How Pro Players Adapted to Stop Low Passing Corner Routes From Compressed Sets
What’s up guys, Holden here and this write up is going to be on the adjustment I noticed players making in the Madden 17 Championship tournament in order to slow down the ever popular “bench” adaptation that has emerged this year. The one that I am talking about is being run out of compressed sets such as Gun Tight Flex, Gun Tight Offset TE, Singleback Snugs Flip, Jumbo Heavy, etc. The picture below shows Problem running it against Volterax who is in a Cover 2 Invert style defense in their quarterfinal matchup.
As you can see above, the route combo is very simple. Both outside receivers are hot routed to flat routes which do an excellent job of sucking those flat zones out towards the sideline. The corner routes then develop in the area that is left vacant; the flat zones have been stretched horizontally while any hook zones over the middle of the field generally struggle to maintain outside leverage in order to adequately defend them. This concept can even be successful against a double flat defense in which both a hard flat and cloud flat are put on the same side of the field, and this is where defender alignment pre-snap becomes super important. If you have a cloud flat that begins too far outside pre-snap then the throw will still likely be able to be fit in right as the corner route breaks. I did my best to illustrate this concept in the image below but it can be somewhat abstract. The defense I used as a demonstration was just DB Fire 2 Press with both blitzing corners put into hard flats. You can see how there will still be room to complete those corner routes as they cut in the pink circles, even though hypothetically the zones on the field should take those routes away. You will see that people will throw a low pass lead to whichever corner route is open as they break, which usually ends up being whichever one the user defender is not covering.
The adjustment I saw players such as Skimbo and Volterax making to try and defend this look was in fact out of the defense shown above, DB Fire 2 Press. There were two reasons that this defense was a good choice to defend this play: the alignment that the linebackers are able to be in pre snap as well as their hook zone assignment, the vertical hook. They would normally set it up the basic way by base aligning, pressing, and pinching the defensive line. The key adjustment that they were then making was to shift the linebackers to the left as shown in the image below. I believe the same result can be achieved from shifting the backers to the right as well, everything would just be flipped.
What this accomplished was it put the vertical hook defender, the linebacker, on the outside hip of the receiver that would be running the corner route on that side of the field. This allowed for him to have much better outside leverage post snap when dropping back to defend against the corner route. At this point since the defense can now be confident that a computer controlled defender will actually be in position to make a play, they can focus their attention to usering the corner route on the opposite side of the field. A demonstration of this can be seen in the gif below during a group stage matchup between Skimbo and Serious Moe.
Mark Barron plays the corner route on the left perfectly which allows Skimbo to give his user attention to the corner route on the right side. On top of this, the blitz comes through and Moe has two useless routes on the field in the flats on 4th and 7. He is forced to throw as the corners break and decides to throw it to the one Skimbo is not usering, which ends up getting picked off by Mark Barron.
This concept in theory should be replicable out of any formation as long as it contains the same two elements of being able to get vertical hook defenders into the right position pre snap to defend those corner routes. I hope this write up was able to help some of you if you guys were running into this concept a lot online and if you made it this far then I really appreciate you taking the time to read this! Thank you and much love