I hope to begin a weekly Madden 12 post about how to use the Cowboys with the updated rosters. With a detailed knowledge of the players on our roster, I've found a ton of potential locked away in the bottom of the depth chart. If you're sick of giving up big plays to the Eagles (and prefer to see them quit after going down 21-0 in the first quarter), this defense is for you.
(Much more after the jump)
Now, in Madden, the game revolves around big plays. Interceptions quickly turn the game. This defense is designed to stuff the run and generate pick sixes. Here's the lineup:
FS: Terrence Newman
SS: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
CB: Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Alan Ball, Danny McCray, Gerald Sensabaugh
LOLB: Bruce Carter
MLB: Bradie James, Keith Brooking
ROLB: Sean Lee
LE: Anthony Spencer
DT: Jay Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears
RE: DeMarcus Ware
Safeties: Speed and Catching are the most important attributes for Safeties. Man Coverage is surprisingly important when you want them to cover receivers behind a blitz. Newman is lightning fast, has great hands, and can cover better than any other Cowboy. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is probably a surprise. He's fast (91 Speed), has better hands than Newman (77 Catch), and can play Man Coverage better than Scandrick. When he jumps routes, he almost always comes down with a pick, and his picks quite often go for six.
Corners: Here, Catching, Speed, and Press were important. Jenkins and Scandrick are starting caliber corners, especially with the safety help I just provided. Ball is somewhat fast and can cover. McCray has decent hands (better than Ball and Scandrick), as does Sensabaugh (and blitzing your fifth corner is much more effective when he's technically your starting Free Safety).
Linebackers: Here is where the Cowboys' strength lies. Lee is an all-around beast. He plays in Ware's old spot, watching for runs to the weakside and dropping into coverage. James and Brooking are very smart and solid tacklers, and they provide much needed run support (they are also quick to react to the run when in zone coverage). Carter at LOLB is a monster. His speed is corner-level (88 Speed), he has incredible hands for a linebacker, and he can chase backs on Screens and tosses, and disrupt passes to receivers in a wide range. When he picks off a pass, he can bring it all the way back.
Line: Anchoring the D Line is Ratliff, who is a dominant pass rusher and run stopper, tossing aside Centers like rag dolls. Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware play End, highlighting their run stopping abilities, and pass rushing potential. The advantage is much more significant when your play calls for DEs to drop into coverage, as both Ware and Spencer play decent coverage (Ware is also great for pick sixes, though he rarely tries to catch the ball).
The best part about this setup is the versatility. Aside from 1 lineman formations (1-5-5, 1-4-6, Psycho) you can be effective from any set. 4-3, 46, Dime, Nickel, and 3-4 are incredibly effective, especially when calling Zone blitzes. As a general rule, try to keep at least 3 lineman (Ware, Ratliff, Spencer) and 2 linebackers (Carter, Lee) whenever possible.
Now, how do you win with this defense? It depends on your opponent. Enemies can be categorized into three general groups: Pass, Run, and Balanced. For example, the Eagles are a passing team, while the Falcons are a running team. Any team losing late in the game is a passing team. 3rd and longs create passing teams.
Against a passing team: Dime Flat: Cover 4, Cover 3, Cover 2. Experiment with dropping Ware and Spencer into different zones they like to target. pinch the line to help stop the run. Sub James out for Carter for extra speed.
Against a running team: 4-6 Normal: Cover 4, 3 Deep Blitz, Cover 3, Cover 2. Again, occasionally send Ware and Spencer out into the flats.
Against a balanced team: Nickel Strong, 3-4/4-3 Stack. Get creative. Blitz with zones deep in order to stop the run, rush the passer, and force mistakes.
This defense is extremely fun to play with. Give it a try! I use a custom playbook, and I'll be happy to let you know all of my formations if you're interested. I'm currently on a 5 game winning streak, with a couple shutouts, using this team. If there is a decent amount of interest in these types of tips, I will continue to post them. I have offensive strategies as well (Teddy Williams sound familiar?). Any and all feedback is appreciated.