How to Stop Short Passes in Madden 22

Defending short passes with hard flats
Image credit: EA Sports

The short passing game is one of the toughest offenses to stop in Madden 22.

Slants and drags can be so fast that you don’t have the time to react and, although the plays may not be big, they’ll be just enough to get your opponent first downs at a steady rate. Combine that with a skilled QB and quick receivers, and you’ll be looking at long drives, short but steady gains, and a lot of frustration on your side. 

Read on to learn how to stop short passes in Madden 22 and which defensive formations work best against these types of plays.

Stopping the Short Passing Game

There are essentially three steps you need to take to counter short passes in Madden 22:

  • Shade down your defense
  • Use hard flats
  • User-control your LB

Do all of these three things, practice defense, and you’ll see an instant improvement in how you handle the tricky short passing game.

Shade Underneath

This is a crucial defensive strategy that you need to implement before the snap if someone is giving you trouble with short passes.

To shade underneath, tap the Triangle/Y button before the snap and push your Right Stick down. This will instruct your defenders to stop the short-range passes by dropping slightly under their regular movement patterns.

Shading down defense to defend short passes

When you don’t shade down, especially in zone defense, your linebackers will tend to keep things in front of them and give the receivers more space. When you shade underneath, they will play more aggressively and run towards the receivers as soon as the ball is snapped.

Take a look at what happens when we apply the shade underneath instruction; our defenders give the receivers much less space, pressing them down as soon as they receive the ball:

This will hardly ever result in an interception but you’ll stop the receiver in their tracks, often at the line of scrimmage. In this case, we actually tackled the receiver to lose a yard or two. Sometimes, your defender will break up the pass.

Important note: Shading the coverage is a powerful tactic to stop short passes but it will leave some of the deep routes exposed. If you’re playing against a human opponent try not to spam this too much as they’ll notice and adjust to take advantage.

Use Hard Flats

When you instruct your linebackers or cornerbacks to play hard flats, their priority will be to press and prevent short passes to the side and the middle of the field. This is perfect for containing short passes on either side.

So, when you apply the hard flats adjustment you’ll see that your defense is much more focused on guarding the short game and leaving the space behind open. Again, this can be risky because it will leave the back of the field a little exposed.

To give this assignment, select a player (usually your outside linebacker or safetz), tap X/A and move your right stick to the right.

Linebacker hard flat assignment

Check out how our cornerback plays when we apply the hard flats adjustment:

He immediately tackles the receiver, resulting in a gain of only one yard on the play.

User Control Your Linebackers

AI-controlled linebackers are never aggressive enough when it comes to covering these short routes down the middle.

You’ll have to user one of the linebackers and manually break down passes. Usually, the inside linebacker is the best option as he has the best position (and often the skills) you need to pick off passes.

This is easy – you hold down Circle/B and use your left stick to switch to one of the linebackers. If you think you know which side the pass is going to, you can control the LB on that side. Use that LB to stop short passes manually.

Inside linebacker user control

The Best Formations for Stopping Short Passes

What you’re looking for when it comes to choosing the best formations to stop the short games is bodies underneath. You’re weakening yourself in the deep routes but you’re stronger in the middle. The best defensive playbooks in Madden 22 will have lots of plays that allow you to do this.

You should be looking at several coverages but Cover 2 and Cover 3 are likely among your best options. You’ll want to avoid Dime and Cover 4 formations because they put too many deep defenders on the field, leaving your middle section more open.

Nickel defense will also work but stick to Cover 2 as your primary option for stopping short passes.

Final Word

Knowing how to stop short passes can be a powerful addition to your defensive play.

Use practice mode to see how your defenders behave when you apply adjustments and instructions we went through here and try out different coverages. Most importantly, learn how to set these instructions quickly before the snap.

Remember – a good player will know how to beat your hard flats and Cover 2 so don’t spam this or you’ll get outsmarted fast!

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