Running the Ball
The Juke and Speed Burst are your greatest weapons when returning a kickoff.
Watch the blocking develop and wait until the last second to avoid the first
would-be tackler with a left or right Juke. If you can dodge the first wave, you
have an excellent chance at a thirty-yard return or more.
On an inside run, stick with the play as it appears in the playbook. This
you to take advantage of the offensive line thrust and any lead blockers plowing
into the line ahead of you.
When you reach the line, run straight to the hole or make one quick cut to find
it. Then use a Speed Burst to blow by the defensive linemen.
Sometimes, the hole is not really a hole, but a mass of 300-pound bodies. You
go down with a whimper or throw out a Stiff Arm and make someone pay.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of beating the linebackers to the
turning the corner, and racing down the sidelines. On a toss or sweep, slide
toward the outside, juke toward the sideline to avoid the first tackler, and
cut hard until you're parallel to the sidelines. Now, it's a track meet!
If you encounter a few fallen opponents or teammates, go airborne, or spin away
from a tackler who's ready to wrap you up.
When all of the big boys are standing each other up at the goal line, take a
into the end zone.
Throwing the Ball
You can do several things before the snap to increase your chances for a
completion. First, check both sides of the field to review your routes and the
defensive coverage. But keep your eye on the play clock!
When playing against a live opponent, try a pump fake to draw the player-
controlled defender away from your primary receiver.
Vary your touch on the controller to match the pass route. A light tap will lob
the ball downfield, allowing a speedy receiver to run under the ball.
However, when throwing into heavy coverage deep in your own territory, you want
to put some pop on the ball to keep a lower trajectory, thus avoiding an easy
interception for the defense.
Don't be afraid to step up in the pocket if the protection is there. It lets you
get a little extra on the ball when coverage is tight.
Catching the Ball
Making a good pass is only half of a completion. After you release the ball,
over control of the receiver. You can leap for a ball that's sailing over your
head or dive for one that's about to hit the ground.
Before the Snap
Read the field immediately as the offense sets up. You have time to call a
defensive audible and prevent a disaster if your alignment is weak.
You also can shift the defensive line to create better matchups with the
offensive front. And, you can bring your secondary up to the line for "bump-and-
run" coverage (or move them back again).
After the Snap
Once the ball is in play, you can cause havoc in several ways. To rush the
quarterback, take over a defensive lineman and "swim" past the offensive
When you get close enough to see the quarterback, but not quite close enough to
sack him, swat his pitiful pass to the ground.
Those bone-crunching tackles sure sound great and they feel good, too. However,
it takes time to line up a running back or receiver and, when you're moving a
pound lineman around the field, you might end up grabbing air. Rather than risk
losing the play, dive at the ball carrier to bring him down quickly.
Playing in the defensive secondary requires instincts, quickness, and a little
luck. When the ball is in the air, switch control to the defensive back closest
to the receiver. As the ball arrives, jump to knock the pass away.
When all else fails, try to strip the ball from the ball carrier. If you're
successful, go for the ball aggressively or the offense will get it back.
Be the hole. Unless you're running a sweep, you need to find the hole quickly.
Don't bounce around too much while you're still in the backfield, because you’ll
give the defensive linemen too much time to play off of their blocks. Once you
get square to the hole, jam on the Speed Burst to fly through the trenches.
Running successfully outside the tackles isn't as easy as it looks. Your first
few steps after the handoff are critical. Don't juke in the backfield. Instead,
run to the sideline at a very slight angle upfield. Wait until the pursuit
in and then juke outside or inside to slip by the first wave. Ultimately, you
want to find the sidelines and outrun the secondary. When you know you're going
down, don't forget to stiff arm or dive your way for extra yardage.
Know Your Personnel
Every player in Madden NFL 2001 is rated in eighteen categories. The key
attributes for running backs are: Strength, Top Speed, Agility, Acceleration,
Breaking Tackles. However, this doesn’t mean that your primary running back must
be off the charts in every category. On the contrary, it's more important to
match your runner with an offensive scheme that makes the most of his talents.
