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The top 5 best defensive playbooks in Madden 22

With 32 NFL teams and a handful of non-team-specific playbooks, Madden 22 players have plenty of options when it comes to choosing the best defensive playbooks to run. However, the gambit of players runs from the casual football fan to the Bill Belicheck of Madden 22. Your choice of defensive playbook changes based on how defensive-minded you are. Here are the top five Defensive playbooks in Madden 22.

General defensive schemes

Defenders tackle wide receiver in Madden 22.
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Every defensive playbook in Madden 22 comes with the same core plays and schemes. You’ll notice the same man and zone coverage packages along with several of the same blitz packages scattered throughout. An average player can use any defensive playbook and, with the help of their coach’s suggestions, prevent the offense from picking up first downs or scoring points.

If you’re looking to step your defense up in Madden 22, it’s time to move away from basic play types and start learning different formations. Formations are related to the different defense packages you’re putting out on the field. When looking at formations, you’ll see two or three numbers separated by a dash (3-4 or 4-3 or 3-3-5.) The first number represents the number of Linemen on the field. The second accounts for the LBs, and a third number represents the DBs (CB, FS, SS) in certain packages. So, in the 3-3-5, you’ll have three linemen, three LBs, and five DBs to make up your 11-man defense.

Let’s touch on these formations and what they’re meant to stop in Madden 22.

The 3-4 defense

The 3-4 defense in Madden 22.
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The 3-4 defense features three linemen and four LBs. Focusing on speed, you’ll find several run-stopping blitzes in this scheme. 3-4 is great for stopping outside runs, as you can shift your defense to the left or right, depending on where you believe the play is going. Your linebackers can also defend the pass in Zone Coverage, but don’t rely on them to cover speedy receivers man-to-man on passing plays.

The 4-3 defense

The 4-3 defense in Madden 22
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Opposite the 3-4, the 4-3 features four linemen and three LBs and is best for inside runs and QB containment. Your LE and RE are the stars of this formation, as they’re responsible for sending an outside run back towards your DTs. However, with three linebackers covering the middle of the field, you’re more susceptible to crossing routes, drag routes, and general mid-field passing.

Nickel and Dime

The 3-4 and 4-3 only account for seven out of 11 players on the field. Those packages feature four DBs (Two CBs, an FS, and an SS). The Nickel subs an extra CB in for one of your LBs, allowing you to cover three WRs while keeping your linebackers on TEs and in the backfield.

The Dime package puts six DBs on the field (4 CBs, an FS, and an SS) and defends against all-out passing situations when the offense goes with four or five WRs. See what sort of package the offensive is coming out with, and pick your defensive alignment accordingly. Understanding these packages is the foundation of defense in Madden 22.

The best defensive playbooks in Madden 22

Now that you have a firm grasp on defensive schemes let’s dive into the best defensive playbooks to run in Madden 22 and how they use the above schemes differently.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady walking out onto the field in Madden 22.
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Let’s kick things off with the defending Super Bowl champs. Yes, Tampa Bay can thank Tom Brady for bringing the Bucs from worst to first, but that elite pass rush is what ultimately buried Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. So, if your franchise squad or Ultimate Team has some speedy linebackers, the Bucs Defense is a good playbook to run.

The Bucs playbook leans on the 3-4 and 4-4 formations, featuring four linemen and four LBs. You’ll be getting some serious pressure on opposing QBs out of the 4-4 and will have success against the run.

This playbook also features the 3-3-5 Wide and Will formations, which many Madden players consider the meta defense of last season. In 3-3-5 Wide, two of your LBs will line up on the line, with one hanging back to cover the middle of the field. If you smell a run coming, you’ll want to be in Wide. Will keeps the middle of the field better defended and can also stop inside runs.

One trick you can utilize that works in 3-3-5 is substituting a SS or FS for one of your LBs, preferably your MLB. The SS will be your user-controlled player. SSs are faster than LBs, making it easier to cover receivers, but they also pack a punch on tackles, making them equally helpful against the run. This works for any playbook running the 3-3-5, not just the Bucs. However, your substitution will go away if you change to 3-3-5 Wide or Odd from the play selection screen. Once you’re on the field, you can audible to a different formation and keep the same personnel.

The Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger in Madden 22.
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The Steel Curtain will forever be the best defense the NFL has ever seen. For that reason, Madden players can always default to the Steelers defensive playbook. The Steelers defense operates primarily out of 3-4 but also features the 46 formation. This run-stopping formation is a take on 4-3 that features six players on the line of scrimmage. You’ll recognize when you come up against the 46, as the defense will be in single-high safety and look like they’re crowding the line of scrimmage. Word to the wise, don’t run the ball.

The Steelers Defense also features another unique formation, the 1-5-5 Triple-A Gap. This formation crowds the line with speed and features plays that’ll send a different LB or DB flying at the QB. 1-5-5 and Nickel Triple will keep 5-6 defenders on the line, making them useful against the run.

Green Bay Packers

A wide receiver and defensive back are tangled up in Madden 22.
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With Aaron Rogers officially back on the team, the Green Bay Packers hope to make it one game further than they did in the 2020 season. They’ll need their defense to step up if they wish to best Tom Brady and the Bucs this time. They’ll do so mainly out of 3-4, but can drop into what’s called Quarter coverage, featuring seven DBs on the field for ultimate pass protection. The Quarter (or 1-3-7 formation) will keep pass-heavy teams at bay while also dialing up intricate blitzes from either side of the line. Your speedy DBs can get to the QB faster, especially on 3rd and long plays that need time to develop.

Out of the Dime formation, you can also sub in Safties for LBs for added speed and coverage in the middle of the field. You also have a few options out of the 3-4 formation. Under and Over only keep three defenders right on the line of scrimmage. Then, LBs line up to the left or right, depending on how the offense comes out. Odd formation keeps five defenders on the line with two LBs in the middle. Slide left or right to defend outside runs, and leave it alone if you think the offense is heading inside.

The 46 Defense

We mentioned the 46 when talking about the Steelers, but you can run a pure 46 defensive playbook just like the Multiple D playbook or the 3-4 playbook. The 46 takes what’s in the Pittsburg playbook and expands upon it with multiple 46 formations. Take the 46 Normal for example. In 46 Normal, you can use the Right Stick to select your speed packed from the formation screen. This loads your defense with pure speed, making it easier to pressure, get to the QB, chase down outside runs, and stay in tight man coverage.

The 46 also features our favorite 3-3-5 formations, which can take advantage of the safety substitution to add speed at the LB position. Equip the 46 defense to any team from the Advanced Settings menu before you click Ready. Here, you can edit your offensive and defensive playbooks. In Ultimate Team, you’ll have to buy it from the auction house.

The Giants

A Giants player carries the football in Madden.
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Danny Dimes must rely on his defense this year if the New York Giants plan on posting a winning record. Every great offense starts with a great defense, and the Giants defensive playbook is one of the best in Madden 22. This playbook gives you 3-4 and 4-3 plays, all or favorite Nickel formations, and a unique formation called Big Nickel.

Big Nickel subs another Safety in for one of your CBs. So, if you’ve got a pair of talented SSs or FSs on your Ultimate Team, Big Nickel can get both of them on the field. You may have to substitute them in from the play screen, so practice with this playbook to see who goes in and when. Then, adjust your lineup accordingly from the My Team screen.

The 4-3 in this playbook is limited to the Even 6-1 formation, which keeps six players on the line of scrimmage at all times.

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