Madden 20 Defense: 7 tips to stopping the run

Running the ball is going to lead to success in Madden 20. How can you stop it?


Madden 20 has increased the focus in running well and to be successful it’s important to control possession and the clock. Therefore, to beat good players, you will have to know how to stop the run.

We will look to go into more detail on specific plays, formations and scenarios in future content but it is important to start with the basics and make them second nature in your play. So what are they?

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Shifting the line

LB/L1 + Left or Right on LS

You can move your defensive line from left to right to set an edge in case of an outside running play. This is a good way of giving extra support, without going so far you leave yourself wide open if you get it wrong. The NFL is like a game of chess, and you are always trying to read your opponents steps before they happen. 

This won’t unlock huge plays, but it won’t give up huge plays either.

Pinch line

LB/L1 + Down on LS

This is the pinch line option, and it makes your defensive line narrower. This is the equivalent of shifting but for stopping runs through the middle. Again, this is a boom or bust adjustment, but it can be the difference between a 3rd and 1 conversion or not.

This is best used alongside other adjustments such as guessing the play.

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Guessing the play

LB/L1 + Relevant Direction on RS

Guessing the play opens up more opportunity but also more risk. As you get more confident in reading your opponent you can use the right stick to tell your players what you want them to cheat on. If you select run right, your players will expect this and it will override their awareness and play recognition stats to focus on defending the opposition running right. If the opposition then does a play action pass, your defenders will be more susceptible to biting on this fake.

If you guess right, you will get a decent boost – but it is a gamble. Get it wrong and you will give up yards. This is good in MUT if you are getting an opponent playing the same plays repeatedly.

Individual defensive assignment

When on chosen player X/A + Up on RS + select running back button

If you are confident that the opponent will run the ball it’s an option to put people in a man assignment to that player. This is risky because if you are wrong it will leave you light somewhere in pass coverage.

You can combine this with usering to get multiple players attacking the ball carrier from different angles.

Quick flip play

X/Square + RT/R2

This is a hugely underrated but easy adjustment. Often you will set up your defense the way you think the opposition will go, only for them to flip the play on offense. Well now, you can flip your defense to match, with a click of a few buttons.

This will replicate exactly what you did, but to the other side. 

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Right formation

This is a mental tip as opposed to anything operational in the game. When picking a formation a good general rule to follow is to match the number of cornerbacks to the number of wide receivers in the offensive formation.

Therefore, if there are 2WRs then pick a 3-4 or 4-3 formation. If there are 3WRs then go into Nickel, Dime and Dollar. And when 4WRs it would be a Quarter formation. Now these aren’t hard and fast but the key is that if you do not have 7 in the box (3-4, 4-3 formations) on the run plays – you will give up a lot of big plays.

User linebacker

LT/L2 For Strafing

One of the most common mistakes a casual player makes is usering the defensive line. Any player you user gets the boost of your focus but also the risk of you messing up. When you first start usering linebackers, there are always a lot of mistakes and it puts people off. Stick with it. It’s the single biggest improvement to your game you can make. In passing situations you can cover multiple routes but it’s also massive in stopping the run. 

You can stare at the running back, knowing that’s your man to cover and react to which way they go. Running to the edge is huge in this Madden and usering is the best way to combat it. When you get to the edge with your user, you will meet the runner and slow them down. You react a lot quicker than the CPU defender ever will, especially when factoring in their play recognition and awareness stats. 

If you can combine all these tips then your defense can become an iron curtain and force your opponent into making risky passes on 3rd & long while frustrating them and pushing them into mistakes.

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Tom Owen

Contributor. I joined RealSport in 2019 contributing to Madden content.

I have followed the NFL for 15 years since playing Madden 2004, alongside being an avid life long gamer. I have been in a national Madden franchise league called NFL Out of Hours for 5 years.

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