Whether you're playing against the computer or a human opponent, if you keep
calling the same play, you'll eventually run into trouble. Also, you'll invite
the defense to key on a player, or an area of the field, if you repeatedly call
the same play in a particular situation (for example, HB Sweep on first down, HB
Draw on third and long).
Once you've read the defense, it's time to snap the ball. Based on your read,
should have an idea of how to drop back.
If you're not concerned with an aggressive pass rush, you can take a deeper drop
(ten yards maximum), but remember to put a little extra zip on the ball. If you
sense a blitz, take a short drop and release or roll away from the trouble.
run too far to the side, unless it's a rollout play, or you'll be isolated from
your blockers. Don’t wait too long to start your scramble. Once a defensive
player beats his block, he'll be on you in a heartbeat. Take off as soon as he
heads your way.
A good quarterback puts just the right "touch" on his passes. Madden NFL 2001
uses a simple system that increases the speed and lowers the trajectory of the
ball, the longer you depress the Pass button. A short tap produces a gentle lob
pass with a higher trajectory.
Madden NFL 2001 features a variety of pass routes. The most important
is the difference between a straight pattern and one with cuts. You can throw
ball at any time to a receiver running a straight route and, if the ball is on
target, the receiver will have a good chance of catching it. However, on a route
with cuts, you'll greatly increase your chance of success if you deliver the
just as a receiver makes his cut. On a curl route, where the receiver comes back
to the ball, you must learn to deliver the ball just before the receiver makes
Nothing is more frustrating than playing solid football for 58 minutes and then
losing in the final 120 seconds because you couldn't run your two-minute
Winning in crunch time involves managing the clock and selecting the right
The clock starts when your returner touches the ball and stops when the play is
dead, so don't burn a timeout after a kick return.
Don't try to score too quickly or you'll give your opponent too much time to
engineer a successful scoring drive.
When in doubt, spike the ball. If it's first down and you don't have an idea
to call for at least the next two plays, spike the ball to stop the clock.
Pencil out a no-huddle offense before the game that contains six plays. You can
program these plays to your Audible buttons.
Don't use Play Action during the last two minutes. In most cases, the defense is
only concerned with keeping you out of the end zone. Play Action will only waste
time and accomplish nothing.
Unless you're controlling the line of scrimmage, forget about the straight drop
for your quarterback. Pick a side after you read the defense and roll out
immediately after the snap.
Sideline passes are the obvious choices, but don't get too precise with your
throws. It may look cool to see a receiver falling out of bounds with his toes
the field, but that receiver also gives up any chance of making more yardage.
Throw to the sideline and pick up extra yardage before diving out of bounds to
stop the clock.
Don't let the clock run down to the two-minute warning. If it's first down and
you have at least ten seconds left, call a high-percentage short pass to pick up
some yardage before the referee stops the clock.
When you mix in a run, stick with pitches and sweeps to the outside, so your
runner can step out of bounds. A draw play or trap may sound like a good idea,
but they'll waste too much time.
The Audible buttons in Madden NFL 2001 allow you to store up to six plays that
can be immediately called by pressing the corresponding button. You can fill
these slots with high-percentage passes and outside runs. This is one way to
create a no-huddle offense.
However, the time remaining and location of the ball may dictate a much
selection of plays. Your play selection should be based on the average number of
yards you need on each play to reach the end zone. Remember, the idea is to use
up nearly all of the time on the clock, no matter how much time is remaining. So
you want to keep your offense moving and gain a minimum amount of yardage on
With only two minutes remaining, you need to cover some serious ground to reach
the end zone, especially if you're starting the drive sixty or eighty yards
From this distance, you must pass the ball, unless you have the ability to gain
ten yards on a sweep.
If you have the good fortune of taking over at your opponent's forty-yard line,
you can mix in a running play or two. This puts much more pressure on the
defense, because they can't sit on the pass. But, either way, you want to move
the ball and burn the clock to accomplish both of your goals.
If you have four minutes remaining, you can feel a little more relaxed about
game-winning drive. But, once again, you don't want to race down the field in
minutes and leave the opposing team plenty of time to get back in the game.
