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Madden NFL 15 Feature Deep Dive: Skills Trainer

Posted August 14th at 6:05pm.

Written by Madden NFL 15 Assistant Producer Anthony White

As the gameplay in Madden gets more realistic and authentic, the development team recognizes the need to teach our fans not only the core mechanics of the game, but also teach real-life football strategy and tactics.

In Madden NFL 15, one of the gameplay emphases for us was making defense fun.

With all of the improvements we made in Madden 15, we felt this was the perfect year to teach players how to attack defensive coverages and execute pass play concepts. New to Skills Trainer this year is a “Football Concepts” section containing 19 new drills that deal with teaching players the passing game. 

These drills are narrated by Coach Bill Courtney, who was featured in the football documentary “Undefeated.”

Attacking Coverages

The first seven drills in Football Concepts deal with attacking defensive coverages. These drills are as follows: Attacking Cover 1, Attacking Cover 2, Attacking Cover 2 Man, Attacking Cover 3, Attacking Cover 4, Attacking Cover 6, and Countering the Blitz. 

These drills break down the teaching progression in phases, similar to real-life NFL coaches. We first give you an overview of what the defensive coverage is because you must have a basic understanding of the defense before you can figure out how to attack it.

We then focus on how to recognize the coverages presnap by highlighting the deep safeties and then the cornerbacks. Once players have a basic understanding of the presnap looks associated with a particular coverage, they’ll be able to recognize it in-game.

Once we’ve shown you the presnap looks of a coverage, the drills show the weak areas of the coverage with shaded graphics on the field, and then give you sample pass plays that are designed to get receivers open in those areas. 

After you’ve had the chance to run the sample plays, we then take you to the drill which is a full 11-on-11 experience that’s designed to mimic in-game conditions.

In the drill, you start with the ball at midfield with the defense set on the drill’s designated coverage. The goal of the drill is to drive the ball down the field using pass play concepts that are designed to attack a particular coverage. You get three drives; scoring a touchdown at the end of each will earn you a Gold Medal for your efforts.


The next 12 drills in Football Concepts are the pass concept drills. When we set out to design the pass concept drills, we felt it was best to focus on the most prevalent pass concepts in the NFL.

The pass concept drills are as follows: Curl Flat Read, Stick Read, Smash Read, Verticals Read, Slant Flat, Flood Read, Levels Pass, Drive Pass, Shallow Cross Pass, Spot Pass, Spacing Pass and Dagger Pass.

We met with a number of NFL and college coaches to get their take on how they teach pass concepts to their teams. As you might imagine, coaches vary in their teaching methods. The teaching progression depends on the type of pass concept.

There are “Progression” based concepts in which the quarterback (depending on the coverage he gets) has a clearly defined progression of three receivers. There are also “Key Read” concepts where the quarterback reads a specific defender and determines where to go with the ball based on that defender’s actions.

We begin the teaching process by first explaining the pass concept is and how it’s designed to attack the defense.

For the progression read concepts, we first show your primary receiver and give you two reps of throwing the ball to that receiver. We also do this with the second and third receivers in the progression. In each rep, the defense takes away two of your receivers and leaves one open. This forces players to get into the habit of going through their entire progression.

Once players complete the first phase, they’ll progress to the 11-on-11 drill where they will get the opportunity to execute that pass concept against random defensive plays.

The teaching process for the Key Read concepts is similar, and begins with an explanation of the pass concept and how it attacks the defense.

The difference here is we’re keying on a specific defender instead of following a read progression.

For example, in the Curl Flat Read Concept drill, the key defender has a Yellow icon above his head. Players get two reps where this defender takes away the flat receiver, thus leaving the curl route receiver open.

Players then get an additional two reps where the defender takes away the curl route receiver and leaves the flat receiver open.

After those reps are completed, the player proceeds to the 11-on-11 drill, where they must complete seven passes in seven reps in order to get a Gold Medal.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at our Skills Trainer Football Concepts drills. Our high-level goal is to help our fans be better Madden NFL 15 while also teaching you more about the game of football.

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