover.

Understanding and recognizing coverages

Understanding coverages in the passing game is imperative to driving downfield and scoring touchdowns. The bane of any Madden player is a costly interception, especially when shortened quarters make picks and fumbles nearly impossible to recover from. Let’s go over the basic coverages you’ll come up against in Madden 22.

How to beat Cover 2

Cover 2 play art in Madden 22.Image used with permission by copyright holder

In Cover 2, two deep safeties split the field in half, each covering their side. You’ll recognize it by the two deep safeties and the CBs playing about 5 yards off the receiver. While these tells aren’t always a dead giveaway, you can trust them more times than not. Cover 2’s weakness is the middle of the field. However, you must keep an eye on the center LB and see where he drops in coverage. If he drops back, you can hit drag routes underneath him. If he steps forward, you can hit deep in-routes over the top.

The deep sidelines should also be pretty open if you can hold one of the safeties in the middle of the field. Do this by putting a TE on a go route off the line of scrimmage and then hitting a deep corner route to the right or left sideline, depending on where the TE and WR were lined up.

Cover 2 also puts DBs in a shallow flat zone, taking away the checkdown throw or at least preventing you from gaining yards. Verticals work well against those flat zones, as your WR will run past the CB, finding an opening in the coverage before passing through the deep zone. However, if you mistake this for Cover 3, you’ll likely throw a pick.

How to beat Cover 3

Cover 3 play art in Madden 22.Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’ll recognize Cover 3 by a single deep safety and the CBs playing 7 to 8 yards off the WRs. In Cover 3, DBs are responsible for three deep zones, making it harder to throw the deep ball if you’ve only got two players running up the field. Run verticals to send four receivers into the three zones. Ideally, you’re seeing who the middle zone defender goes for and then throwing to the open receiver. The sidelines get risky when throwing into Cover 3.

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How to beat Man Coverage

Man Coverage play Art in Madden 22Image used with permission by copyright holder

DBs are assigned to a particular receiver in Man Coverage, trailing them as they run their route. You can recognize Man Coverage pre- and post-snap by looking at how the CBs line up. You can assume it’s Man Coverage if they’re on the line right in front of the receiver. After the play, if the DBs turn their back to the QB, you’ll also know they’re in Man coverage. In Zone, defenders face the QB and usually backpedal into their zones.

Beat Man Coverage with crossing routes, drag routes, ins, outs, and zigs to either “buck” the defender off your receiver or outrun them. Double moves also work against man coverage for the same reason.

When it comes to throwing deep against man coverage, you’ll encounter a Cover 2 scheme, like the image above, or a Cover 1 scheme with a single deep safety covering the back of the field. Remember, if the defender is looking at you, they’re in zone. Check to see where the Safeties are looking before uncorking a deep pass downfield. Your speedy WR may have gotten separation, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t running into a trap.

Go through your reads

Receiver on a hot route in Madden 22.Image used with permission by copyright holder

The “Hot Route” receiver on any play is distinguished by the red color on the play art. However, that doesn’t mean they’re open. Don’t force throws to the hot receiver, especially if they’re running into a covered zone or covered in tight man-to-man coverage. Instead, pick another route you like on the play and see if they’re open.

Check-down throws are short tosses to RBs or TEs out of the backfield. They are usually waiting in the flat or just ahead of the line of scrimmage. You’ll need to break a tackle for these to be gainful, but checkdowns are usually a safe bet to gain a few yards on the play. However, be careful not to throw into a covered flat, especially if the defense is in Cover 2. If they’re blanketed in Man Coverage, you’re better off throwing the ball away by clicking R3 or scrambling with the QB.

Running QBs are all the rave in today’s NFL. If your first two reads aren’t there, or you see an opening to run with your QB, do it. Make sure to run out of bounds or slide to avoid injury or a costly fumble.

You will miss a few passes, and you will throw an interception from time to time. Remember to breathe and relax between bad plays. Don’t try and get it all back on one play, especially with Madden 22‘s momentum mechanic.

When and how to blitz in Madden 22

Aaron Donald in Madden 22.Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you get in the habit of blitzing too much, a wise opponent will torch you in the quick passing game, eventually burning you deep for a touchdown. Knowing when to blitz and how different blitzes work will make your defense as lethal as your offense.

The most important thing to pay attention to is the offensive personnel on the field. You’ll see how many RBs, TEs, and WRs are coming out on the play and can gauge what kind of play it’ll be. For example, if the offense comes out in a two or three TE set, you can assume they plan on running the ball with all that added blocking power. This would be a good time to blitz.

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Otherwise, dial up the blitz on first down and third and long. Your opponent will most likely open up with a run on first down, so blitzing plugs the holes and forces a second and long. On third and long (10-plus yards), the QB needs time for his receivers to get open, so you have more time to pressure and sack him. Less than 10 yards makes the third-down blitz riskier than it has to be.

Who you blitz with is equally important. Just because you’re sending a big LB doesn’t mean they’ll get to the QB in time to make the sack. Mix up your blitz packages with DBs for their pure speed. If you notice the opposing QB likes to scramble right, send that CB at him.

