Maddenbowl 2020 was won by a player who only ran the ball.
Thats how important running the ball is in Madden 21.
The NFL is a pass-heavy league, and a lot of the focus is on QBs and their receivers.
But when you look at the successful teams, they have always managed to run the ball well and control the clock.
Follow these tips to become a pro at pounding the rock in Madden 21
Over recent years, Madden has tweaked its running mechanics to a place where Madden 21 represents a good balance between arcade and realism - but that doesn't mean it's easy.
There has been particular focus this offseason on stick skills becoming more important.
This is less about the buttons you press, and more about the chess match with your opponent.
Money plays are great, but use them repeatedly and good players will shut you down.
You need a strategy for running the ball to win games every time you play.
CHESS MATCH: Choosing the right play against your opponent is a strategy game
Our first tip - try not to be too obvious.
Rushing every 1st down will lead to a poor running game that gets shut down easily, and will leave you stuck on 3rd and long.
Likewise, if you never run on 3rd down you will be easier to read and miss out on some easy yardage.
Take the time to build an offensive identity, and run the ball from the start of the game.
Then when you're in the lead, it is much easier to run the clock down. In terms of specific plays, Counters and Stretches are quite important to mix in for this year's Madden.
Use Pre-Snap Adjustments
Read Defensive Front
Look to make the most of the green/red box that indicates the number of defenders vs blockers. Switch the run to the opposite side of the planned side is Red.
This is a simple audible, but can make match up problems for your opponent.
READ MORE: How to use pass rush moves in Madden 21
If it's all red, consider changing to a short pass.
MAKE EM MISS: Rushing plays can be as deadly as big passing ones
ID the Mike
Lb/L1 followed by A/X then choose the Mike with A/X again
This identifies a tackler on defense you want to give extra blocking attention to. This can help with extra space in the lanes if you focus on a linebacker that is in the area you are looking to exploit.
Lb/L1 followed by RS left or right for a direction of blocking
This adjustment changes the direction your blockers will move towards. You can select left or right. This will give a little bit of an edge to your blockers if you have a run to the outside.
There is a collection of precision skills that can take your game to the next level. A lot of amateur players tend to use them incorrectly though.
These stick skills have been updated for Madden 21. The full list and buttons is here, but these are some of the key ones;
Protect the Ball - RB/R1
This slows down your player but puts both hands on the ball and virtually stops any chance of a fumble.
Using this at the end of a run when about to be tackled is the smart play.
Hurdle - Y/Triangle
This is an ego move only - the risk of fumble is not worth the odd chance of an extra few yards.
RATINGS MATTER: Juke ratings make better jukes...and so on.
We recommend avoiding at all costs.
Spin - B/Circle
This is usually overused in the wrong situations, and the player spins back into tackles.
Know your player, and only use with high spin, high agility players.
Time this when you are one on one in the open field or can spin back into space if a rush lane gets clogged.
Stiff Arm - A/X
This is probably the most powerful tool in the running game.
Again, use a player with high strength and stiff arm ratings - time the button at the same time the tackle is coming to increase effectiveness.
Juke/Truck - Directional on RS
Another powerful tool that should be used on nearly every run.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: All these modifiers have a small window to get right
Directing the skill forward can help gain extra yards if you are being brought down. However, if in open space direct it sideways to completely bypass a defender.
If you're running down a sideline with only one covering player, a backward juke can sometimes make the tackler miss.
Don't Hold Sprint
This is the most common mistake players make with their running game.
Often players hold the button from the snap and either run out of steam, or run right into the back of their OL.
Watch for the gap and understand where your OL players are going to move and block.
READ MORE: Best offensive scheme in Madden 21
Usually, there will be an open lane, and your skill is in waiting for it and finding it. Patience is a virtue.
Only hit the sprint button when you get to the line of scrimmage. This change of pace makes defenders miss, and will mean you have enough to get the touchdown if you do break a big one.
Know Your Players
Underpinning all of the above, is having players that suit your game.
There is no point having a nifty back like Christian McCaffrey and then running straight up the middle at huge DT's.
Likewise, theres no point getting a big back like Nick Chubb into space and trying to duck and dodge.
SQUARE PEGS IN SQUARE HOLES: Players make a scheme, not the other way around
Build a sensible plan around your team, and bring in a playbook and scheme that reflects that.
This also applies to the OL that has to lead the way for your running back.
Taking over a team with an OL like the Dallas Cowboys will make for a much stronger running game, than a team like the Miami Dolphins.
READ MORE: How to perform a lateral pass in Madden 21
For more articles like this, take a look at our Madden 21 page.