Defense has never really been a fun way to pass the time in EA Sports’ Madden games. The most recent efforts in the series addressed this with features and user interface tweaks that help to guide players toward making the right defensive choices – stuff like the suggested “Ask Madden” plays on each down – but the fact remains that there’s not much fun to be had when you’re trying to shut down the other team’s offense. The Xbox One-exclusive second-screen feature “CoachGlass” is EA Sports’ attempt to change all of that.
Activated directly through your Xbox SmartGlass app, CoachGlass is, for all intents and purposes, a data feed that allows you to make more informed choices about how you’re running your team’s defensive squad in Madden 25‘s Play Now, Online Head-to-Head, Madden Ultimate Team, and Connected Franchise modes. It doesn’t do the work for you, but it feeds you more information than the stock game will, or ever has before.
At the highest level, CoachGlass breaks up into three categories: Personnel, Tendencies, and Play History. Over the course of a game, each of these categories populates with more and more data, helping stats-savvy players make informed choices in the process. You don’t necessarily have to be a football savant to use CoachGlass, but an understanding of the basic rules helps. Being that the Madden series is built around delivering a relatively realistic simulation of professional football, expecting players to understand how to read stats isn’t too much of a stretch.
Personnel deals with the immediate details for play you are about to call: What formation is the opposing offense lining up in for the next play? How many wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends are on the field? Things like that. CoachGlass looks at the formation and offers a list of plays for you to choose from that could potentially counter whatever the offense is going with based on the players on the field. You can then choose the play on your second screen device, since it’s paired with the console.
Tendencies is more about predicting what’s coming and where. It draws from the third category, Play History, which is literally a list of all plays so far in the game, to give you a sense of what the next down might bring. And not just the type of play, but where on the field the ball might go. Your opponent may not realize that they favor the strong side on second down, but the stats will confirm they do and you can prepare accordingly. Say it’s third down with 12 yards to go for a first down. You might expect a pass in a third & long situation like that, but when you look at Tendencies you can see that your opponent faced two other third & long situations in your current game, and chose to run the ball both times.
None of this is foolproof, of course. Using the previous example, you might expect and line up for a running play only to find yourself facing a deep pass. Or you might expect the running back to push up the middle. The goal with CoachGlass is to give players a deeper toolbox when they’re on defense.
Football requires quick thinking, both on the field and from the sidelines. You’re looking at all of this information, disseminating it, and coming up with a plan of action in under 30 seconds. CoachGlass appears to lay out all of the information in a very digestible way, with clearly marked headers, helpful play diagrams, and a smart presentation of useful stats. We’ll go hands-on and see how it feels in a live setting when Madden NFL 25 comes to Xbox One at launch on November 22, 2013.