Franchise mode in Madden 22

New England Patriots coaching scheme in Madden 22 franchise mode.Image used with permission by copyright holder

Franchise mode got a complete overhaul in Madden 22. You can take control of your favorite NFL team as a player, coach, or owner, and play through season after season as you grow, change, and upgrade.

Franchise Mode is broken into three ways to play this year: Player, Coach, and Owner. Let’s talk about the advantages of each, with some helpful tips to improve your game on and off the field.

Franchise: The player

You can create a new player at any position or choose an active player in the NFL from the start. Choosing the player branch will put you on your favorite team whether you create a new player or not. However, you’ll only control that particular player off the field. You’ll participate in training drills to build their skills but won’t have full management controls.

When creating a player, you’ll start as a rookie and choose how big the hype is around you. For the easiest experience, select Top Pick for decent overalls (lows 80s) and more freedom. The only downside is the expectation that you’ll perform well. Of course, if you’re a decent Madden player, you should be just fine. You’ll have already chosen which team you want to play for, so don’t worry about getting stuck on a bad team.

For a real challenge, select the undrafted route to build your created player from the ground up. You’ll begin with a mid-60s overall and will have to prove yourself in the league.

Franchise: The coach

As the coach, you’ll have full control of player personnel. You can hire and fire coaches (other than yourself) and set weekly strategies based on your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. You can set offensive and defensive schemes based on your personnel and allocate Staff Points to boost your team further.

For example, the Vertical Zone Run scheme works with the New England Patriots in the image above. However, you’ll want to acquire a more Agile offensive line for it to work. Do so by trading with other teams.

Franchise: The owner

As the owner, you have 100% control over the team. Hire and fire staff, play the entire game, and set concession prices at your home stadium. You’ll have to manage your money, re-sign players, and pay attention to what the fans want out of the team. Answer media questions to give yourself weekly buffs, and don’t be afraid to be cocky. If you predict a win and then get the win, your team receives a buff to Fan Happiness. Lose, and you’ll be hit with a penalty.

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When it comes to stadium pricing, pay attention to what the fans want. Happy fans buy more gear when it’s cheaper, especially at home games. Increase prices while on the road, and keep things affordable at home.

The owner branch gives you the most in-depth experience in Madden 22. You don’t even have to play a single game if the back-office work is more interesting to you. Sim each week, set prices, and pay attention to the media. Tabbing over to News will give you the inside scoop on players looking to be traded.

Madden 22: Ultimate Team

MUT has blown up over the years. Some fans would rather have a stand-alone live-service game focused 100% on MUT. However, you’ll have to start from the bottom again this year, so here are some general tips to get you started. We’ll go more in-depth with a full Ultimate Team guide in another article.

Use the offline challenges to earn coins and decent players. You won’t be getting a 99 overall elite Patrick Mahomes out of this, but you’ll earn enough to build a 75 overall team to take online in Head to Head seasons.

The best challenges are the Superstar challenges for a few reasons. For starters, they’ll earn you several thousand coins as you complete them. Completing a challenge set rewards you with an 80 to 84 overall Superstar Player.

Other than rewards, these challenges make for great practice. They’ll put you in different situations and give you a main goal and bonus goal to meet. For example, one might be “score a touchdown on this drive” with a bonus goal of “score a touchdown in five plays.” If you fail, you can easily restart the challenge. Set the A.I. to three-star difficulty for the most practice. You’re only shooting yourself in the foot when you practice against Rookie defenses.

Understanding X-Factors

Tom Brady's X-Factors in Madden 22.Image used with permission by copyright holder

The best players in the league come with X-Factors, which can lead to game-changing plays. For example, Tom Brady’s X Factor ability called Pro Reads highlights the first open target and ignores pressure. Build up TB12’s X-Factor by completing passes for 5-plus yards. However, taking sacks will decrease your X-Factor gains.

Each X-Factor Superstar has special abilities and unique means of achieving them. To explore and learn about the different X-Factors in the game:

  • Select Roster and Playbooks from the main menu.
  • Press View Superstar X-Factors.
  • Find the player you’re looking for and select them.
  • Read their different abilities and X-Factor conditions.

Superstar players also have passive abilities other than their X-Factor. From the player screen, the first ability is always their X-Factor. Everything else is passive. For example, one of Brady’s passives is Conductor, which lets him make hot routes and line adjustments twice as fast.

Understanding momentum

New to Madden 22 is a tug-of-war-style momentum meter at the top of the mid-game screen. You’ve heard all about Home Field Advantage in Madden 22, but momentum is how you’ll improve upon it. Build momentum by controlling the game. Score touchdowns, sack the QB, and force turnovers to swing the game in your favor. When the momentum meter is full on your side, it’ll either have positive effects on your team or negative effects on the other team. These are called M-Factors.

For example, with momentum on your side, your players might have infinite stamina. Or, your opponent’s QB will have trouble seeing non-checkdown receivers. (Instead of the receiver icon, it’ll appear as a red exclamation point.)

The M-Factors use the same icon for multiple buffs/debuffs. However, they’ll pop up in boxes in the bottom-left and bottom-right of your screen, conveniently covering up your audible list and assignment keys. Whether or not this is an oversight, we’re not sure. Perhaps it’s just another way to hone in on the realism of playing on enemy turf when the game isn’t going your way.

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