Madden NFL 23: Mastering the Game with Tips and Strategies

To pay homage to the legendary John Madden, EA chose to dedicate this year’s installment of the perennial NFL video game franchise, Madden NFL 23, to the man who left an indelible mark on the football field. With several quality-of-life improvements, the game is now heading in the right direction. In this article, we will explore some helpful tips and tricks to help both new and returning players dominate the virtual gridiron.

New Passing Mechanics in Madden 23

Joe Burrow looks for an open receiver in Madden 23.

Prior to the release of Madden 23, much buzz surrounded the new “skill-based passing” mechanic. While the term may trigger hesitation in some gamers, the updated passing mechanics have generated excitement within the gaming community. But how do they work, are they worth using, and how can players leverage them on the field?

Madden 23 introduces three passing options: Placement and Accuracy, Placement, and Classic. Placement and Accuracy bring a host of new features to the game. Players will notice a power meter above the quarterback’s head, a gray target area, and a reticle around the intended receiver. To execute an “accurate” pass, players must release the receiver icon within the blue area of the power meter. However, it’s important to note that this means all “perfect accuracy passes” will be bullet passes, which may not always be the optimal choice.

Missing the blue target doesn’t necessarily result in an errant throw; it simply means players might miss a tight window by a small margin. Holding the receiver button, as if throwing a traditional bullet pass, will still deliver a solid ball based on the quarterback’s accuracy rating, the pass rush, their superstar abilities, and whether they’re on the run.

The most interesting aspect of Madden 23’s passing mechanics is the target reticle. The placement passing mechanic displays a gray circle around the target receiver. Within that area, players have more control over how they lead their receiver. With precise sensitivity and timing, players can deliver passes that only their intended receiver can catch. However, if the timing is off or the sensitivity is too high, the ball may hit the ground or sail out of bounds.

For players looking to skip the accuracy meter, the Placement option allows them to focus solely on where they want to put the ball. It’s highly recommended to complete the new passing mechanics tutorial found in the Skills Trainer menu under Advanced Techniques drills to grasp the appropriate button combinations for each passing scenario.

Classic passing, as the name suggests, allows players to throw the ball as they always have. With this setting, the accuracy meter and reticle are removed from the passing game. So, which option is the best?

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Although the new “passing mechanics” may appear to be an innovative addition, they essentially resemble visualizations of the classic passing game. When using the placement passing mechanic, players have a fraction of a second to place the ball within the reticle, leading receivers as they typically would. Moreover, the accuracy meter diverts attention from the most crucial element—the field. With multiple factors to consider, such as coverages, blitzers, dropping corners, and backpedaling safeties, the new passing mechanics may not live up to the initial hype. The verdict? Stick with classic passing, learn to read coverages, and know when to throw the ball away or rely on checkdowns.

New Tackling Mechanics in Madden 23

A defensive player tackles an offensive player in mid-air.

While the new passing mechanics may not meet all expectations, the tackling mechanics in Madden 23 deliver a win for offenses everywhere. The updated mechanics take into account various intangibles such as angles, player size, momentum, and speed.

In previous iterations, even a no-name linebacker could easily take down a powerhouse like Derrick Henry with a lackluster animation. However, Madden 23’s tackling mechanics rectify this issue. Now, it takes an elite player like Aaron Donald to bring down the likes of Derrick Henry.

The addition of the quick-time tackle event adds an intriguing layer to the game. Players must rapidly press the designated button (X on PlayStation, A on Xbox) during the event. Therefore, whenever players initiate a tackle, they should start mashing the button. Similarly, when players are about to be tackled, they should also mash the button to either stiff-arm the tackler or gain an advantage in the quick-time event. In the future, the button combinations for breaking tackles may change, forcing players to adapt their button-mashing skills accordingly.

Understanding Defensive AI Improvements

Aside from passing and tackling, the most significant improvement in Madden 23 lies in the realm of defensive AI, particularly with zone defenders and pass rushers. Madden 22 had a notorious flaw where the defensive AI would consistently struggle against deep crossers. Players would often exploit this weakness by utilizing roll-out plays with agile quarterbacks like Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson. However, Madden 23 addresses this issue by making the defensive AI more conscious of cross routes.

In Madden 23, zone defenders will no longer backpedal aimlessly unless there is a threat of an opposing player getting behind them. Instead, they will actively cover crossing routes, positioning themselves better to break on the ball once the quarterback throws it. As a result, deep crossers are no longer an easy exploit, except when the defense is in single-high man or a zero-blitz coverage. However, it’s worth noting that receivers must possess sufficient speed to break away from their man defenders.