You'll still need to pass the ball at least once per series if you start at your
own twenty. However, if you get started further upfield, you can pound the ball
on the ground and wear down the defense, while taking precious time off of the
A defensive coordinator's worst nightmare is watching the opposing team's two-
minute offense roll unchallenged down the field to a game-winning touchdown. Of
course, there's pressure on the offense to execute its plan and, frequently, the
whole thing falls apart on its own. But, from a defensive standpoint, you can't
depend on fate to bail you out.
Fortunately, the two-minute offense is a delicate machine, and there are ways to
muck it up. The following list assumes that the opposing team is starting deep
its own territory and needs a touchdown to win or tie the game.
Use the 4-3 for maximum pressure on the quarterback without the blitz. Be very
careful about blitzing even a single linebacker—you need all three to help out
pass coverage. For extra pressure, control one of your defensive ends (alternate
sides on every play) and loop around the tackles to get to the quarterback. With
everyone in the pattern, you'll pick up a sack, or at the very least, hurry the
It's not Hail Mary time yet, so the opposing quarterback will work the sidelines
to move steadily down the field. Use defensive formations that give you better
coverage across the field—Dime Double Wide, Dime Double Slot, Dime Over Four,
Dime Under Man. You may give up short passes in the middle of the field, but
only three timeouts, the offense can't afford to go there for very long.
Don't use the Prevent or put too many defensive backs into deep zone coverage.
With two minutes to go, the offense isn't panicking yet. After you shut down a
couple short to medium passes, then you can drop into a 2 Deep Zone to protect
yourself from the long ball.
Double up on the opposing team's best receivers. You can accomplish this with a
Dime formation and a combination of man and zone defense. Make sure you have man
coverage on the key receiver's side of the field.
If the offense is still deep in its own territory with time running out, drop
your Dime secondary into a deep zone and blitz two linebackers, along with a
defensive end (under your control). It's panic time for the quarterback and you
can bring the game to its inevitable conclusion with a little extra pressure.
Playing a quick exhibition game of Madden NFL 2001 is always fun. However,
several season formats not only challenge your coaching skills but also test
knowledge as general manager. In Season mode you can take your favorite team
through a 16-game schedule based on the actual NFL divisional alignment. You can
also play commissioner and create a Custom League, with realigned divisions.
the teams by geographical boundaries, team ratings, or even uniform colors—it's
all up to you. In both of these formats, your goal is to win the division, or at
least a wild card spot, and play in the Super Bowl. If you fall short, you can
try again with another team.
Of course, there are no "do-overs" in the NFL. If a team fails to perform up to
expectations, management makes changes during the off season, in the form of new
players, a revised playbook, or even a different coach. In the end, it will be
the combined efforts of coach, general manager, and director of player personnel
that take the team to the Super Bowl.
In Franchise mode, your Madden NFL 2001 experience spans up to thirty years.
year, your players improve, decline, get hurt, or even retire, so you must
constantly adjust your roster to stay competitive with the league. You must also
deal with non-playing issues like the salary cap and free agency. Oh, and lest
you forget, you have to win on Sunday.
Designing a Coach
In the Coach Editor, you set general preferences for your team's playing style
and you designate the management features that will come under your direct
control. If you want to specialize in certain areas, you can assign duties to
Stocking Your Roster
If you choose default teams, you start with the NFL roster of your choice.
Obviously, if you start with the St. Louis Rams, you will already be well on
way to a winning season. However, for the ultimate challenge, select Fantasy
Draft and assemble your team from scratch.
To make your selections easier, players are initially sorted by overall rating,
but you can sort the list on any one of eighteen attributes. It is a common
practice to take the "best athlete available" in the first round and then build
your team around that player. But, beginning with the second round, you should
have an idea of what type of offense and defense you want to build.
After the draft is completed, you can start the season, although taking the
at this point would be a disaster. You need to go into Manage Rosters and
organize your players into a team. A good first stop is Player Management, where
you can check the salary cap and review player contracts. Although you probably
will not make any player moves before the first game, it's a good idea to note
the players in the last years of their contracts.
