If you are anything like me, you are a lot better on the offensive side of the ball in Madden than you are on defense.

I can put up points in a hurry on offense, but the same happens against me on defense, resulting in some high-scoring games. This is very frustrating and I wish I could stop offenses consistently, so I could really take my game to the next level.

The most difficult thing to stop on defense is the short pass game. Offenses with the best QBs will cut up your defense with throws underneath between your zone coverages, utilizing slant and drag routes from the playbook to destroy defenses.

I’m always looking for ways to stop short passes in Madden, and over the years I’ve found a few tried and true methods that I’ll share with you in this guide.

You don’t have to be an All-Madden-level user defender to utilize these methods. If you want to be able to stop the short passing game in Madden 23, be sure to do these 5 things:

Shade Underneath

Stop short passes shade

Shading your defense is a pre-snap strategy that gives your CPU-controlled defenders more instructions on how to cover receivers. Shading underneath means that your defenders will be anticipating a quick short pass, and will play tight coverage close to the line of scrimmage in order to stop short passes. 

If you don’t shade underneath, your linebackers will automatically play soft coverage, anticipating a longer pass. 

In order to shade underneath, you need to push the Y/triangle button and then push the right stick down before the snap. 

This is the single most important step in order to stop the short pass game, but it does leave you open to long passes over the middle. I would suggest not shading down on 3rd and long plays or if you are playing an offense that airs it out a lot.

A good way to ensure they can’t throw it deep is to blitz the quarterback.

User Control Your Middle Linebacker

Stop short passes linebacker

In Madden, there is one universal truth: you know better than the computer. This is true in covering the short pass game more so than perhaps most of the other areas of the game.

Your middle linebacker is crucial for covering short passes and for stopping the run game – it is arguably the best position to use on defense. 

You should be able to cover in zone, or man-on-man against the tight end or running back.

Play the Right Kind of Defense

Stop short passes formation

Unless you have slower-than-usual cornerbacks, or perhaps they are not high overall guys, I would suggest that you play a lot of man-to-man defense, particularly in a cover 2 defense.

If you want to find a great cover 2 defensive playbook, the best defensive playbooks are listed here. You should find a playbook that focuses on man-to-man coverage in cover 2, deploys good blitzes, and has plays that you are comfortable with.

Have the Right Players

Stop short passes in Madden 23

Let’s face it, none of the tips so far are going to help you if you have a defense full of no-namers. You need players with great attributes on your defense if you want to win more games, especially in MUT, but in other game modes as well.

Play recognition, awareness, man coverage, and speed are arguably the four most important attributes when it comes to stopping the short game. Of course, zone coverage is extremely important if you are going to use a lot of zone, but I really prefer man-to-man coverage.

You want corners that can mirror the receivers and that can keep up with them. You want safeties and linebackers that can react quickly when the ball is in the air, and you want big defensive tackles that have good jumping attributes so that they can bat the ball out of the air at the line of scrimmage.


Stop short passes practice

Practice makes perfect in everything we do, and that’s no different for Madden. The more you play, the better you’ll be. 

You can even use the training game mode, to learn the game a little better if you are fairly new.

Madden is a well-made game, with gameplay that is easily understandable (assuming you’ve watched football before), and just difficult enough to be fun – mastering the defense is often the final piece of the puzzle for intermediate-level players.

If you’d like to get even better with the defensive side of the game, you’ll find our guide to getting sacks very useful. We’ve got many more guides like that one, so be sure to browse through every page!