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Essential Offensive Coaching Adjustments

Coach Madden talks to Tom Brady on the sideline.

Coaching adjustments play a vital role in Madden 23, allowing players to fine-tune their offense and defense. Here are some recommended offensive coaching adjustments:

  • Deep and intermediate pass-catching: Leave this setting on balanced, and make the decision yourself once the ball is in the air. In particular situations, instruct receivers to run after the catch (RAC) or make conservative catches to avoid big hits.
  • Blocking adjustments: Keep blocking adjustments balanced for optimal performance. Setting blockers to aggressive may lead to more holding penalties without significant benefits.
  • Ball carrier adjustments: The importance of checkdown throws has increased in Madden 23. The defensive AI won’t easily allow receivers to get open, so utilizing quick drag routes or targeting the running back on out routes is crucial. However, players should be cautious and ensure that a flat defender is not waiting to intercept the ball.
  • Avoid blocking with TEs and RBs: It may be tempting to use TEs or RBs for pass blocking, but it’s not recommended. Even the best TEs will struggle to pass block effectively. It’s better to put them on a route to maximize offensive potential. RBs are also susceptible to being leveled by incoming linemen and linebackers, so it’s advisable to send them on quick routes or call audibles for screen passes.
  • Set your audibles: Changing plays at the line of scrimmage is vital for offensive success. Designate audibles that include inside and outside run plays, flood concepts, and screen passes. Having a variety of audibles available provides flexibility against various defensive schemes.

Effective Defensive Coaching Adjustments

When it comes to defensive coaching adjustments, here are some recommendations:

  • Defensive auto-flip: It’s advisable to leave this setting on to ensure correct defensive alignments. While manual flipping may work for specific situations, using auto-flip prevents leaving gaps in the defense.
  • Auto-alignment: The alignment settings will vary depending on whether players prefer zone-heavy or man-heavy defense. Leaving the alignment setting alone can give away the type of defense being run. Base aligning can help disguise the defensive scheme but may lead to the flat defenders being out of position.
  • Ball in air defense: Setting the ball in air defense to “play ball” increases the chances of interceptions, especially during the early and middle stages of the game. However, switching back to “balanced” towards the end of the game can help avoid giving up significant plays.
  • Cornerback matchups and option defense: Assigning the fastest cornerbacks to cover the quickest receivers is recommended. If the team employs a zone-heavy defense, leaving the matchups on “balanced” may be sufficient. However, man-heavy defenses benefit from having speedy cornerbacks to keep up with receivers. Setting the option defense to “conservative” helps focus on quarterbacks who tend to scramble.
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Hot Route Master: The Ultimate QB Skill?

Tom Brady's superstar abilities in Madden 23.

With the nerfing of the Escape Artist ability, Hot Route Master has emerged as a top passive QB trait in Madden 23. Hot Route Master grants the quarterback four additional hot routes for receivers and running backs. The routes available depend on the players’ positions on the line of scrimmage.

Hot Route Master allows quarterbacks to improvise flood and levels concepts on any play. These concepts feature short, medium, and deep routes to one side of the field. With Hot Route Master, quarterbacks like Tom Brady can read the defense and adjust the routes accordingly, hitting receivers in the corner or the flat.

While Tom Brady is the only default QB in the game with Hot Route Master, players can add this trait to their MUT QB, Face of the Franchise QB, or Franchise QB through the Abilities tab on their player profile.

Set Your Audibles

Changing audibles at the line of scrimmage is a crucial component of running a successful offense. To set audibles effectively:

  • Find a playbook that suits your playstyle.
  • Practice with every offensive formation available and determine which ones allow you to motion receivers and have desirable audibles.
  • Set audibles to cover 2, cover 3, blitz, and man-beating plays.
  • Switch between formations at the line of scrimmage to match the defensive alignment.

Remember to set audibles before each game, as they don’t carry over from previous matches. Repetition will help you remember which formations and plays to change. Start by setting a handful of formations during the first drive of the game, gradually adding more audibles between drives.


Madden NFL 23 brings exciting new features and improved mechanics to the virtual gridiron. By mastering the game’s passing and tackling mechanics, understanding defensive AI improvements, making effective coaching adjustments, and setting audibles, players can dominate the field.

So, grab your controller, head over to OnSpec Electronic, Inc. for the latest Madden NFL 23 updates, and prepare to unleash your skills on the virtual football field!

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