Everyone is healthy before the season starts, so there is only good news on the
Roster Breakdown screen. However, this is a great place to get an instant
overview of your roster during the season. Injuries are listed by position and
only takes a quick scan of this screen to see if you need to sign a free agent
fill a hole.
This is where you shape forty-two drafted players into a team. You can adjust
each position or select Auto-Reorder to automatically shuffle the chart.
keep in mind the new order may not reflect your playing style. Check each
position and make sure you field a team that you are comfortable with.
It's rare that draft day goes exactly as you planned. But you can wheel and deal
with other teams—if they like what you have to offer. The ability to include
future draft picks in a deal is very enticing. However, don't make the mistake
mortgaging your future to get one key player. Even if you win now, it may take
several drafts to restock your roster with young talent.
A secondary benefit of trading is to ease your salary cap limitation. This is
especially critical if you have a key player in the final year of his contract.
You'll need the resources to sign him, so you need to think ahead and make the
necessary roster moves to free up the cash. It may require downgrading the
quality at one position to ensure keeping a "franchise" player at another.
At some point you need to sit down with your player and his agent, and hammer
a new contract. Re-signing a star halfback or quarterback is always a priority.
But don't ignore key players in the trenches. It's great to have Ricky Williams
in the backfield or Kurt Warner calling signals. However, if your all-pro guard
or center decides to test the free-agent waters, your halfback may be squeezing
through smaller holes and the quarterback may be doing a lot more scrambling.
Don't forget to consider a player's age when you go to the bargaining table. It
may be more beneficial to give a young, rising star a longer contract at a
less money per year. On the flip side of the calendar, a 33-year-old running
may be at the end of his productive years. You are better off signing him one
year at a time, just in case his performance takes a significant drop.
You should always re-sign valuable players because, if they walk, there is no
guarantee you will be able to replace them, even with the additional money you
have to spend. However, not all players need to be re-signed at the end of the
year. Make a list of all players in the final years of their contracts and then
check the free-agent list to see how many players are available as replacements.
You may find that you can save money and upgrade your roster with a few free-
After the final regular season game, you are notified of coaching changes around
the league. Next on the agenda is a recap of season and career records.
Before moving to the playoffs, which hopefully include your team, go back to the
Franchise team screen and check League News.
After simulating the Super Bowl, you arrive at the Franchise Progress screen,
which is basically a report card on every player in the league. As you scroll
through your players, you will note that some players improved, while others
slipped. The new ratings are based on a number of factors, including age. A
younger player is more likely to improve, while a veteran player will stay the
same or slip slightly.
After checking to see if anyone on your team retired, you move to the re-signing
phase. Of course, you can negotiate with any player at any time in his contract,
but your number one priority here is to sign players whose contracts have
Wheelin' and Dealin'
When you're out of money, you have two choices—either release players to reclaim
their salaries, or put a few players on the trading block. After listing the
players on one side, you can select up to three positions as your "needs." If
can swing the right deal, you may end up with similar talent and a few extra
When the offers come in, study the numbers before finalizing any deals. Here are
a few important points to consider:
Age is critical in Madden NFL 2001. If you stick with a player too long, he will
retire and you will have an empty slot on your roster. Consider making a deal
a younger, less experienced player before you are faced with an emergency.
Consider trading a player with a big yearly salary for a player with a longer
contract but lower salary.
If you are truly committed to a youth movement, put your oldest veterans on the
trading block and try to stockpile draft picks for the upcoming draft.
After the free agent signing period has ended, it's time to advance to the
You have an opportunity to review all available players before starting the NFL
When the draft starts, your first pick comes up automatically, with the
players listed according to overall rating (you can select any category for
sorting). Just like the real NFL Draft, you will notice that some positions are
stronger than others in a given year. You need to decide whether to draft the
best athlete available or stick with your priority list and shore up the weak
spots on your roster.
Continue through the draft, assembling a group of young players for your
preseason roster. After the draft, you need to sign your picks.
Next stop: training camp. After selecting three preseason opponents, it's time
for a first look at your Depth Chart screen. Just like last year, you can
automatically reorder the roster or go through each position. Use the preseason
games to test your rookies and make decisions about replacing veterans from last
year. Remember—winning these games should be last on your priority list.